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Welding event generates hot competition
East Central’s Charlie Dylla (second from right) congratulates the first-place team in the fabrication contest held May 26. Walking away with the top prize were Steven Schroder, Bobby McGhee, and Bobby Braden.
Day includes underwater welding demonstration
EAST CENTRAL -- Certified welders have always been a trade that is in demand, especially with the current Eagle Ford shale exploration. While welders are needed in the oil, natural gas, electrical, and alternative industries, one has to acquire the skill to advance. With this in mind, the first-ever East Central Welding Competition was held May 26.
Competitors of all ages displayed their skills in three different divisions, said Charlie Dylla, East Central ag/welding instructor and organizer of the event. Dylla formerly taught in the Floresville Independent School District.
Students from Southwest, Somerset, East Central, Del Rio, Southside, and Judson independent school districts and other high schools “put their welding skills to the test,” Dylla said. Others, including students from St. Philip’s College and adults of all ages, competed for more than $10,000 in prizes such as hunting and fishing trips and welding supplies. Sponsors included Scott Bugai, D.V.M., of Seguin, James Huron, Paul Dylla, Tractor Supply Co., Natwell Welding Supply, AOC Welding Supply, Arno’s Welding & Prefab, FFA, and Skills USA.
Seven students competed in the junior torch-cutting division, comprised of welders younger than 16 years of age. Ethan Snoga from East Central ISD and Galvan Rodriguez of Southside High School claimed the top two spots, respectively.
Dylla explained that a bracket system was used during the competition with certified welding inspectors serving as judges.
Sixteen welders competed in the senior welding skills, for those ages 16 to 18. In this contest, the welders had to take a proficiency exam and were evaluated on their welding skills, with two opportunities given. The top three winners included Jose Lopez of Del Rio High School, first; Andrew Wilson of Carthage High School, second; and Nick Spanile of Austin High School, third.
Also included was a team fabrication contest, open to welders of all ages -- high school and college students and full-time welders, in teams of three. Dylla said one team comprised a grandfather and two of his grandsons, while another included a pair of cousins.
The object of the fabrication contest was to put together a small structure as a team, for example a swing set consisting of three A-frames. Steven Schroder, Bobby McGhee, and Bobby Braden took home first place in this division.
What educator would not include something special to entice the interest of the welders? Houston Ocean Corp., based in Houston, gave an underwater welding demonstration as an added bonus. Dylla said the contestants were even given a chance to try it for themselves.
Underwater welding positions pay from $40,000 to $60,000 for beginners, and up to more than $100,000 for experienced underwater welders. Experienced underwater welders are in demand for jobs associated with offshore drilling, for example.
Following the success of this first contest, Dylla said East Central will host another welding contest in the fall. He hopes to increase the number of competitors and add an adult division.
In the future, Dylla would like to promote the welding project into Skills USA-VICA. Educators on the state and federal level consider Skills USA as an essential part of the curriculum in high school, technical schools, and community colleges, not only for the skill, but leadership as well.
For more information or to sponsor the next event, contact Dylla at 210-649-2951 or 210-581-1185.
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