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OCM BOCES students sweep Syracuse welding competition


May 24, 2024

OCM BOCES students sweep Syracuse welding competition

OCM BOCES welding students recently swept five of the eight top places in a business-sponsored welding competition in Syracuse that was part of a four-city event called “The Thruway Cup.”

Later, at the culminating event in Rochester, OCM BOCES students took third place overall. They won more than $2,000 in scholarships, prize money, and welding gear.

The qualifying event in Syracuse was held March 12 at the Syracuse City School District’s welding facility at Corcoran High School. Four local companies—Haun Welding Supply, Bennett Bolt Works, JPW Companies, and Steel Sales—sponsored the event. Twenty-six students from eight schools, including area BOCES, participated.

Students enjoyed a meet-and-greet with industry professionals before a competition that included a 20-question written test and welding processes described as “SMAW and GMAW on carbon steel with fillet welds and corner joints in various positions.”

Ultimately, OCM BOCES seniors swept five of the top spots. The winners included:

  • First Place - Austin Burhans, OCM BOCES, Cortlandville (home district - Cortland Christian Academy)

  • Second Place - Wade Almstead, OCM BOCES, Thompson Road (home district - Jamesville-DeWitt)

  • Third Place - Dylan Dubar, OCM BOCES, Thompson Road (home district - Marcellus)

  • Fourth Place - Dylan Midlar, Cicero-North Syracuse High School (CNS)

  • Fifth Place (a) - Alyssa Luce, OCM BOCES, Thompson Road (home district - Baldwinsville)*

  • Fifth Place (b) - Andres Aguilar, Cayuga-Onondaga (CO) BOCE

  • Sixth Place - Lane Randall, OCM BOCES, Cortlandville (home district - Fabius-Pompey)

  • Seventh Place - Justin Cheston, Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego (DCMO) BOCES

*Luce and Aguilar tied, but judges gave Luce top positioning based on the appearance of her welds.

“These students competed, head to head, with students from many other schools, and as far as I’m concerned, they cleaned up,” said Kevin Auyer, a welding instructor at the OCM BOCES Cortlandville Campus. “I can’t stress enough how proud I am of all of them.”

Scott Watkins, a welding instructor at the OCM BOCES Thompson Road Campus, agreed.

“These kids worked super hard and have done great things with this challenging competition,” he said. “It takes a lot of grit to get out there and do what they did.”

Auyer said the results were impressive because the standards were high.

“Local businesses put it on, and the judges work for those businesses,” he said. “They are certified welding inspectors, so they know exactly what they are looking for in fit-up and weld quality.”

The top four place winners in Syracuse qualified for the second round of competition held on Saturday, May 4, at the Rochester Arc & Flame Center. All four made it to the event and tested their skills against top welders from the Albany, Buffalo and Rochester competitions.

The Syracuse team took third place overall and had individual place-winners. They included:

  • Dylan Midler won second place in the academic competition. He took home welding gear and won a $1,000 scholarship in a random drawing. The money is for students who intend to further their education in the welding field.

  • Austin Burhans took fourth place in the academic competition. He won $100 and welding gear.

  • Dylan Dubar won fourth place in the TIG portion of the competition. He took home $50, welding gear and also won a $1,000 scholarship in the random drawing.

  • Wade Almstead did not place but also won a $1,000 scholarship. He turned it down because he is going directly into the workforce for Iron Workers Local 60.

Haun Welding Instructor Cal Manning, one of the Syracuse event planners, described the student welders as “phenomenal” and “very, very skilled.” He praised the local businesses for their sponsorships and credited Scott Prince of the American Welding Society for organizing the competition. He also noted that two certified welding inspectors—John P. Wozniczka III, whose family owns JPW, and Corey Mossow of Ironworkers Local 60—judged the students’ performances.

His wish is that these students and many more will dedicate themselves to welding, a field that projects the need for 330,000 new professionals in the industry by 2028, according to the AWS website.

“This is such a good career path for anyone who wants to do it,” he said. “I will do anything I can to help them.”

In the photos:
Top left: Austin Burhans, OCM BOCES, from Cortland Christian Academy
Top right: Dylan Dubar, OCM BOCES, from Marcellus
Bottom left: Dylan Midlar of CNS High School
Bottom right: Wade Almstead, OCM BOCES, from Jamesville-DeWitt