This archived article was written by: Tyler Christmas
On October 8, at 3 p.m., Mason Winters was awarded first place the AWS U.S. Trials in Las Vegas at the American Welding Society before a whopping 17,000 attendants.
The competition was fierce according to Lon Youngberg, an instructor in the welding department. He said it was intense and he never felt comfortable, even though Winters was always ranked first or tied for first in the intermediate standings.
Winters said he was never rushed for time. Therefore, he was able to weld deliberately and carefully.
The competition looked bleak when a few of Winters’s welds failed strength tests. One broke while enduring a bending test, and another failed an x-ray examination. 5 of the 6 contestants also failed these strenuous examinations and he was able to remain in first place.
When all of the finished projects were on display, it was difficult to determine a sure winner just by looking at them because the welders were toe to toe in skill. However, by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Winters was announced the victor in front of the 17,000 plus convention participants and awarded his medal in the banquet hall at the Harrah’s resort before the president of the AWS and other welding dignitaries.
The three medalists from the Las Vegas tournament will work on additional projects until June of 2009 in Kansas City, Mo., where several foreign nations will be represented. At this time, the committee will select the two best to compete in the AWS U.S. Open Weld Trials. The winner will represent the U.S. in the WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and receive a $40,000 scholarship towards their education. If he wins, Winters will use the scholarship to pursue a degree in Welding Engineering. Winters is the first seed in the Kansas City competition and is considered the guy to beat.
Winters has also been invited by Ireland to compete in an international tournament. Unfortunately, the AWS has a tight budget, so the director, Ed Bohnart, would like to wait for an invitation from Korea before accepting. Korea is very competitive in the welding department and would be considered a more impressive victory.
Winters is spending much of his time in the welding shop preparing for the tournaments to come.