HHS student sparks attention after national welding victory
Andrew Zera recently traveled to a national welding competition in San Antonio and came home with $750, $400 of tools and a welding machine after finishing in first place.
Zera, a Hahnville High School senior, traveled to San Antonio last week to compete and returned to St. Charles Parish with a prize that included $750, $400 worth of tools and a welding machine.
Zera said that he was excited to win, but he was even more excited to have the tools he will need to be a professional in the welding field when he graduates.
“The tools will definitely come in handy later in life with metal working,” he said. “As soon as I graduate, I can start working. I’m looking forward to it.”
Zera sparked some attention last month when he beat out industry professionals to win the regional welding competition. That win earned him an all-expenses-paid trip to 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 Associated Builders and Contractors of St. Rose came to HHS during a career fair in 2009, Zera jumped on the opportunity to try welding.
Zera takes night classes twice a week at ABC. His instructor, Chris Weber, said that the national win was impressive and that everyone at ABC was happy. Weber, director of instruction at ABC, 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.
Next year Zera hopes to return to the competition and compete in a new category: pipe welding.
“This is my career choice,” Zera said about welding. “I enjoy doing it and it’s what I want to do in life.”
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