UACCM Hosts A High School Welding Competition

welder at a station
High School student welds at the Workforce Training Center.

The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton is opening its welding facilities to high school students by hosting competitions, a move designed to encourage students to explore in-demand fields in the state.

Students from four high schools competed on Monday, March 4, at UACCM’s Workforce Training Center, in the challenges of blueprint reading, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding. The Department of Workforce Development and Community Education used the event as a trial run for future, prospective competitions. 

“In lieu of the FFA Practice Competition, we decided to hold a Welding Competition with high school agricultural students,” said Denise Pote, coordinator of Workforce Development and Community Education. “For our first year, we wanted to keep participation at a minimum and to limit registration; so we only invited five schools.” 

With UACCM instructors serving among the judges, three young winners were selected among the crop of welders from Shirley, Bigelow, Wonderview, Western Yell County and Nemo Vista high schools. With prizes of welding accessories, the winners were Colt Ridenour of Western Yell County High School, first place; Grant Morgan of Bigelow High School, second place; and Mahalie Adair of Western Yell County High School, third place. 

Three students stand in welding lab and are holding gear
From left to right: Gran Morgan of Bigelow High School, Colt Ridenour of Western Yell County High School,
and Mahalie Adair of Western Yell County High School

These competitions are capable to being an asset in the state, as it provides opportunities for students looking for high-paying careers without getting a four-year college degree.

“UACCM’s primary goal for this was to bring students to our campus where they and their high school instructors could meet our faculty and learn about programs, expectations, and possible career choices. It was an opportunity for students to see how valuable skilled trades are and to find an area in which they can excel even if they do not feel that college is for them,” Pote said.


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