GRHS Students Take Top Spots at the Percy Hadley Welding Contest

Pictured: Front left, Dylan Strange, front right, Carson Straw, back left Tate Hughes, back right is Carson Norris, welding student at Western. The Percy Hadley Welding Contest is an annual high school welding competition hosted by Western every April.

ROCK SPRINGS– Western Wyoming Community College hosted the Percy Hadley Welding Contest on April 12, 2019.

The Percy Hadley Welding Contest is an annual high school welding competition hosted by Western. Each high school in Western’s service area is allowed three senior competitors. The 13 high school students who competed came from Rock Springs, Green River, Big Piney, and Greybull.

The contest consists of a written exam and a practical welding project. Welding inspection students (students who receive 60 hours of welding inspection training) from Western, are the judges and critique the welds and scale them on a point system based on visual examination. After the visual inspections are scored, all the points are combined with the written test scores to select the winners.

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The top three winners were as follows: first place Caison Straw from Green River High School, second place Ryan Hoffman from Green River High School, and third place Matthew Seymour from Green River High School. All three of these winners were each awarded a $1000.00 scholarship to attend Western.

 “Seeing high school students interested in this field of work is exciting. I love to work with these students because they have a great attitude, aptitude and work ethic. Being able to teach talented young men and women how to hone their skills is what makes my profession enjoyable,” said Jake Mannikko, Welding Instructor at Western.

Local Industry Donates Prizes

Our local industry donates prizes to the competition ranging from welding machines, torch sets, grinders, gloves and other welding related tools. The Percy Hadley Welding Competition is possible due to the following donors: TATA Chemicals, Praxair, Rocky Mountain Air Solutions, Airgas, Jim Bridger Power Plant, Ciner and Western Wyoming Community College.

The welding program at Western is diverse and focuses on the five major welding processes. The program covers shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, flux core arc welding, and oxy acetylene cutting and welding. The welding program is an accredited testing facility through the American Welding Society which allows Western to develop welding procedures and qualify welders for local industry.

Because of Western’s strong industry partnerships, the institution ensures the lab experiences correlate with the mines, oil field, and power plants needs so when students leave the classroom they are prepared for the field. Western offers 21 welding classes which are 90% hands-on in the lab and 10% lecture in the classroom.

The Welding Lab is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm with a flex entry – meaning students can use the lab during whatever times fit their schedule. There are two full-time instructors and one part-time instructor with a combined 72 years of welding experience, and all three are Certified Welding Inspectors.

Job Opportunities Rising

Job opportunities are in demand and rising as the current workforce nears retirement age. Welders can expect to make anywhere from $16-$40 per hour and more than $85 an hour if they are welding out of their own welding truck.

For more information regarding the Percy Hadley Welding Contest, or about the Welding Program at Western, please contact Jake Mannikko at