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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Cardinal student Steen wins state welding competition

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | May 04, 2017
Cardinal senior Seth Steen brought home No. 1 in the welding division of the Skills USA Iowa competition in April.

ELDON — A Cardinal High School senior recently discovered that hard work and dedication to something worthwhile pays off, when he dominated over other welding students from across the state during the Skills USA Iowa Competition in April.

“I just went in there and just acted like it was just another weld just like every other weld in class,” said Seth Steen, a senior enrolled in the Indian Hills Community College Welding Academy Cardinal Area. “I just put in the work; you’ve got to keep a cool head and not worry.”

Steen brought home first place, earning him an opportunity to compete against students from around the nation including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the Skills USA Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky in June.

“I don’t really feel too special,” he said about his recent win.

Steen also snagged No. 1 in the Local 33 Weld Off Competition.

However, Cardinal Superintendent Joel Pedersen and IHCC Welding Academy instructor Andy Brainard might disagree with Steen when it comes to how special his wins are.

“This is a big deal ... best welder in state times two,” Pedersen said.

“Seth has had an amazing experience this year,” Brainard said. “I think he has a good a chance as anybody to go to nationals and win! He’s a very hardworking and driven student.”

Brainard said his entire class is hard working, and most fared well during the competition.

“We took six students, and five were in the top 25 — three of those were in the top 10,” he said.

Beyond competitions, Brainard explained that the welding students would graduate with both a high school diploma and a welding certificate that would translate into good paying jobs or valuable apprenticeships.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in these kids. I think they are running a strong work ethic, which is important. That’s one of the biggest things, that they will show up on time, do their job and become skilled craftsmen,” he said. “We’re looking at, from the high school side, graduating nine seniors, and I think we’re looking at somewhere between five and seven of them going right out of high school into a welding career.”

He said some of them had been recruited by Vermeer Corporation in Pella. As for Steen, he landed an apprenticeship with the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 33 Training Center in Des Moines.

“I’m kind of excited about the future job opportunities and my Local 33 apprenticeship,” Steen said.

Brainard explained that the five-year apprenticeship would offer more in-depth welder training, along with certifications in plumbing, hydraulics, heating and air conditioning and more.

“They are paid just like they are at work … and they get unbelievable amount of certifications,” he said. “I just give kids the basics, they are running with the rest. They are a hard working bunch of kids.”

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