Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) alumnus and SkillsUSA World Team Welder Ryan Fincher of Cedartown will begin the four-day WorldSkills Welding Competition, an elite international competition against the best welders from around the world, on Thursday, Aug. 22, in Kazan, Russia.
The 45th WorldSkills Competition is the world championship of skills and is considered the most prestigious international vocational skills competition. Competitors from 63 Member Countries and Regions are expected to take part in WorldSkills Kazan 2019, which will include competitions in a wide range of skilled trades.
“Always push yourself to be better don’t settle for just good enough,” said Fincher. “Push yourself and see what you are capable of or you’ll never know.”
Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded at the end of the competition. Medals for Excellence are also awarded to competitors who achieve above average scores in their contested area.
The last WordSkills Welding competition took place in 2017 at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and included representatives from China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, United States of America, Malaysia, Australia, Russia, Thailand, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Hungary, Ireland, Iran, Belgium, Mongolia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Norway, India, South Africa, Belarus, Sweden, Spain, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait and Zambia.
“Well there’s a little bit of a language barrier sometimes with other competitors but everyone has respect for one another because we’ve all made it to this level and we all know what it took to get to this level,” said Fincher.
Fincher was selected as the SkillsUSA World Team Welder to represent the nation in February. The announcement was made at an awards program hosted by the American Welding Society (AWS) in Huntsville, Ala.
As the World Team Welder, 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 since I heard of WorldSkills.”
Fincher competed in a four-stage process to become the SkillsUSA World Team Welder and has been training for WorldSkills 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 has experience in international welding competitions. 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.
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.
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.