FARMINGTON — Three cousins in the Farmington Municipal Schools District's welding program are preparing for a national technical skills competition this summer after they won first place for designing and creating a barbecue grill.
Seniors Monse, Salvador and Victor Gutierrez took first place at the New Mexico SkillsUSA competition in the high school welding fabrication category on April 2 to 4 in Albuquerque. The three students are all in Edward McHenry's welding program at the district's Career and Technology Education Center.
"It felt pretty awesome," Monse Gutierrez said. "It felt pretty good, actually, being able to go with my cousins and having a good time and taking first place."
The SkillsUSA national competition will take place on June 25 and 26 in Kansas City, Mo.
At the state competition, the second-place team was from Miyamura High School in Gallup, and third place was from the New Mexico State University in Grants.
Students were tasked with building a barbecue grill in four hours using materials provided to test them on the different types of welds they learned during class.
Part of the challenge in the competition required students to design the blueprints.
Victor Gutierrez said his group worked together to build the first practice grill without any instructions, and then the students designed the blueprints from the first grill they built.
"We just practiced a lot, and it was trial and error," Victor Gutierrez said. "We just did it to see the design and that took us a pretty long time to do it because we didn't know how."
McHenry said Victor, Salvador and Monse Gutierrez spent seven days of their spring break designing and building the first practice grill before testing their teamwork on two more grills.
"It's a lot of teamwork," McHenry said. "They have to actually figure out what they are doing."
Students from the welding program at the CATE Center have competed at the SkillsUSA national competition for the last three years. A group won in 2011, and students took second place in 2012 and in 2013.
The welding program will send senior Montell Barber to the nationals competition to participate in the individuals program. The student who won first place at the state competition, Rio Grande High School student Gerald Lopez, will not participate. Barber, who took second place, will compete in his place. The individuals program will test students on a number of aspects involved in welding where they will be judged on technique and knowledge of procedures.
"I wasn't really expecting it," Barber said. "I was hoping to."