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Welding Rodeo Broadcasts Live On The Web

2012 Welding Rodeo via webcam: Students in action.

The Welding Rodeo is one of the most impressive—and downright coolest—events I can think of in the gases and welding industry. For more than a decade, the Welding Rodeo has been challenging welders to turn piles of scrap metal into pieces of art that fit the event’s theme. This year, the theme is Into the Garden, which could lend itself to some great practical pieces. It’s always fascinating to see how teams interpret the theme and create true original pieces of art.

The event does a great job of encouraging participation from young welders, with separate competitions for amateur (high school and technical school) welders and professional welders. Today (Friday, May 18) is the competition for amateur welders. The professionals will don their welding hoods tomorrow (May 19).

The competition started as a way to draw interest for the welding program at Bellingham Technical College in Washington. When the even kicked off, BTC could accommodate about 12 welding students in its program. Today, expanded welding facilities allow the college to train almost 100 students, and when I spoke to instructor Don Anderson in 2010, the program had a waitlist of almost 100 students. I would say BTC has achieved its goal of boosting enrollment.

Anderson and Central Welding Supply’s Marshall Judy, who helped create the event, gave me the complete run-down of the Welding Rodeo’s history—and what it takes to run an event like this in “Welding Rodeo Roundup.”  If you’re looking for a way to draw interest to welding in your area, an event like this could be the answer.

While the Welding Rodeo has now been imitated throughout the country, the one in Washington is the original, and it has quite a following. The event exposes thousands of people to welding over two days of competition. Not only does it raise awareness of welding, the event raises money for welding scholarships by auctioning off the pieces created at the event.

I would love to someday make it out to Washington to see the Welding Rodeo, but unfortunately it won’t be this year. I was thrilled to discover that BTC has live webcams on the event, which you can access from the Welding Rodeo website (You will have to enter the user name “btc”; there is no password). There are two cameras currently set up on the welding booths so you can get a close up look at the action. I’m really impressed with what I see from the students so far.

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