Update: Daniel Wilson placed 25th among 40 of the top welding students from across the nation in the Skills USA individual welding competition. “Daniel will bring back what he learned from competing at this level to share with all our students,” says Brandon Whatley, chair of the Welding Technology Department. “He did extremely well, and we are proud of him.”
ACC Welding Technology student Daniel Wilson will don his protective helmet in the name of Texas as he competes for the industry esteemed title of 2012 SkillsUSA National Champion in Individual Welding. Wilson and other top career and technical students will vie for top honors at the June 26th event in Kansas City, Missouri.
“This is a very big deal,” says Welding Technology Department Chair Brandon Whatley. “The competition is hosted by leaders in our industry and is a great opportunity for everyone with the skills to attend and compete.”
ACC welding students competed for the first time at SkillsUSA Texas in March, with Ryan Allen taking second place in Metal Sculpture, and Ashton Sarger, Brandon Lemon, and Tommy McDowd earning third place in Team Welding Fabrication.
But only first place performances like Daniel’s earn a trip to the SkillsUSA nationals.
Individual Welding is the bigger welding contest at SkillsUSA, and the national champion earns a large scholarship and a chance to compete internationally.
“Winners at this level are pretty well set, doing training, workshops, and industry promotion. They’re sort of like welding rockstars,” says Whatley.
But Daniel is taking it slow, and focusing on completing his education first.
“It would be awesome if someone asks me to weld for them, but I don’t know if I’d take that opportunity right away. I would rather stay where I am to finish up school, then reconnect with any offers once I finish my degree.”
“Daniel is a unique student; one of those phenomenal naturally gifted individuals whose skills are very strong,” says Whatley. “But he also wants to understand all the processes and aspects of welding, the terminology, metallurgy, how to read prints. He’s going to be a leader in this profession because of his desire to learn and improve.”
Daniel’s father Mark, once a school maintenance man, inspired him at an early age to learn some technical skills, tinkering in the garage and the school’s shop after hours.
In middle school, wood shop was Daniel’s favorite. But when he arrived at Lanier High, wood shop was full. The counselor offered up a spot in metal shop, and Daniel jumped at it – “As long as I get to build stuff!”
At Lanier, Daniel earned core ACC Welding course credit through ACCTech’s dual enrollment while building custom barbecues, a 30-foot trailer from scratch, and other projects often commissioned by an outside client, giving him a taste of the professional welding life.
“The client would pay the material cost, but some would also pay us extra for our hours worked. Getting paid for projects in high school that counted toward college credit was pretty cool,” says Daniel.
Now in the middle of his college career, professional welding is no mystery to Daniel. When he’s not in class at ACC’s Round Rock Campus, Daniel works at B&N Oilfield Equipment Co. custom building treater heaters, separators, vessels, and more.
“I’m pretty much jumping right out of ACC and into the field, already working with better welders and learning more every day,” says Daniel.
Fierce competition aside, networking with the industry’s best is what SkillsUSA is all about for both contestants and industry professionals. Job opportunities in welding are booming, and many who compete at the national level move on to work for leading equipment manufacturing companies.
Daniel wouldn’t mind working on pipeline or getting his own welding truck, but he also hopes to one day open a welding shop with his younger brother Andrew, who’s going to attend ACC soon.
“He’s a true success story for ACC Welding Technology because he is the type of student we seek: Solid work ethic, great hand eye coordination, and very intelligent,” says Whatley.
Learn more about ACC’s Welding Technology program at austincc.edu/info/welding.
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