High school students from across Northern Nevada were hot in competition at a regional welding contest Saturday at Western Nevada Community College.
Members of VICA, a vocational club, competed in three types of welding and took a written test. The top 11 competitors will go to a state competition March 11 at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
"The whole goal of the contest is to get the kids to take the next step," said Jim Pawluk, WNCC professor of welding and chairman of the contest. "The next step is to go to college and become certified welders and go out and make some good money."
He said students need to realize that welding careers can be an option for the future.
"This welding business is not minimum wage," he said. "You could raise a family very easily on a welder's wage."
Becoming a welder is just what R.J. Woodward, a junior at Carson High, plans to do.
"I feel it's a good job to learn," he said. "It's a good money-maker."
He said he plans to attend WNCC to become a certified welder after high school.
Although Curtis Adams, a junior at Carson High, said he does not want to make a career out of welding, he said he does think welding will always be a part of his life.
"As far as a career in welding, no," he said. "As far as using it for the rest of my life, yes."
Curtis is a magician and said he started welding so that he could make his own props.
"I like it and I caught on pretty quick," he said.
Joe Harvey from Carson High School also took part in the competition. None of the Carson students advanced to the state level.
The welding profession is dominated by males but one female judge and two high school girls participated in the competition.
Welding inspector and contest judge Cindy Hartman said she thinks it is a good time for girls to get involved in welding.
"There's a lot of doors open for women now," Hartman said. "They need to take advantage of that."
Diana Workman, a junior at Churchill County High School in Fallon, said she started welding to help her father on the family farm.
"It's a good way for me to go out and help my dad without having to ask questions," Workman said. "I like being equal with anyone else."
She said she wants to be an attorney but plans to become a certified welder as well so that she has something to fall back on.
"I want to be able to do it just in case I decide to come back and run my dad's farm," she said.