Special to the Daily News
Des Moines Area Community College Newton Campus Welding student Nathan Stratton of Baxter finished in third place in the welding division at the National Skills USA Competition recently held in Kansas City.
The 20-year-old advanced to the national competition by winning the State Skills USA Contest held in April on the DMACC Ankeny Campus. Stratton also won the state contest a year ago and advanced to the nationals, where he finished in 26th place. Stratton is no stranger to the State Skills USA Contest. As a high school junior, he placed third in the welding division and was second in the state as a high school senior.
Stratton said at nationals this year, he had to use three specific types of welding techniques to create three separate components from blueprints. In addition, he was judged on his interviewing skills and his score on a written test.
“The national competition was difficult, but I was prepared,” Stratton said. “It was a full-day of competition, and we were watched the entire time by judges.”
“Being selected for third place in the nation is phenomenal,” said DMACC Newton Campus Welding Instructor Keith Simpson, who, along with adjunct welding instructor Bill Morgan, accompanied Stratton to Kansas City. “Nathan has the welding skills needed at Vermeer, John Deere and other Iowa manufacturing companies.”
Stratton has also qualified for the World Skills Competition, which is held every other year. The location for the next world competition has not yet been determined.
Stratton, son of Dennis and Nancy Stratton of rural Baxter, is considering his career options, including staying on the family farm, where he has a welding shop. Stratton has graduated from DMACC’s Agri-Business program on the Ankeny Campus and the Welding program at Newton. He is now working on completing his American Welding Society certifications through the DMACC Newton Campus.
In addition, Colfax High School student Steven LaHart of Colfax placed 31st out of the 48 students who took part in the high school welding competition at the National Skills USA Competition.
Instructor Simpson said the demand for welders is strong in central Iowa as demonstrated by the fact that the 16-booth Newton welding lab is occupied from 7 a.m. to midnight offering classes for high school students, DMACC students, non-credit classes and even classes specifically for inmates from the Newton Correctional Facility and Iowa Correctional Institute for Women in Mitchellville.