FCTS Student Wins Notch Pipe Welding Competition


TURNERS FALLS, MA – Kyle Bry, a Franklin County Technical School Welding and Metal Fabrication student, recently won the highly competitive 19th Annual Notch Pipe Welding Challenge event at Notch Mechanical Constructors in Chicopee, MA.


For Bry, the win was not just his accomplishment, but also the whole school’s achievement. He pointed out that Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton has done very well at the event for the last few years.


“I thought Blackstone Valley would take it,” Bry said of this year’s competition. “They swept last year and took second and third place this year. I was beyond words when I found out I won first place. It was unbelievable.”


By winning the competition, Bry was named “Top Notch Welder” and awarded $500 cash, a prize pack of $1,500 worth of welding tools and supplies, a Bend-Off Medallion and a first place trophy. Franklin County Technical School also received a $500 certificate for professional supplies to use in its welding program.


In addition to his prizes, Bry also received three job offers, one of which “looks promising,” he said. Bry, a 16-year-old junior, will work as a welder in the school’s co-op program during his senior year.


Bry said his welding instructors Jesse Edward and Lorin Burrows were confident he could pass his certification test and be among those in the competition who might have a shot at placing in the top 3, “but, I wasn’t sure how it would go.”


“It was my first year doing it,” he said. “I had a few things I wanted to accomplish this year. Winning this competition was one of them.”


Notch Mechanical Constructors has organized and sponsored the weld challenge since 1998. Each year, competitors spend several months learning and practicing welding techniques in a vocational classroom setting. Between March and April, participants in the competition perform a 6″ open-root pipe weld using the Shielded Metal Arc Welding process, also known as SMAW or “stick” welding. The completed weld coupons are judged in May by certified weld inspectors in accordance with ASME Section IX requirements.


This year, 109 students from 12 schools in western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut competed in the event. Besides winning the competition, Bry was also among a number of student welders who achieved the ASME 1G qualification level. He also plans on graduating from FCTS with a Structural Steel Certification and certificate of completion from the American Welding Society.


Bry, who lives in Sunderland, said his father Bill, a Franklin County Technical School welding program graduate, taught him to weld when he was 8-years-old. He said he dedicated himself fully to welding once he was accepted into the school’s welding program.


“I’ve learned a lot in my time here,” Bry said. “I like to build anything out of metal that comes into my head. Anything I can think of can be made into a real physical object. This program is definitely setting me up for success.”


Edwards said Bry is a dedicated and reliable student who loves to learn.


“He’s put in a lot of work to get where he’s gotten,” he said. “Some kids have the skills, but don’t put in the time or work that Kyle does. He’s one of our go-to guys in the shop. We can count on him to get stuff done that needs to be done.”

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