Thirty-five students from Kane and McHenry counties competed Thursday in Elgin Community College's first high school welding competition.
Competitors represented Hampshire, Elgin, Marengo, Dundee-Crown, Jacobs, St. Charles East and Sycamore high schools and the Fox Valley Career Center. They were tested on welding fundamentals and hands-on shielded metal arc welding.
The first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively, were Tom Limberis of Sycamore High, Zachary Baumgartner of Hampshire High, and John Limberis of Sycamore High.
The contest was judged by ECC faculty members Dave Reich, professor of welding, and Marc Hucek, assistant professor of welding, both certified welding inspectors.
"The demand for skilled welders is at an all-time high in our area and throughout the United States," Reich said. "We are trying to light a spark in high school students by providing them with valuable experience in a field with endless potential for growth. Welding is a great career choice for someone who is looking to work with their hands in the trades."
Hosted by ECC's Sustainability, Business and Career Technologies division, the competition was sponsored by Lincoln Electric, Airgas, Blue Demon Welding, Pipefitters Local 597, American Technical Publishers and the American Welding Society.
Several sponsors donated welding equipment and supplies awarded to the winners.
ECC offers a 2-year associate of applied science degree in welding fabrication technology and a one-year basic welding certificate. Students gain hands-on experience in the welding lab and learn welding concepts from expert instructors. Upon completion of the program, they can work as a welder, cutter, fitter, solderer or brazer.