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GNTC’s Fincher Wins Nationals, Headed To Russia

GNTC alum Ryan Fincher selected as the U.S. representative for an international welding competition in Russia

Man with gray button-down shirt holds trophy while posing for outside picture at night. Soft lighting in the distance.
GNTC alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown was selected as the U.S. representative for an elite international competition in Russia against the best welders from around the world.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus and 2017 SkillsUSA welding national champion Ryan Fincher was chosen to be the U.S. representative in an elite international competition against the best welders from around the world.

On Thursday, Fincher was selected as the SkillsUSA World Team Welder to represent the nation at the WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia.

The announcement was made at an awards program hosted by the American Welding Society (AWS) in Huntsville, Ala. The WorldSkills Competition will take place Aug. 22-27.

As the winner, Fincher will receive a $40,000 scholarship in addition to representing the nation against the best WorldSkills welders from other countries.

“It is an honor to be able to represent the U.S.,” said Fincher. “I have always dreamed about this every since I heard of WorldSkills.”

A resident of Cedartown, Fincher has been competing in a four-stage process for the past several months to become the SkillsUSA World Team Welder.

The final stage of the competition took place Feb. 16-21 at Alabama Robotics Technology Park in Tanner, Ala.

“Ryan is the first person in the State of Georgia to win this competition,” said Matt Hayden, instructor of Welding and Joining Technology at GNTC.

Hayden is also an instructor of Metals and Welding at Cedartown High School and has been coaching Fincher since he was high a school student.

Every two years, the AWS invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in the four-stage competition to decide the SkillsUSA World Team Welder. All competitors were state champions and have competed at the National Level for SkillsUSA.

In 2016, Fincher was a top six finalist to become the SkillsUSA World Team Welder.

Fincher already has experience in international welding competitions. This past summer, he was selected by the AWS to be the American representative in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing and won the bronze medal.

Fincher’s trip to China was part of his preparation to compete in the four-part Team USA Welder Selection competition. There were representatives from China, Mongolia, Korea, Russia, Australia, and other countries at the competition in Beijing.

“I was amazed at the quality and level that the other welders at the competition in China were operating at and it has given me a goal to try to be better than what I have seen them accomplish,” said Fincher.

Fincher is currently working as a part-time lab assistant in the Welding and Joining program at GNTC and has been practicing and preparing full-time for the four-part competition for the past several months. Fincher practiced at GNTC’s welding labs and the welding labs at Cedartown High School.

“Since the beginning of August, Ryan quit working full-time and has been practicing full-time for this competition,” said Hayden.

As a GNTC student, Fincher won the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017 and became the college’s first ever national champion. Fincher graduated from GNTC in 2017.

“These competitions have pushed me to always find better ways and more efficient ways to be a better welder and strive for perfection each time I step into the booth,” said Fincher.

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, 12,785 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,499 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,286 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

GNTC alum Ryan Fincher Selected as One of Three Finalists for an International Welding Competition in Russia

Man in blue and yellow jacket is wearing welding gear and preparing to work on a project in a welding station.
GNTC alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown was selected as one of three finalists to become the U.S. representative in an elite international competition against the best welders from around the world.

 

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus and 2017 SkillsUSA welding national champion Ryan Fincher has added an additional accomplishment to his long list of achievements in Welding and Joining Technology.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, he was selected as one of three finalists to become the U.S. representative in an elite international competition against the best welders from around the world. The announcement was made at an awards program hosted by the American Welding Society (AWS) at Alabama Robotics Technology Park in Tanner, Ala.

“The Welding and Joining Technology program at GNTC helped prepare me not only for these competitions, but also for the real world,” said Fincher.

A resident of Cedartown, Fincher has been competing in the American Welding Society (AWS) U.S. Invitational Weld Trials for the past several months. The competition is a four-stage process to select the SkillsUSA World Team Welder to represent the nation at the WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia.

By advancing to the final three, Fincher enters the final stage of the competition to select the American representative. The WorldSkills Competition will take place Aug. 22-27, 2019.

