Georgia Northwestern Technical College alumnus and SkillsUSA World Team Welder Ryan Fincher of Cedartown won the Medallion for Excellence at the 2019 WorldSkills Welding Competition – a prestigious international competition that included some of the best welders from around the world – in Kazan, Russia.
WorldSkills Kazan 2019 took place Aug. 22-27 and brought together 1,354 competitors from 63 countries and regions.
“Preparing for WorldSkills has pushed me to always find better ways and more efficient ways to make a weld and get the best product,” said Fincher.
There were competitions in 56 different skill areas during WorldSkills 2019. The competitions included a wide range of industries and skilled trades. Each competitor was the national representative, or part of a team of national representatives, in their skill area for their home country and region. Fincher was the American representative in welding and was sixth overall out of 38 competitors in the welding skill area.
“The WorldSkills Competition has become far more than just a youth contest. In fact, it has grown into a competition for the future, forming a diverse multicultural and international platform where participants can work, compete, and communicate,” said Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia, during the opening ceremony for WorldSkills 2019.
The Welding Skills Competition at WorldSkills 2019 included representatives from 38 countries including Kingdom of Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Jamaica, Korea, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, United States of America, Belarus, India, Sweden, Vietnam, Ireland, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), South Africa, Spain, Malaysia, Namibia, New Zealand, Portugal, Netherlands, Estonia, Canada, Poland, Austria, Mongolia, Belgium, Norway, Finland, Japan, Switzerland and China.
“I have learned that there are a lot of great welders in the world,” said Fincher.
Fincher was selected as the SkillsUSA World Team Welder to represent the nation at WorldSkills in February. The announcement was made at an awards program hosted by the American Welding Society (AWS) in Huntsville, Ala.
“It was a little overwhelming,” said Fincher “I’ve always dreamed of it and thought about it, but I never thought I could actually do it.”
As the SkillsUSA World Team Welder, Fincher received a $40,000 scholarship.
Fincher competed in a four-stage process to become the SkillsUSA World Team Welder and has been training for WorldSkills 2019 for years.
“Ryan is the first person in the State of Georgia to become the SkillsUSA World Team Welder,” 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.
Fincher already had experience in international welding competitions before the WorldSkills Competition in Russia. 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 also has trained in Eisenberg, Germany and Gansu, China. These international trips were part of his preparation for WorldSkills 2019.
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 me out a lot and they have done everything in their will power to get me ready not just for these competitions, but for the real world,” said Fincher.