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 Mr. 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, Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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 Mr. Fincher.
Mr. 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 Mr. Hayden.
As a GNTC student, Mr. 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 Mr. Fincher.