Texas State Technical College will host a Welding Pro-Am and Show-n-Shine competition on Saturday, July 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Riverside Park in Brownwood.   

Professional welders will team up with TSTC students to create a barbecue pit during the competition, while the “show-n-shine” will allow the professionals to showcase some of their works. Prizes will be awarded for competition winners, and the barbecue pits will be auctioned off for the public around 4 p.m.   

The event is free and open to the public, and all proceeds will benefit the TSTC Texan Success Scholarship Campaign.   

Keith Armentrout leads the welding program at TSTC’s Brownwood office. Armentrout said the pro-am event, which was staged for the first time in Hutto last year, allows students to bridge the gap between school and the professional world.   

“I’ve been in the industry for 27 years, and I’ve noticed there’s such a huge gap between younger generations coming out of school and actually being implemented into the workforce out in the field,” Armentrout said. “So I came up with the idea to have a pro-am, which takes a professional welder and an amateur, which is a student, and I pair them together as a team.”   

Armentrout said both team members are required to do 50 percent of the work. They compete with other teams by building a small tailgate barbecue pit. “It gives the professionals a chance to see that the students are actually learning something that is useful in the field,” Armentrout said, “and that they’re capable of implementing that. It also gives the student a chance to see what is still left to learn after they leave school.”   

Plus, he said, it ensures that TSTC welding students will have at least one professional contact once they graduate. “It shortens that gap,” Armentrout said.   

Armentrout said that his professional welders will be traveling to Brownwood from “all over,” and representing all kinds of industries — oil and gas, heavy equipment, structural, high-tech and pipeline included.   

The Show-N-Shine competition, he said, will allow the professional welders to bring their trucks and show off their fabrication skills. “Most of the welders, they build their own welding beds on their trucks,” Armentrout said. “They put a lot of time and effort into their trucks. It’s kind of like their signature.”   

He equated the Show-N-Shine to a car show. “They get to put a spit polish on their trucks and show them off,” he said.   

The Texan Success Scholarships are designed to help low-income Texans further their education, and the proceeds from the pro-am are specifically designated to help prospective welding students.   

Armentrout said there is still limited space available if local welders would like to join the competition. Anyone interested can sign up at http://bit.ly/Show-N-Shine2017.   

The TSTC Brownwood campus offers a Level One certification welding program with two- and three-semester courses. More information is available at www.tstc.edu/campuses/brownwood.