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Events | Business and IndustryMarch 14, 2023

Fifth Annual Welding Rodeo Set to Return to UAFS

Written By: Ian Silvester

The Welding Technology Department of the UAFS College of Business and Industry will host its annual Welding Rodeo on Friday, March 31, 2023.
Sixty high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from nine different school districts in the River Valley will compete in this year’s Welding Rodeo, which returns to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith campus for the fifth spring in a row. Welding students enrolled in the Western Arkansas Technical Center (WATC) will serve as group leaders throughout the event.
Students will be divided into four groups and given a tour of the Baldor Center’s Welding lab, complete a written general knowledge test, and complete two welding techniques, arc welding and metal inert gas (MIG) welding. Both techniques will allow students to display their welding abilities by welding a T-joint in a vertical position.
Facing a limited amount of time and needing to complete multiple passes, students will be put to the test and judged by visual inspection following American Welding Society guidelines. Winners will be announced at the end of the Welding Rodeo, with prizes given to the top three students. The winner will receive a torch set, welding hood, grinder, tool bag with tools, and a $2,000 scholarship to UAFS. The runner-up will receive a welding hood, grinder, tool bag with tools, and a $1,500 scholarship to UAFS and third place will receive a welding hood and grinder and a $1,000 scholarship to UAFS.
Technical instructor Jason Keyes says that aside from the competition and prizes, technical the return of the Welding Rodeo helps bring awareness to the welding program at UAFS, gives prospective students a chance to see the shop and facility, and gain insight into opportunities available to graduates.
“Everyone is looking for welders, and they can’t get enough of them,” explains Keyes. “We want to show kids the program and its benefit if they come to school here and an idea of what could be outside of school.”
However, the day involves more than just demonstrating practical or hands-on welding knowledge.
All students will have a designated time to meet with local employers. Keyes recalled the first year of the Welding Rodeo only having “two or three vendors show up from local industry.” Yet, in the years following, the number has grown substantially, which Keyes says shows the value of the event and helps students get a job in the industry before they even graduate.
Students enrolled in WATC interested in welding can complete an associate degree from UAFS at no cost while still in high school, graduating with a valuable credential and high-demand right out of the classroom.

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  • WATC
  • College of Business and Industry
  • Welding