Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) student Ryan Fincher of Cedartown was honored by the American Welding Society (AWS) for winning the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the 2017 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held this summer in Louisville, Ky.


Ryan Fincher (c), Rene’ Engeron (right), Joe Burrage (l),


Rene’ Engeron, chairman of the Atlanta section of AWS, presented Fisher with the Robert J. Conkling Memorial Award and a check for $250 on behalf of the AWS Board of Directors.


“Skilled trades are in very high demand right now and our country was literally built on welding,” said Engeron.


The award is dedicated to Robert J. Conkling who contributed extensively to the development of the AWS Welding Show and Convention.


“Winning the gold medal in SkillsUSA’s National Championships felt like a huge accomplishment,” said Fisher. “It felt pretty awesome being able to compete with some of the best welders in the nation and coming out on top.”


Fisher also was a top six finalist for American Welding Society’s U.S. Invitational Weld Trials that were held a year ago at Robotics Technology Park in Huntsville, Ala.


Every two years, the AWS invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in the four-stage competition that decides the SkillsUSA World Team Welder. All competitors were state champions and competed at the national level for SkillsUSA. Fisher was one of the six national finalists that was chosen to participate in the second stage of the competition.


Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 14,151 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,956 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 6,195 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us at or contact a Student Help Center on any one of our six campus locations at 866-983-4682.  GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.