“Ryan is the first person in the State of Georgia to make it to the final three in this competition,” said Matt Hayden, instructor of Welding and Joining Technology at GNTC.

Hayden is also an instructor of Metals and Welding at Cedartown High School and has been coaching Fincher since he was high a school student.

Every two years, the AWS invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in the four-stage competition that will decide the SkillsUSA World Team Welder. All competitors were state champions and have competed at the National Level for SkillsUSA. In 2016, Fincher was a top six finalist in the AWS WorldSkills Pre-Trials.

The SkillsUSA World Team Welder will be selected from the top three finalists during the AWS/SkillsUSA TeamUSA Finals, Feb. 16-23, at Alabama Robotics Technology Park. The winner will receive a $40,000 scholarship in addition to representing the nation against the best WorldSkills welders from other countries.

Fincher already has experience in international welding competitions. In July, he was selected by the AWS to be the American representative in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing and won the bronze medal.

Fincher’s trip to China was part of his preparation to compete in the four-part Team USA Welder Selection competition. There were representatives from China, Mongolia, Korea, Russia, Australia, and other countries at the competition in Beijing.

“I was amazed at the quality and level that the other welders at the competition in China were operating at and it has given me a goal to try to be better than what I have seen them accomplish,” said Fincher.

Fincher is currently working as a part-time lab assistant in the Welding and Joining program at GNTC and is also practicing and preparing full-time for the AWS/SkillsUSA TeamUSA Finals. Fincher is practicing at GNTC’s welding labs and the welding labs at Cedartown High School.

“Since the beginning of August, Ryan quit working full-time and has been practicing full-time for this competition,” said Hayden.

As a GNTC student, Fincher won the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017 and became the college’s first ever national champion. Fincher graduated from GNTC in 2017.

“These competitions have pushed me to always find better ways and more efficient ways to be a better welder and strive for perfection each time I step into the booth,” said Fincher.

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, 16,402 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,750 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 8,652 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us atwww.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

GNTC Alum Welder Sets Sights On Russia, One of Six Finalists in International Competition

Man in black buttoned down GNTC shirt is wearing a ball cap and standing outside of a welding station.
GNTC alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown is one of six finalists competing in the AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials. Three finalists will be chosen to go to the next stage and the winner will go on to compete internationally with welders from around the world.

 

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown is one of six finalists selected for the American Welding Society (AWS) U.S. Invitational Weld Trials – part of a four stage process to select the SkillsUSA World Team Welder to represent the nation at the 2019 WorldSkills Completion.

 

The AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials will take place Dec. 3-9 at Robotics Technology Park in Huntsville, Ala. Three finalists will be chosen at the Weld Trials to go to the next stage to compete to become the U.S. representative at the international welding competition.

 

The SkillsUSA World Team Welder will be selected on Feb. 17 from the top three finalists at the AWS TeamUSA Finals. The winner will receive a $40,000 scholarship in addition to representing the nation against the best WorldSkills welders from other countries.

 

The WorldSkills Competition will take place Aug. 22-27, 2019, in Kazan, Russia.

 

“The Welding and Joining Technology program at GNTC pushed me to be the best welder I can be and has always helped me as much as they can along the way,” said Fincher.

 

Every two years, the AWS invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in the four-stage competition that will decide the SkillsUSA World Team Welder. All competitors were state champions and have competed at the National Level for SkillsUSA.

 

This is second time Fincher has made the top six. In 2016, he was one of six finalists for the 2017 WorldSkills Competition.

 

“This is the result of Ryan practicing sometimes for 12 to 16 hours a day, six to seven days a week” said Matt Hayden, GNTC Welding Instructor.

 

Fincher and the other five finalists will be working in the American Welding Society’s exhibition booth at FABTECH 2018, Nov. 3-9, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta as part of their preparation for the U.S. Invitational Weld Trials.

 

“FABTECH is America’s largest metalworking show,” said Hayden.

