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Tech senior wins national welding award

Submitted Photo 
Franklin County Technical School senior Gabriel Stafford with his prize-winning, and practical, welding project.

Submitted Photo Franklin County Technical School senior Gabriel Stafford with his prize-winning, and practical, welding project.

TURNERS FALLS — A storage rack for small diameter steel stock may not be glamorous, but it is functional, and its design and construction won Franklin County Technical School student Gabriel Stafford the regional gold award from a national foundation.

Stafford, of Greenfield, won the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation’s Regional Gold Award in the 2013 Division I Student Arc Welding Program. In practical terms, that meant $500 in cash and a Lincoln 140 MIG Welder worth $700 to $800.

A senior in the Franklin County Technical School welding and metal fabrication program, Stafford said he was surprised and pleased.

“It was pretty great when I heard that I won the award,” he said. “I thought I had a chance to win something, but I didn’t expect to get gold. To see the project go from pieces of steel to a rack that can stand up and hold stock is pretty cool.”

Stafford’s entry won regional gold in a region covering Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Stafford chose to build the rack because he wanted to construct something that could be used in the shop. He had assistance from fellow student Graham Lowery-Hsu.

Stafford started working on the project last October and finished in June, working on the rack in between other projects in the program.

FCTS welding and metal fabrication instructor David Morgan, who suggested Stafford submit the project for the contest, said the award is prestigious and requires a large amount of research and analysis, along with construction. Stafford had to write about and photograph every step in the process.

The three-foot-tall, two-foot-wide and 11-foot-long rack, weighing around 750 pounds, will remain in the shop as the new metals rack in an upgraded inventory system.

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation was created in 1936 and is the only organization in the United States solely dedicated to educating the public about the art and science of arc welding, according to the foundation’s website, publishing educational texts and granting cash awards to recognize technical achievements.

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