The annual James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation (JFLF) Awards give students across America the chance to showcase their welding skills in the national spotlight and enhance their writing and problem-solving skills in the process.
Open to high school students, students in career and technical programs and those pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees, the Awards honor students who use their creativity and fabrication knowledge in a major welding project. Also considered in the judging are written reports that clearly explain the planning, execution, and results of the project. Winners, chosen on a regional and national scale, receive cash prizes and, depending on the award, their own personal wire welder.
Thanks to the valuable skills the program encourages and fosters, it’s common for instructors at high schools, vocational schools, and colleges to make participation in the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation Awards the final exam for their welding students. Curtis Willems, Agricultural Education Instructor at Highland High School in Arizona, is one of those teachers; this year, he had 40 students submit projects to be considered.
"The JFLF Awards are a wonderful program because they give students an incentive to use their creativity," Willems says. "Plus, participation is a cross-curricular experience that combines students’ welding skills with writing – which is a crucial skill for any career. And, the Awards also are a great way for students to enhance their problem-solving skills because they’re put in a hands-on scenario where they’re in control and have to figure out how to execute their projects from start to finish."
Ferris State University professor Dave Murray agrees.
"At Ferris State, we place one third of the welding engineers in the United States," Murray says. "This contest gives students the opportunity to really showcase what they've learned and who they are as a welder, plus receive unbiased, third party feedback on their skills."
Submitted projects range from the functional to the artistic. Highland student Joshua Hamberlain created an 18-inch wide, three-dimensional turtle that won him $1,000 and a Lincoln Electric MIG welder.
"The turtle was made entirely of 1/8-inch metal plates, just four pieces of metal in all that were tack welded together. Josh designed it using a computerized plasma cutter, and he put an incredible amount of effort and detail into the shape and design. It’s a really fantastic piece of art," Willems says.
Some of Willems’ other students were also winners. Jordan Hibben won $1,000 and a Lincoln Electric wire welder for a heavy-duty hand truck, complete with inflatable tires and a spare tire rack, and Bradley Dishong created an intricate vine trellis that earned him $750. Jake Domangue will receive $500 and wire welder for designing and developing a goat stand.
Two Highland students even created a two-person ferris wheel that actually allows riders to go upside down.
Another uniquely functional contraption was created by Ferris State students William Carlson, Travis Goetz, and Travis Stempky. They teamed up to create an 8 ½-foot tall exercise wheel for Alaskan Malamutes that also generates power.
"It’s such an ingenious idea," Murray says. "Malamutes require a ton of exercise, and this wheel allows them to run in their pens while also creating electricity."
Another Ferris State student, Jennifer Maxwell, put her school pride to use in her project. Inspired by a large sculpture of Ferris State’s mascot, Brutus the Bulldog, on campus grounds, Maxwell created a modernized Brutus sculpture, using an automated plasma cutter to create a miniature, 2 ½ foot steel version of the larger bulldog.
"The entire process took me 13 weeks, from the initial planning to the final touches," says Maxwell, who won $1,000 and a wire welder for her entry. "It was definitely a busy and somewhat stressful process, but I have such a feeling of accomplishment now. I’m so glad Professor Murray encouraged us to enter the awards competition – and that he let me keep the miniature Brutus for myself."
The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation Awards are distributed each year to deserving students to recognize their hard work incorporating both theoretical and practical engineering concepts in the design, development and fabrication of a final project.
For more details, visit jflf.org.