Mason Winters of Vernal represented College of Eastern Utah and the United States in Ireland's International Skills Competition. This competition pitted the best student welders in Ireland against the best from the U.S. Winters beat Ireland's best welder by three points to win their country's welding competition.
Winters started welding at Uintah High School in Vernal where he grew up. He began taking welding classes and decided that it was something that he enjoyed. He started entering competitions and competed in state Skills USA competition, winning gold. Since then, he has won three state championships, one national championship, and the U.S. Open Welding competition. That victory led him to the Irish competition. He needs to win one more competition to compete for the world championships this summer in Canada.
Every day, including weekends, Winters works anywhere between eight and 10 hours to improve his already outstanding welding skills. An amazing amount of time and money go into supporting and supplying his efforts. Mason believes that it is worth the sacrifice.
The competition in Ireland truly tested Winters' skills. The 19-hour trip from Utah to Ireland was only the beginning. The first day Winters met the instructors and other competitors. Winters and the others were up for more than 36 hours without sleep. Over the next three days the competitors would spend a total of 22 hours in intense competition.
Another factor that tried but also proved Winters' skill was the use of foreign equipment. Not only were the tools and machines different from any others that he had ever used, but the materials were different as well. Winters proved that he was up to the challenge.
Besides Winters, there were one other U.S. contestant and four from Ireland. In this competition, the competitors were tested on different techniques such as manual metal arc welding, metal arc gas shielded welding, flux-cored welding and others. All that was given to the competitors to guide them through the tests was a packet of papers showing a diagram of the project, the appropriate measurements and sizes, and the instructions and steps required. The most challenging of the tests and probably the most significant, was the fabrication of a pressure vessel. This was accomplished by using a combination of the previously tested techniques.
This trip was funded by the American Welding Society, as well as other private donors.
"Much of the material used in the competition was purchased through the donations of interested businesses and individuals," said CEU welding instructor Mike Tryon. "We could not have entered Mason in this competition without their generosity."
Tryon said Winters is the best student he has ever taught. "He works hard, has natural talent and welds like a robot."
His next competition is in Kansas City, Kansas, where he will compete in the Skills USA championship. The winner will receive a $40,000 scholarship to continue their education.
"Few people in the world can do the quality of welds Mason does. He is phenomenal at every weld," said Tryon.