Carroll Tech Center sees national recognition, named semifinalists in 'WeldItForward' contest

Carroll Tech Center sees national recognition, named semifinalists in 'WeldItForward' contest
Welders Madie McClester and Fletcher Frotton show off some of their gear at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

For two students in Carroll’s Tech Center welding program, the next few months will be a chance to showcase their talent on a national scale.

The Carroll County Career and Technology Center is one of six semifinalist schools in the ESAB WeldItForward Student Contest. There are two phases to the contest — an essay portion and metal fabrication project.


Carroll and the other five semifinalists — three at the high school level and three at the college level — were chosen through the essay contest phase, which welding students Madie McClester and Fletcher Frotton worked on as a team, according to a news release from Carroll County Public Schools.

Each school participating in the project was awarded an equipment package with a value of more than $6,900, according to the release. The schools also received identical project kits containing an assortment of metal shapes and components, all of which must be integrated into a fabricated project using some or all of the ESAB equipment provided, according the release. Students may use supplementary metal and equipment.

In order to buy supplementary materials, the students are seeking funding. They are hoping to raise $3,000, Tech Center Principal Bill Eckles said via email. Anyone interested in helping can donate by check or cash sent to the school, and checks should be made out to the Carroll County Career and Technology Center with WeldItForward in the memo line, he said.

Eckles said it’s exciting the students’ hard work is paying off, and that they’re being recognized on such a large scale. And, he added, he’s appreciative of the new equipment the school has received.

“I’m very proud of them for being selected,” he said, adding that the welding class has performed at a consistently high level.

McClester said the plan is to create a grill and smoker that’s in the shape of a train. It’s something they stumbled across, she said, when she and Frotton were looking up ideas online. They knew they wanted to do a grill or something similar, and the train idea seemed perfect, she said.

“We thought nobody else would do it,” McClester said.

Now that McClester, of Westminster High School, and Frotton, of Liberty High School, have the basic idea, the two need to start working on raising the money for materials and creating a blueprint. From there, they will begin cutting pieces and welding them into the planned project, which will likely take a few months, McClester said.

“We also have to get it painted, too,” Frotton said, so long as they are finished in time.

The project is due March 9.

While creating their train smoker, the team is required to “thoroughly document” the project, according to the release, with images, videos, plans, blueprints and/or bill of materials. And once it’s turned in, the six final projects will be posted online for the general public to vote on to help select one high school and one post-secondary school as grand-prize winners.

Each grand-prize-winning school will receive an equipment “makeover” of their welding program, according to the release. The welding instructor will work with their local ESAB sales representative to choose the specific ESAB equipment that best suits their school’s needs, for a total retail value not to exceed $20,000 per school, according to the release.

For Frotton and McClester, being in the Tech Center’s welding program has taught them to work well with others on different projects. And, McClester added, it taught her about responsibility.

“It teaches you responsibility because you have to make sure, if you’re building something for a client, you have to make sure that you do it on time and that you’ll do it correctly,” she added.


McClester said she’s “so nervous” about the competition their project can win. It’s nerve-wracking because it’s such a big, national contest, Frotton added.

But if they do win, McClester said, it’ll be a way to give back to the program that has helped mold their futures.

“It’s for our school and it’s for our teacher, for all the help that he’s given us,” she said, referring to Mike Schweinsberg. “This is kind of giving back.”