 

In July, Fincher won the bronze medal in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing, China. Fincher was selected to be the American representative at the competition in China by the AWS. There were representatives from China, Mongolia, Korea, Russia, Australia, and other countries at the competition.

 

Fincher’s trip to China was part of his preparation to compete in the four part Team USA Welder Selection competition.

 

“I was nervous, but it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Fincher. “It was a very eye opening experience how the people in China treat their guests. They have a lot of hospitality.”

 

As a GNTC student, Fincher won the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017 and became the college’s first ever national champion. Fincher graduated from GNTC in 2017.

 

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, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

GNTC Alum Ryan Fincher wins Bronze Medal in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing

Ryan Fincher (r) in China
Ryan Fincher (right) of Cedartown poses for a picture with his interpreter after winning the bronze medal in in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing.

 

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown won the bronze medal in the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing, China.

 

The competition took place July 22-31. Fincher was selected to be the American representative at the competition in China by the American Welding Society (AWS). There were representatives from China, Mongolia, Korea, Russia, Australia, and other countries at the competition.

 

“I was nervous, but it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” said Fincher. “It was a very eye opening experience how the people in China treat their guests. They have a lot of hospitality.”

 

Fincher’s trip to China was part of his preparation to compete in the four part Team USA Welder Selection competition that decides which SkillsUSA welder will represent the U.S. in the international WorldSkills Competition that takes place every two years.

 

Fincher said that the international trip helped him learn some tips and techniques that he thinks will make him a better welder.

 

“Everything was metric at the competition in China,” said Fincher. “U.S. welders measure wire feed speed in inches per minute, there it was millimeters per minute, so I was having to convert all of my work from standard to metric.”

 

As a GNTC student, Fincher won the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017 and became the college’s first ever national champion. Fincher graduated from GNTC in 2017.

 

“The Welding and Joining Technology program at GNTC helped prepare me not only for these competitions, but also for the real world,” said Fincher.

 

Fincher was also a top six finalist for American Welding Society’s U.S. Invitational Weld Trials in 2017. The Weld Trials are part of the American Welding Society’s process to select the SkillsUSA World Team Welder, who will be the U.S. representative in the international WorldSkills Competition against the best welders from around the globe.

 

The next WorldSkills Competition will take place Aug. 22-27, 2019, in Kazan, Russia.

 

Every two years, the AWS invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in a four-stage competition that will decide the SkillsUSA World Team Welder. All competitors were state champions and have competed at the national level for SkillsUSA.

 

The first stage of the Team USA Welder Selection competition begins with the AWS U.S. Invitational Pre-Trials. Contestants are given a set of WorldSkills welding projects to complete in their home states. The projects are then sent to the AWS Skills committee that will choose the top six for the next stage.

 

The top six pre-trial finalists then compete for the top three positions at the AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials.

 

The SkillsUSA World Team Welder will be selected from the top three finalists at the AWS TeamUSA Finals and will receive a $40,000 scholarship in addition to representing the U.S. at the WorldSkills Competition.

 

Participants must be active SkillsUSA members who are enrolled in, or have graduated, from a welding program and must be younger than 23 during the year of the WorldSkills Competition.

 

Fincher is the only top six finalist from 2017 that will still be under 23 when the 2019 WorldSkills Competition takes place, which is why he was selected by the AWS for the competition in China. Fincher is currently competing in the pre-trials to select the 2019 SkillsUSA World Team Welder and the top six finalists will be announced on Oct. 15. The competition to select the top three finalists will take place Dec. 3-9.

 

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, 16,402 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,750 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 8,652 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

GNTC Alum Ryan Fincher invited to Welding Competition in Beijing, China

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown was selected by the American Welding Society (AWS) to attend the China International Welding Competition 2018 in Beijing.

 

Man standing in front of welding bays inside a building. He is wearing black baseball cap with plaid shirt and jeans. He is wearing a gold medal around his neck.
Ryan Fincher of Cedartown poses for a picture with the gold medal he won at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017. Fincher is GNTC’s first ever SkillsUSA national champion.

