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AWC students place 3rd in welding at national contest

By Sarah Womer @YSSarahWomer | Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 6:08 pm

A postsecondary team of students from Arizona Western College also placed third in the category of welding fabrication at the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

The team consisted of three students: Aaron Allen, Ricardo Aldana and James Veldhuis, who were up against 23 other teams from around the country.

Allen, an industrial technology major at AWC, explained that they were given six and a half hours to design plans and build a project based on materials given, while also making sure that proper safety protocols were followed. He noted that their team and two other groups from other states were the only ones that actually completely finished the project.

“It felt really good (to place in third),” said Allen. “We weren’t too sure going into it, because we had one of our team members who was on vacation so we weren’t able to practice the project at all with him. We were a little bit worried about how that was going to affect us overall, but once we got into the competition we all knew our jobs and we just stuck to them and just started clicking together and kept our momentum going throughout the whole thing.”

In the years that AWC has competed at the national level of SkillsUSA, the highest that AWC had previously placed was fifth. Allen commented that, “it was a great feeling,” to surpass that record.

Larry Lebsock, director of Early College Experience at Arizona Western College, said that students have an opportunity to work on brand new machines and equipment as part of the competition donated by industry sponsors.

“The magnitude of the business and industry contributions are huge,” he said. “Business and industry spends a lot of money on this because they need to know what’s out there in the market – they’re running out of skilled employees.”

Allen added, “Everybody is wanting to push to be lawyers and doctors and they’re forgetting about the importance of the actual workforce that allows them to be those things.”