Community college students from across the metro compete in welding competition

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The art of fusing metal to metal is a career that’s in demand.

Welding students from three metro community colleges put their skills to the test on Tuesday, gauging their acumen to see who has a leg-up on the rest in Project MFG’s Kansas City Challenge.

Twenty-three future pros participated in a welding competition held at Johnson County Community College, sparking their arcs to teat their skills.

Ray Dick, executive director of the Global Learning Accelerator, a Kansas City nonprofit that works to address the United States’ shortfall in tradesworkers, explained that each student gets two hours to build an aluminum pressure vessel. Their completed product is judged by the quality of their work, but efficiency is important too.

“Our competition really seeks to mimic the manufacturing work environment. For a company to be functional, there’s a time function, which really relates to cost function,” Dick said.

A full gallery of industrial employers are involved — companies that might hire these students for their first jobs in the manufacturing field. Scholarships are on the line, and leaders of this competition said this is how the classroom is taken to the real world.

“It’s the way you can take something from being nothing and make it something that someone can use, and to make it useful for many years to come,” Roxanne Cody, a welding student from Johnson County Community College, said.

“Sometimes, we get two class days to do it or whatever it may be. I’m excited to test myself and see how fast I can work with good quality,” Houston Deering, another JCCC enrollee, said.

Students from Metropolitan Community College were also involved, as well those from a training center in Mitchell County, Kansas. Only competitors and judges were permitted to ensure social distancing. The competition continues on Wednesday.

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