The results are in, and welding students at Marble Falls High School have made their mark at a statewide welding competition. Sophomore Abby Jones took silver in the Welding 2 competition with her fellow female teammates close behind.
“(Abby) has a bounce in her step (since the competition) for sure,” said welding instructor Scott McDonald with a laugh.
The statewide competition was hosted April 22 by SkillsUSA, a national organization focused on creating opportunities for students interested in trade occupations. To help students market themselves and provide more hands-on experiences, the high school formed a student chapter and competition team.
This year’s competition was conducted over Zoom due to COVID-19. To ensure fairness, material packets were sent to competitors, who were monitored during their build by judges via Zoom.
For Jones, who also competed last year, the new setup was what made her the most nervous.
“It was not at all like I thought it was going to be,” Jones said. “I couldn’t see my competitors on Zoom unless I got really close to the screen.”
During the competition, Jones was asked to weld two pieces of metal together to create an overlap joint. She believes she could have scored well on an even more complicated project and looks forward to challenging herself more in future competitions.
The win means a lot to the team, especially because of the lack of national level competitions, McDonald said.
“I really feel like they got a lot of really, really helpful experience,” McDonald said. “(The students) are all really, really excited.”
Sophomore Emma Seely competed alongside Jones. A first-year welding student, Seely ranked eighth among the 20 students competing. Representing the high school construction program, sophomore Tiffany Rowe took sixth in the Tool Identification category.
Winning second place means more to Jones than just receiving a title. She believes she is breaking down stereotypes often associated with welding.
“Before I took welding, I thought all these jobs were for men,” Jones said. “Now that I’m capable of doing a job a man stereotypically does, I want to show people that they can do whatever they want if they really work for it.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Abby Jones competed in the Welding 1 category. She actually competed in Welding 2. DailyTrib.com apologizes for the error.