Coutesy Photo: Buhler High School student Matt Selby poses with HutchCC Apprenticeship Coordinator Amy VanWinkle after a welding competition in Nevada, Missouri.

By Sam Bailey / Staff Writer

The United States, as it is today, would not be a reality without the welding industry.

The Industrial Revolution changed the country, and welding was at the heart of this movement.

Matt Selby, a senior at Buhler High School who is also enrolled in 12 hours at Hutchinson Community College, attended a welding competition in Nevada, Missouri on Jan. 31 to expand his skills in this extensive industry, winning ninth place out of over 200 competitors.

“The contest is a recruitment tool used by many trade schools to promote and showcase their school,” said Jeremiah Harmon, Selby’s welding instructor. “This contest is for seniors only and utilizes the SMAW (stick) welding process, which is one of the oldest processes still used heavily in the construction and repair industries.”

Welding is, according to Harmon, “joining material together through fusion. We make a permanent bond by using heat or pressure or both that causes the chemicals of material to join together.”

Selby takes welding classes through Hutchinson High School with Harmon as a double credit with HutchCC.

“I explain our current arrangement as me being the college welding instructor for high school students,” Harmon said. “My students come from high schools all across our area to include Lyons, Inman and Pretty Prairie. We follow the same curriculum that is used by HutchCC, and I input grades directly into the HutchCC system. The students leave with a transcript for high school and college credit.”

This program is how Selby originally found out about the competition.

“The most challenging part of the competition was getting over the amount of people that were there to compete,” Selby said. “It was shocking, to say the least. Overall, I thought it was a well thought out and put-together competition that will give someone a taste of what this trade has to offer.”

Selby said he would like to continue developing his skills in welding and find a career in the field.

“Here within a few years, I would like to start welding for a pipeline or refinery as a career. I think welding as a whole will be a main focus for me, because I have a niche for it, and I enjoy the hands-on work,” Selby said.

“My favorite part about welding is the hands-on skills and competition from day-to-day. My favorite types of welding are Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) because they both require a certain standard that I hold myself to.”

Harmon said what makes Selby stand out was his hard work to meet the standard and his desire to know what he could do to surpass it.

Selby found his success and a potential career in welding. Harmon encourages anyone with an interest in the industry to learn more, and see if they can find a love for the world of welding themselves.

“Intro level classes are a great place to learn more about the processes and determine if it might be a career path for you,” Selby said. “If nothing else, you learn a skill that can be used in so many other fields.”

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