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Fridays @ Northeast students in O’Neill showcase their welding skills

Fridays @ Northeast students in O’Neill showcase their welding skills

O’NEILL, Neb. – High school students enrolled in welding classes at Northeast Community College in O’Neill put their skills to the test in a competition at the end of the academic year.

Eleven students performed nine different shielded metal arc welds (SMAW) in welding booths in the lab during the Fridays @ Northeast 2nd annual Weld Off held at Northeast’s extended campus at 505 E. Highway 20. The competition was also held outdoors for an “out-of-the-booth” experience to give them a sense of what it is like to be employed as a welder.

“Most of the students’ hands-on experience in class is completed while in a welding booth in a controlled environment but working as a welder often requires the job to be completed out in the wind and elements,” said Robert Stout, instructor and competition organizer. “The experience outside of the booths affected the students’ final results.”

In addition to the sponsored prizes, each of the top three on the medal stand received a trophy. Tory Thurlow, Stuart High School, took first place, followed by Kyle Steinhauser, Stuart High School, in second, and Dalton Clemens, Rock County High School, in third. 

Judges were John Knapp, a welding instructor at Northeast, and Frank Heying, a welder from Stuart.

Stout encouraged students to keep a focus on the task at hand. He encouraged them to let their work do the talking for them.

“I told them that on competition day/weld test day that experience and confidence in their abilities will carry them through. I said, ‘Don’t get nervous or let the pressure get to you, that’s when you start making mistakes. Believe in yourself and have confidence in what you do. A good welder never has to brag about how good he is. Someone else well do it for you.’”

Stout spent a considerable amount of time coordinating the event which was sponsored by six businesses. Prizes included a welder for first place, along with packages for the top three participants including welding hoods, gloves, shirts, hats and gift certificates, and other various welding personal protective equipment.

The students participate in the Fridays @ Northeast program which gives high school seniors the opportunity to spend the final day of the school week on one of three Northeast campuses using lab spaces and classrooms. The courses offered introduce students to a variety of technical programs and lead right into a program of study upon high school graduation.

Students in Northeast’s welding program learn how to perform modern welding processes on the latest equipment. Through classroom and shop application, they are instructed on gas and arc welding, inert-gas arc welding, and continuous wire production welding and a background in metallurgy, blueprint interpretation, and mathematics. Classes are held Monday through Thursday, allowing for a three-day weekend.

Successful graduates are then able to move into an entry-level production welding or job shop employment. They may also test for and receive American Welding Society (AWS) certification.

Fridays @ Northeast also features other programs at the O’Neill extended campus – building construction, comprehensive medical terminology, medication aide, and nurse aide. 

To learn more about Fridays @ Northeast opportunities, visit


                                                                                                PHOTO CUTLINE 

Students enrolled in welding classes at Northeast Community College in O’Neill display their first, second and third place trophies they earned during a competitive Weld Off at the end of the academic year. Pictured (from left) are Robert Stout, welding instructor and competition organizer, Dalton Clemens, Rock County High School (3rd place), Tory Thurlow, Stuart High School (1st place), and Kyle Steinhauser, Stuart High School (2nd place). The event was organized by Stout.