The weld-off was hosted by George Shaheen and George Fairbanks of CEI and FIT. Schools that participated in the event included RPCC, Plaquemine High, Ponchatoula High, and St. James Career Center.

On Friday, April 26, the American Welding Society (AWS) Baton Rouge Section held the Annual Weld-Off event for the second year at Fairbanks Inspection and Testing building in St. James.

The weld-off was hosted by George Shaheen and George Fairbanks of CEI and FIT. Schools that participated in the event included RPCC, Plaquemine High, Ponchatoula High, and St. James Career Center.

Before the welding could begin, the students were required to take a written test, which evaluated their knowledge of welding. Afterwards, students were tested on their welding skills by competing in 2G/3G plate, or a 6G pipe test.

Contestants for the weld coupons were judged by AWS accredited Certified Welding Inspectors from the area. Some included workers from Shell.

"The test coupons are a three-eight inch plate that is tact together, then there is a root pass welded through those," Fairbanks said. "It is judged at different hole points, which helps the students learn the early point of the industry. Inspectors would look at the root pass and determine whether a student could continue their welding or not."

Any student that completed their workmanship, and which was deemed visually acceptable to the industry, was awarded a welders certification by the company. This essentially gave them an early ticket to getting a welding job.

"This year, we have four high schools and one technical college competing," Fairbanks said. "We've invited entry level students, as well as more advanced students. The students are chosen by teachers from the schools, but only the top three students from the schools are invited."

Last year, they had three schools represented. In the past, AWS has held welding competitions, but there hasn't been any since 2000. 2018 was the first year they decided to renew the competition.

"As we get more schools involved, next year we may phase it down to the top two students. We only have 17 welding booths, so we can only do a limited amount of students," Fairbanks said.

AWS would like to thank the following businesses for their donations: Zachary, Blue Bayou, CEI, FIT, Lincoln Electric, Gas & Supply, Noranda Alumina, PAX, Turn Around Welding Services, Landry's Seafood, James Machine Works, Red-D-Arc, Comeaux Caps, AWS, Cajun Cooking, GEO Heat, Ralph Sellers, Quality Testing, Turner Industries, Murray's Market, and DeLaune's Supermarket.

They'd also like to thank the volunteers: Alvin LeGleu, Johnny Dupuy, Blake Hewitt, Bill Cohea, Lance Bradley, Mark Miller, Tim Lawson, Shane Allen, Ron McCracken, Eric Hyde, Perry Theriot, Jim Fousse, Andy Hagan, John Jones, Benny Warren, Galan Trahan, Deanna Miles, and test supervisor, Garry Owens.

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