More than 45 students from 17 area high schools and vocational colleges converged on the Jonesboro campus of Arkansas State University-Newport recently for the fifth-annual Northeast Arkansas Weldathon, hosted by ASUN and Ozarc Gas.

Over $30,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded to the first, second and third place winners in the high school division, and also to first, second and third place winners in the vocational colleges division. The purpose of the contest was to provide the competitors with the opportunity to demonstrate, both through practical and theoretical application, their skills and knowledge in the industry relevant to safety-oriented welding and metal fabrication. Competitors were tested on safety and skills in MIG welding, oxy fuel cutting and fabrication, including layout and fit-up of materials.

In the high school division, Paragould High School took top honors, followed by Newport and Sloan-Hendrix.  Finishing first in the vocational college division was Pemiscot County Career and Technical Center.  Northeast Arkansas Career and Technical Center finished in second place, with Arkansas Northeastern Technical Center placing third.

Platinum sponsors for the Weldathon were Arkansas State University-Newport, Ozarc Gas and Equipment, American Railcar Industries, Nucor Hickman Steel, Nucor Yamato Steel, The Workforce Training Consortium, Ace Industrial Products, Victor Technologies, Fronius USA and Lincoln Electric.

"We are extremely thankful to our platinum sponsors, Ozarc Gas and our students and staff at the ASUN-Jonesboro campus," said Ken Beach, Instructor of Welding at ASUN. "It takes a great deal of effort and time to make this event run smoothly, and without all of them, none of this would be possible."

Other schools taking part in the competition were Manila, Piggott, Westside, Rector, Riverside, Buffalo Island Central, Valley View, Marked Tree, Gosnell, Brookland and Walnut Ridge.