Tabitha Bronson proudly pulled up a photo on her phone of a metal rose that her son Jory Bronson welded for her. Later, Jory mentioned how he already received a job offer in Texas to work as a welder on an offshore oil rig, giving him the chance to do structural and pipe welding underwater. His mom was still on the fence about this, calling it “amazing” and “scary” and wanting him to finish school. Regardless of what Jory decides to do in the future, he has taken his skill and passion of welding to new heights.
On April 4, Jory competed in the North Dakota SkillsUSA welding competition at the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) in Wahpeton, N.D. On April 5, he found out he won this competition to become the North Dakota SkillsUSA welding state champion and earn a right to compete in the SkillsUSA Championships, June 20-24 in Atlanta, Ga.
Jory talked about his start in welding, how he earned this national trip, his response to winning, what he looks forward to about the opportunity, and his future plans. Tabitha also chimed in on her son’s welding passion and his recent achievement.
A 2021 Badger High School graduate and current NDSCS student in Wahpeton, Jory got his start in welding in Mike Coltom’s Badger High School metals class. He has come a long way since starting at NDSCS, improving much.
“I enjoy it. It’s hands on,” Jory said.
His professor at NDSCS, Clint Gilbertson, had actually taught in Badger for a period of time— before Jory’s time. Gilbertson was Jory’s main draw to go to NDSCS in the first place.
“He’s (Gilbertson’s) a pretty good mentor. He’s helped me through thick and thin,” Jory said. “… He’s my academic advisor too.”
As for the SkillsUSA state competition, Jory had to do four different welds, each with a time limit, one having a 30-minute time limit and the other three each an hour.
At this competition, Jory was judged on reading the blueprints, safety, and his actual welds, Tabitha explained.
“That’s how he won gold on the skills,” Tabitha said.
Besides earning this national trip, Jory also won a medal, a Lincoln Electric backpack, new welding helmets, a little book with ideas or projects for welding, and scholarships— $1,500 from NDSCS and $350 from the American Welding Society (AWS).
Jory doesn’t know what he’ll be doing at the national event, adding how it is all kept a surprise. He knows, based on looking at past competitions, that it will be more challenging— in terms of the welds. He will be doing it all against other state champions.
Despite the challenge, Jory looks forward to the opportunity.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity they were saying,” Jory said. “ I’ve heard there’s also a lot of job offers and people looking to hire me down there too.”
He added how, from his understanding, different companies will be down there with booths.
What would he think if he got a job offer down there?
“Pretty cool, yeah. Change of pace, I suppose,” Jory said.
For now, Jory has one more year left in his two-year program at NDSCS. Upon graduation, he would earn an Associate’s degree in Applied Science for Welding.
To see the complete story, read the May 18 issue of The Tribune in print or online.