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Business and Industry | Events | Featured | NewsMarch 29, 2024

UAFS Welding Rodeo Back for Sixth Year

Written By: Rachel Putman

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith College of Business and Industry will host its sixth annual Welding Rodeo on April 19, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the state-of-the-art Baldor Technology Center.

Increasing its capacity this year, the 2024 Welding Rodeo is expected to welcome 80 high school students, including sophomores, juniors, and seniors, from more than nine school districts throughout the River Valley. 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 technique challenges, ARC (SMAW) welding and MIG (GMAW) welding. Both challenges will allow students to display their welding abilities by welding a T-joint in a vertical position.

The stakes are high as the top three finishers will not only claim their titles but also secure valuable scholarships to UAFS, alongside an array of prizes tailored to support their future careers.

First place will take home an impressive package including a torch set, welding hood, grinder, tool bag with tools, and a $2,000 scholarship to UAFS. The runner-up will be rewarded with a welding hood, grinder, tool bag with tools, and a $1,500 scholarship, while the third-place victor will receive a welding hood, grinder, and a $1,000 scholarship.

Jason Keyes, technical instructor, and leader of the Welding Rodeo, emphasizes the event’s dual purpose: to spotlight the UAFS welding program's excellence and to bridge students with their future careers. “The demand for skilled welders is higher than ever," Keyes remarks. "We’re proud to showcasing the opportunities our program offers, both at the university and in the broader industry landscape."

Adding a future-focused layer to the competition, the Welding Rodeo also arranges for participants to engage directly with local employers. This initiative, which has seen growing interest from the industry year after year, facilitates early networking opportunities for students, the most ambitious of whom secure high-paying, stable employment offers before their high school graduation.

The UAFS Welding Technology Department, in conjunction with the Western Arkansas Technical Center, supports students in pursuing an Associate Degree in Welding at no cost while still in high school. Graduates emerge not only with a valuable skill set but also with a competitive edge in a high-demand field, ready to make their mark.

As the Welding Rodeo returns to the UAFS campus for its sixth year, it continues to ignite the aspirations of young welders, fostering a community of skill and opportunity.

  • Tags:
  • College of Business and Industry
  • Welding Rodeo
  • WATC

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
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