Students compete in state welding competition

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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- Ten Wyoming high school finalists competed in a state welding competition at Puma Steel in Cheyenne. The students competed for more than $10,000 worth of scholarships to help them further a career in a field of interest.

Cheyenne East High School senior, Conner Wilson, said he's never competed in anything in school until the welding competition came to his attention. Wilson said his interest sparked at a young age and added, "When they offered this competition for welding, I was super excited."

The 10 students were selected from a preliminary competition earlier in September. It's the first year there's been a competition of its sort. LCCC Lead Instructor Sam Graham said, "This thing kind of started off with nothing, it really started with two $1,000 scholarships from Puma Steel, and now we’re up to $10,000 worth of scholarships from everybody wanting to be involved in it.”

Graham says one of his goals for helping put the competition together was to get industries around town, the college and students together and connected.

One of the three judges, Jesse Grantham, who also has a PhD in welding and has worked in the industry most of his life says there's a need for more students to get in the field. Grantham said, "It's important that those of us in the welding industry support the young people because they are our future."

Graham also agreed. With a business mainly occupied by a generation of Baby Boomers, he said, "These guys are all getting ready to retire, so we're literally losing a big chink of welders here in the next few years."

The LCCC instructor says he has hopes of seeing the program at the college grow. Graham says it's a great career financially and says they have a potential for 120 per day in the program.

In conjunction with the competition, Governor Matt Mead also declared October 6 as Wyoming Manufacturing Day.

The 2017 Wyoming Manufacturing Day Puma Steel Welding Contest winners of David B. Ratterman Fast Start Scholarships are included:

1. Esteban Archuleta, Rawlins High, $1,750

2. Coby May, Rawlins High, $1,500

3. Chance Rankin, Rawlins High, $1,250

4. Keedin Denny, Cheyenne Central High, $1,250

5. Dominik Swank, Cheyenne South High, $1,000

6. Edgar Vega, Cheyenne South High, $1,000

7. Dakota Blew, Cheyenne South High, $1,000

8. Agustin Loya, Cheyenne South High, $750

9. Conner Wilson, Cheyenne East High, $500

10. Chayce Willett, Cheyenne East High, $500