LeCroy hosts state welding competition on its campus

Published 12:21 pm Thursday, May 23, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

LeCroy Career Technical Center hosted a state-wide welding competition in April that welcomed dozens of high school students to its campus. The competition was sponsored by the Tulsa Welding School in Oklahoma and hosted by LCTC welding instructor Daniel Gilliland in the welding shop on the LeCroy campus in Clanton.

The competition was for junior and senior high school students, and three scholarships for senior competitors were up for grabs with first place receiving full tuition to the Tulsa Welding School, second place half of tuition and third place a quarter of tuition. Every career tech school in the state with a welding program that is affiliated with Tulsa Welding School was invited to the competition. Juniors in the competition were eligible for prizes.

“I challenge my students every year to find a career that does not have welding involved in some way,” Gilliland said. “Everything uses welding … You can never go wrong learning how to weld, that is for sure.”

Forty-nine students from across Alabama competed in the event in front of a crowd of supporters. Gilliland had 11 of his students compete in the competition, but most of his students competing were juniors. There were four top-10 finishers in the competition from LeCroy Career Technical Center — Jacob Barrett, Austin Smitherman, Jose Contreras and Christian Zurita. Barrett also recently took top place at a welding competition hosted by the Shelby County Career Technical Education Center on May 10.

“It was a good experience and I am looking forward to it again,” LCTC welding student Austin Smitherman said. “I have learned a good bit here, and it has been a good experience working with them and (Gilliland).”

Fellow LCTC welding students Abdul Elkhatib and Tanner St. John also competed, and both enjoyed their experiences as well. All three students said they have found an interest and niche for themselves in welding, and hope to continue their studies with it and turn it into a career one day.

The competition between career tech schools in Alabama to host these types of events is high. Gilliland said it is all about the relationships you build and create with programs like the Tulsa Welding School that help bring competitions like this one to their campus, and he was familiar with a number of the Tulsa Welding School administration having sent students to their school in the past. When they needed a new home for the competition this year, they chose to reach out to Gilliland and bring it to Clanton.

“We have some great instructors here and a lot of community support, and we want to thank all the supporters who help us in so many ways,” Gilliland said. “I love competing, and we have gone as far as Jacksonville for competitions … I give my credit to the generation that taught me, because I did not do it by myself. Now I am the generation teaching them, and that is overwhelming sometimes, but I can still go back to those same guys and ask for advice.”

Equipment Linc employees provided food to the students, families, instructors and guests in attendance at the competition. Equipment Linc was one of the sponsors for the event that included Adient, Airgas, Gas and Supply, Independent Fence, MorLyn’s Fine Jewelry and Parnell Inc. as well.