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Welding honors were earned by a Bullitt East High School student at the Area Technology Center.
Shelby Hogg, 17, took first place in the virtual welding competition in Harrodsburg and won a $250 welding helmet. He was also awarded a $500 scholarship from the Tulsa Welding School of Tulsa, OK.
Fellow welders Lance Newton and Jacob Numann were also awarded $500 scholarships.
Shelby actually had to compete twice. He tied for first place then dueled in a weld-off to determine a winner.
“I felt confident during the regular competition and the weld-off,” he said. “My hand was steady and my focus was good. The metal pieces looked like they should when I finished.”
Shelby used arc welding to liquefy metal and bond it to another surface. This process employs a welding power supply to create and maintain an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt metals at the welding point.
According to ATC welding instructor Scott Metcalf, the virtual welding competition, is actually harder than doing a live weld due to a computer monitoring your every move and documenting everything you do during the welding process.
“It is very unforgiving,” he said.
The Lincoln Electric Virtual Welding Simulator is being used by the Department of Defense, NASA, ship building industry and other industries around the world and is a very useful training tool but is cost prohibitive for technical schools.
Judges looked for a smooth, clean connection with little, if any, residual slag (the byproduct of intense heat ‘cooking’ the metal and bonding it its product).
Welding requires an extremely stable hand and lots of protective equipment, especially for the eyes. A lot of energy is produced during the process.
Shelby said holding the torch as sparks shoot everywhere is just part of welding.
“I don’t even notice them because my concentration is on the metal,” he said. “The weld has to be solid and smooth. They count against you for the smallest detail.”
He had as much time as necessary during the competition.
“You always want a good starting point,” Shelby said. “Once you get the first weld you just keep your arm as still as possible.”
Shelby began welding in seventh grade but did not learn the art from family. They are all in the healthcare business.
“There was a neighbor, Chad Palmer, who was welding when I stopped by and I got hooked immediately,” Shelby said. “He asked if I wanted to try and I learned I had a knack for it.”
That Christmas, Shelby’s parents Tim and Tammy Hogg purchased their son his first welding instrument and a helmet. He fashioned protective clothing gear from existing garments.
The majority of welding injuries occur as burns to the skin or optical trauma. Never look directly at welding in action.
Shelby used his Christmas gift to weld things around the house and help his neighbor with various projects. He quickly learned that welding has many, many uses.
“Welding is big time in automotive and construction,” he said. “But there are also a lot of places such as bridges and monuments that need it.”
As he ascended eighth grade through his junior year of high school, word got around of Shelby’s welding skills. A lot of people asked if he would help them.
“It makes you feel good,” he said. “I like it when they appreciate my work.”
This is Shelby’s second year in the ATC’s welding program and he has sharpened his talents under his welding teacher.
“Mr. Metcalf lets you learn more by hands-on than through a book,” Shelby said. “That’s the best way for me.”
ATC Principal Brady Southwood said the school is proud of Shelby’s accomplishment.
“He’s a good student and quite a welder,” Southwood said. “Shelby picks up things fast. He knows a lot about arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding.”
Shelby is enjoying his final year of high school. His ultimate goal is start his own welding business.
Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,200 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.