Welding Sparks Interest In MHS Students

Daisy Ann Hipolito, Features Editor

     Though welding may not be a common hobby amongst MHS students, it is not overlooked by a select few who follow the practice of state and national welders alike. Welding is defined as the process of uniting or mending together multiple pieces of material (metal, thermoplastic, wood, etc.) through the application of heat and pressure. This process can be used to make a variety of creations such as tables, stands, chairs and other usable pieces of furniture or equipment. At MHS, students taking automotive technology (auto tech) are given the opportunity to begin welding and advance their skills if interested. Senior Matthew Leonard was one of the few students to take this opportunity and now considers welding to be a unique and intriguing hobby.

     “If you’re not consistent with working then you’re never going to get anywhere. It’s just about consistent practice, getting out there, grinding your stuff and then practicing other things,” said Leonard.

     Similar to other high school welders, Leonard’s interest was sparked in auto tech. Auto tech is a class that allows students to learn the basics of automotive repair and maintenance, while also being able to work interactively with automotive equipment and electronics. “They have this little section that you can weld in, it has this little welding table and we’re currently trying to build a stand where we can hang sheets off of so that people can look in and see (the) welding so that we don’t have to worry as much,” said Leonard.

     Students in auto tech who are interested in welding learn about the process, steps and techniques that go into a quality weld. From there, the students are able to use their own knowledge to create projects of their own. “The first thing is you want to make sure the metal is nice and clean and then from there it’s just making sure everything lines up and then from there you just want to have good technique,” said Leonard. 

     Welding can be used in a variety of situations. While hobby welders usually work on smaller projects such as furniture and sculptures, more seasoned and professional welders work on grander scale projects, such as pipelines, bridges, power plants, refineries, cars or ships. “The first major project I did was — well we’ve done things on an axel, for like a trailer, and we’ve also done a grill where I kind of just welded some stuff to hold it together,” said Leonard. “I definitely have something that’s going to be there for a while. The stand I just made, that’s probably going to be there for who knows how long. So you get to contribute actively to the shop.”

     Welding results in more than just a self-made product; welders have gained many values and applicable life lessons through the process and practice. These lessons and skills can be used both in and outside of a welding environment. “I think with anything it’s more like work ethic, and you gotta stick with the project. If you aren’t consistent, then that’s something you can transfer into life, anywhere. If you’re not consistent with working then you’re never going to get anywhere,” said Leonard.

     Aside from Leonard, only a few other students at MHS weld as a hobby, and those who do understand that welding is not for everyone. However, that does not stop them from encouraging those who are intrigued by the activity to give it a try. “I think it’s because they think it’s (welding) tedious. We’ve given people the chance to weld and they’ll kinda just go and they kinda just play with it for a little bit, but to actually get good at it is a tedious process,” said Leonard. 

     There are many benefits to taking welding up as a serious profession or side hobby. According to TopWelders.com, welding is currently one of the highest-paid labor jobs in the U.S., with a yearly salary of around $50,000 to $185,000, or $160,000 to $2,000,000 for military support welders in the United Arab Emirates. “I know in college I’m potentially thinking about getting a welder. So, depending on when I can use it, I can just go to different job sites and as I get better people can just pay me and I can go do small projects. It’s just another source of income,” said Leonard.

     If you are interested in welding, you can look into MHS’ auto tech class or research local welding teaching companies.