On Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the Welding Team competed against many other schools from across the state at Welding Thunder. Welding Thunder is a college level fabrication competition, where welding students must build a project on site. The site this year was Skyline High School, which corresponds with this year’s given theme to build a go-kart. Schools such as EVIT, Flagstaff High School, and Pima Community College all competed elegantly as Red Mountain pieced together the final touches on their kart. Fabrication companies including CDI Underwater Welding Careers and ABLE Steel Fabricators Inc. sponsored this year’s competition, showing their support for CTE and STEM.
In the competition, schools were required to bring a “secret weapon” to show CTE ingenuity, and since Mr. Hurst, the Red Mountain welding instructor, has been pushing for equipment catering to the environment, Red Mountain’s kart had been equipped with solar panels to power the horns and the lights. The panels, the team believed, would definitely impress the judges. These panels, one could say, symbolize Red Mountain’s push for greener technology. This impressed the judges, as Red Mountain came in 1st place in the STEM portion of the competition.
Welding Thunder had been designed for students to learn about the fabrication process in a real world applied situation; it had been designed to challenge the students, and allow their creativity to thrive. The students agree, as the majority of them have a burning passion for welding. Many of the kids in the program would like nothing more than to have been apart of the competition. Every year, students from every welding class, including Welding 1, pursue a spot on the Team. Those that do make it in usually develop a friendly competitiveness, as smaller, amiable competitions are held between the students to take their spot on the Team from other members. Regarding Welding Thunder, the students put aside their cordial rivalries to bask in the glory of the opportunity they received.
“It’s been such a great opportunity to observe the interactions between everybody, and to just be here. I’m so excited to be here next year,” Welding I student and sophomore Cate McBride said.
The Team had been overjoyed when they saw their creation unfold in front of them after the first test drive. All their hard work had produced an incredible, high quality kart that took 1st place against the high schools. Most importantly, they had created memories; memories that they can now reflect on as they enter the welding industry. The Team will forever look back on this time as a time of fun, a time of learning and a time of opportunity.
While the students played an important role in the competition, the parents contributed largely and were vital to the Team’s success. At 6:30 a.m. , in 40 degree weather the parents layed out a hearty breakfast. Their support throughout the rest of the competition was essential to the Team.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids. I appreciate all the efforts that Mr. Hurst puts into this to make it a success for the kids,” parent Jim Atwater said.
The parent’s had also contributed to the lunch portion of the competition, as Welding Thunder requires all the schools to prepare a BBQ lunch for not only themselves, but for the judges. Using a smoker the Team had created in an earlier competition, the parents layed out another hearty feast, winning Red Mountain’s 1st place position in the competition’s lunch portion.
This competition had been an inspiration for not only the Team, but for also for the kids that did not get to go. Next year, when new members are selected to be on the Team, Welding Thunder will have inspired a new generation of kids to apply for the Team.
“What’s nice about this is that not every student is going to college so it will be important to learn a trade;” security guard Howie said. “America right now is in a shortage of tradesmen. These kids are the country’s future tradesmen.”
Welding Thunder, for the Team, has helped create a path that will most likely lead the Team members into a career as America’s tradesmen. The Team, the parents, and everyone else who participated had a blast, and Mr. Hurst and the Team wish to thank all those who competed, bid them a good game, and wish them all the best. Without their efforts, Welding Thunder would not have been the same.
On behalf of the Team, the parents, and Red Mountain, a special thank you to Mr. Hurst for leading Red Mountain to victory once again.
(Article By Ronald Feitzinger)
(Photo By Philip Hicks)