COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - Sparks were flying at the Colquitt County High School Friday, as nearly 50 students competed in a welding competition.
Up for grabs? A scholarship to the Tulsa Welding School and a promising start to a career.
It's hard to believe that most of what you see on your way to work, or the appliances you have at home, are all made from welding.
High school students from around the state competed and their instructors said their dedication and skill give them hope for the future of the industry.
"There's a lot of pressure on these young men and women and they're doing very, very well," said Assistant Director of High School Admissions Tony Dues. "So, I'm very impressed by them."
The prize was a fully paid scholarship to the Tulsa Welding School for the first place winner.
Dues said the country needs more skilled welders like these students.
"Welding has a part in everything that we do. We're short 300,000 welders. The average age of a welder is 54-years-old," said Dues. "So we need the young men and women to come up and replace them."
Colquitt County High school senior Jose Barajas said welding runs in his family. It's something he's wanted to do since he can remember.
"The way I see it, I think of it as arts and crafts, but for adults. You can just build whatever you want," said Barajas.
And welders get paid a decent salary for it. Averaging between $35,000 to $37,000 a year.
"Welding really is the backbone of everything," said Dues. "This is a chance to bring these young men and women into that workforce."
Each competitor walked away with a $500 scholarship.
Second place received a 50 percent scholarship, and third won a 25 percent scholarship.
Juan Sierra from Colquitt County won first place, Jared Brown also from Colquitt county came in second, and Will Canetto from Screvin won third place.