At the end of September, North Central Kansas Technical College (NCK Tech) graduate Blake Schroeder qualified for Project MFG’s National Welding competition. Project MFG is a program that is hosted by the Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program (IBAS).

In this competition, welders had a 2-hour time frame and were given prints and welding procedure specifications (WPS) to complete their project using gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) processes to fabricate a carbon steel pressure vessel. The competition tested Blake’s real-time problem-solving skills, his knowledge of welding techniques and principles, time management, and ability to read and understand blueprints.

On day one, Blake was challenged with a written test and a virtual stick welding challenge in Lincoln Electric’s virtual reality welding lab. The following day, competitors were faced with a time limit and unexpected change orders and were required to incorporate a creative element in their projects. Blake ended up being the first one to complete his project, which gave him bonus points.

All projects were visually inspected along with being pressure tested. In the end competitors could receive up to 100 points for the weld portion, the written test, and the virtual challenge. Blake placed in 3rd with just a 7 point difference from 1st place. 1st through 3rd place received a monetary prize, but all competitors received a duffle bag of Lincoln Electric tools, a welding jacket with their name on it, and a welding helmet.

The event was sponsored by Osborn International Inc., Lincoln Electric, and the Department of Defense. Anyone that wishes to watch the competition can view on YouTube by searching: Clash of Trades: Episode 2 National Welding Challenge.