 

Fincher’s trip to China will be part of his preparation to compete in the four part Team USA Welder Selection competition that decides which SkillsUSA welder will represent the U.S. in the international WorldSkills Welding competition that takes place every two years.

 

Fincher was selected to be the American representative at the competition in China by the AWS. He will leave for China on July 22 and will return to the U.S. on July 31. The American Welding Society will cover all of his expenses.

 

As a GNTC student, Fincher won the gold medal in the Welding Competition at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017 and became the college’s first ever national champion. Fincher graduated from GNTC in 2017.

 

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

 

Man in blue jacket with gold sleeves and wearing a welding mask is posing for a picture of himself holding a welding torch.
GNTC alumnus Ryan Fincher of Cedartown works on a project in the Welding lab on GNTC’s Floyd County Campus in Rome.

 

Fincher was also a top six finalist for American Welding Society’s U.S. Invitational Weld Trials in 2017. The Weld Trials are part of the American Welding Society’s process to select the SkillsUSA World Team Welder; the U.S. representative in the international welding competition against the best WorldSkills welders from around the globe.

 

“It felt pretty awesome when I found out I made the top six,” said Fincher. “Like I had accomplished something really big.”

 

The next WorldSkills Competition will take place Aug. 22-27, 2019, in Kazan, Russia.

 

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

 

Fincher is the only U.S. competitor that competed in the top six in 2017 that is going to compete in the Team USA Welder Selection competition again. This is why he was invited to China, according to Matt Hayden, instructor of Metals and Welding at Cedartown High School and instructor of Welding and Joining Technology at GNTC.

 

“Ryan is not just a great student and great welder, he is a great young man,” said Hayden “All of the success that he has had is the result of his work ethic and I fully expect him to be very successful in life in everything he does.”

 

Hayden also serves on the education committee and competition committee for the American Welding Society.

 

The competition in Beijing that Fincher is attending is being held as part of the process to select China’s World Team Welder. Fincher will be taking part in the competition in China as practice for the four stage Team USA Welder Selection competition. Ray Connolly the chief welding expert for the U.S. will accompany Fincher to Beijing. Connolly won a gold medal at the WorldSkills Championship in Montreal, Canada in 1999.

 

“At our top six and top three competitions we always invite different countries to bring some of their best competitors over to build relationships with those countries,” said Hayden. “So that is what China is doing in return and this will be more practice for Ryan for the Team USA Welder Selection competition.”

 

“This is also the first time we have sent someone to China for this,” continued Hayden.

 

The first stage Team USA Welder Selection competition begins with the AWS U.S. Invitational Pre-Trials. Contestants are given a set of WorldSkills Competition projects to complete in their home states. The projects are scored by the AWS Skills committee and the students that submit the top six projects are invited to participate in the next stage.

 

The top six pre-trial finalists then compete for the top three positions at the AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials. The top six and top three compete along with other competitors invited from other countries.

 

“It builds relationships with those countries and the competitors get to know each other fairly well,” said Hayden. “At our last top six completion China sent their top two competitors and we have also had competitors from Australia, England, Canada, and Russia. So we always have other countries participate in the U.S. competitions.”

 

The SkillsUSA World Team Welder will be selected from the top three finalists at the AWS TeamUSA Finals and will receive a $40,000 scholarship in addition to representing the U.S. in the WorldSkills Welding Competition.

 

Participants must be active SkillsUSA members who are enrolled in, or have graduated, from a welding program and must be younger than 23 during the year of the WorldSkills Welding 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, 16,402 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,750 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 8,652 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

WRCB Highlighting Welding at Georgia Northwestern

WRCB (NBC) is visiting the Walker County Campus at this hour to check out the Welding and Joining Technology program. WRCB’s John Martin is getting footage of some of what GNTC Welding and Technology Instructor Jeremiah Cooper is working on with some of the students this morning. Mr. Cooper is the 2018 GNTC Perkins Instructor of the Year.

GNTC is home to the 2018 SkillsUSA Georgia Welding Gold Medalist Jacob Hargrove of Catoosa County, Georgia.

