Temple High School student Ivan Castillo uses a cutting torch during a weld-off at Temple High School on Saturday.

Different skill levels — including underwater welding — challenged about 45 high school students during a Saturday weld-off at Temple High School.

Jake Lingo, THS welding instructor, said 10 of the students were his, and that they faced three skill levels: horizontal groove welding, vertical groove welding and vertical pipe welding. All welders competed in the cutting contest.

In addition to this, Ocean Corporation of Houston brought an underwater welding rig and a special bucket so the students could compete in underwater welding. The winner of this will gain entry into the company’s summer competition, Lingo said. Qualifying students will weld in an eight-foot water tank, vying for a $22,500 welding school scholarship.

“This is an opportunity for them to put their skills to the test,” he said of this weekend’s contest. “All welders when applying for a job have to take a weld test.”

They get “test anxiety” or the jitters, he said, and the contests are similar to the job tests. Another benefit is that the students get a chance to visit with other students and welding instructors.

“Jobs for welders are based on networking,” he said.

Lingo said it was amazing that the welding students were choosing their career path so early.

“We’ve got so many of these young people who are taking to this,” he said. “They love what they’re doing.”

His students practiced until late Friday on their own, he said.

“We’re getting that level of dedication and drive,” he said.

Dalton Faubion, a THS senior, said he took welding as a filler class his freshman year, liked it, and has stayed with it. The welding students go to out-of-town contests about every two or three weeks, he said. When he graduates, he plans to attend Tulsa Welding School in Houston.

“I’m a very hands-on person, and it’s very rewarding work,” he said. “I want to do pipelines.”

Omar Garcia, a senior at Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, said he’s been in the program for three years.

“I heard it makes more money,” he said. “I like doing labor work.”

He plans to attend Texas State Technical College and wants to become a fabricator, he said.

Nick Maldonado of Troy said his son, Adrian, a junior in GWAMA, was in the contest.

“I used to weld a long time ago,” he said. “If it’s something he wants to do, I’m down with it.”

David Beesley, outside salesman at Temple Welding and Industrial Supply, said it’s the company’s second year to help with the weld-off. Welding has come a long way since he took it at Hondo High School, he said.

“It’s a great turnout compared to last year,” he said, with more students and schools participating.

High schools represented at the weld-off were Temple, Terrell, Gatesville, Milano, Methodist Children’s Home, GWAMA, Mexia, Midway, Waco and Columbus. Sponsors included Temple Machine Shop, Lincoln Electric, Golden Chick, Oak Farms Dairy, Wildcat Work Force, Action Autoglass, Ratto Construction of Salado, Lincoln Electric and Materials Transportation Co. of Temple.