HHS student beats industry pros at welding competition
Andrew Zera practices welding during class at Associated Builders and Contractors in St. Rose. Zera recently won a regional welding competition and is one of only eight high school students enrolled at ABC.
In fact, almost half of the welders that Zera beat are already certified welders working in the industry.
Zera, a senior at Hahnville High School, won first place at the regional welding competition for plate welding and will now move on to the 2011 Edcon and Expo national competition in San Antonio, Texas in April.
He has been taking night classes on welding at Associated Builders and Contractors, or ABC, in St. Rose since 2009 and is fascinated by the work. Now Zera says he is sure that his future is in welding.
But he is not stressing out about the national competition - he’s keeping a level head and trying not to set his expectations too high.
“I’m going to walk in there and just do my thing,” he said.
Chris Weber, director of instruction and facilities management at ABC, said he thinks Zera has a chance of winning. Last year, a student at ABC in St. Rose won third place at the national competition.
Zera first became interested in welding through curiosity. His uncle is a pipe fitter in Alaska and he always saw welding on TV and wondered how it worked. So when ABC of St. Rose came to HHS during a career fair in 2009, Zera jumped on the opportunity to try welding.
Now he goes to night classes twice a week at ABC and is doing better and excelling faster than most other students.
Weber said that he has never seen a student succeed as quickly as Zera has.
“I’ve never had a high school student do so well. It’s amazing - the attitude he has, the way he understands things and the way he follows directions…it’s unbelievable to me,” Weber said.
Of the more than 80 night students at ABC, only about eight are in high school. They do not receive high school credit for the course, but the knowledge will be invaluable after graduation.
“I’m getting a jump start by doing this in high school,” Zera said.
Weber said that in six short years, Zera could be climbing the ranks and become a welding inspector.
Zera is the son of Joe and Kimberly Zera of Luling.
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