GNTC Student Ryan Fincher honored by the American Welding Society

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 GNTC.edu 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.

American Dream, Passion at Foundation of Local SkillsUSA National Qualifier

Whitfield County, GA welder to compete against best in nation

 

(Whitfield County, Georgia)  Wearing his American Flag bandana, 21-year-old Daniel Lopez looks up from his latest project on the Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Whitfield Murray Campus (WMC) for a quick picture. But trying to sum up his life in a snapshot would be impossible. Although you wouldn’t call him your typical blue-collar worker, you may say Lopez already has a degree in hard work.

Of course, he comes by it honestly.

Daniel Lopez - Welding - SkillsUSA
“Whitfield Murray Campus welding technology student Daniel Lopez of Dalton, Georgia dons his American Flag bandana as he takes a look at a project being completed in the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Welding Technology lab. Lopez is part of a three-person welding fabrication team which has qualified to compete against some of the best young welders in the nation this summer.”

Less than two months from his trip to compete against some of the best welders in America at the National SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Kentucky, the Dalton, Georgia native’s story starts more than 20 years ago when his parents moved from Mexico hoping for a great life in the states. It would be their first-born that would really help make their dreams a reality.

The oldest child of Maria and Dionisio Lopez, Daniel is the first person in his family to go to college. However, working a full-time job Friday through Sunday at Dalton, Georgia’s Tandus Centiva and then part-time hours with Rossville, Georgia’s Warrior Guitars, Lopez is truly putting his blue-collar roots and servant’s heart to work every day of the week.

“I am a lot like my parents. My mom does in-home care for special needs kids and my dad is a maintenance man. They have good hearts and just work hard,” proudly stated Lopez. “Twelve-hour shifts at the plant and working extra hours whenever they (Warrior Guitars) need is a lot. But I like it. It’s worth it.” Lopez is an hourly employee at Tandus Centiva and helps make guitar bodies for the Walker County, Georgia music business in his spare time.

Spare time is not something this Southeast Whitfield alum has a lot of these days, though. You can blame that on his success.

Lopez, along with fellow Dalton, Georgia resident Isaiah Jackson, and Ringgold, Georgia resident Jacob Hargrove are scheduled to travel to the SkillsUSA National Competition June 19-23. These three comprise the college’s Welding Fabrication team; the event in which they took home top honors on the state level in March to help them earn the national bid.

“This is the first GNTC welding team headed to the national level to have someone from the Whitfield Murray Campus,” said GNTC Welding Instructor Wayne Henderson. “Just knowing Daniel and his work ethic, it doesn’t surprise me that he’d be a part of something like this. He’s meant for something big.”

Before Lopez won a Georgia Northwestern Technical College Foundation scholarship to attend the WMC in 2014, he previously caught the eye of SkillsUSA judges while competing on the high school level down in Raider country. As a Southeast Whitfield High School competitor, Lopez placed second in the state in a woodworking category. “I love working with wood, too,” said Lopez. “First thing I ever made was a wooden trailer for a remote-controlled car I owned. I wanted it to have a trailer and I couldn’t find one anywhere that anyone sold. So, I made my own.”

Lopez is now building a career for himself as he anticipates completing his Welding Technology diploma by the end of 2017. With younger siblings still in school and looking up to him, Lopez has no plans on slowing down now. “I have my own dreams,” said Lopez. “I’m just glad I’m getting a chance to make them happen. Just thankful for getting the chance to compete this June. I just want to be able to show what I can do.”

SkillsUSA is a national, non-profit student organization that has developed more than 10 million workers through active partnerships between employers, educators, and industry leaders. SkillsUSA programs include local, state, and national competitions in which students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills. At the annual SkillsUSA National Championship, nearly 6,000 students compete in 100 occupational and leadership skill areas.

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 GNTC.edu or contact a Student Help Center on any one of our six campus locations at 866-983-4682.  For information online, visit the college at GNTC.edu, as well as on GNTC’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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