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(Milton, WI) Hillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News

Blackhawk Technical College’s Advanced Manufacturing Center was full of smiles on Friday as six teams of high school students competed in “Junkyard Wars.”

Beloit Turner, Edgerton, Evansville, Janesville Craig, Janesville Parker and Milton students all were greeted by piles of junk including farm implements, car parts, flea market finds and more. During a sixth-month period Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) instructors rounded up a total of five dumpsters full of scraps for the big day. Students were then told they had three hours to try to create art. “Junkyard Wars” was based on a cable television program of the same name.

Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) supplied the welding and fabrication equipment, and one welding student per team to assist the high school welders with more complex equipment.

BTC welding instructors Mark Prosser and Jeremiah Johnson said "Junkyard Wars" was a great recruitment tool. Although the high school students are currently enrolled in metals classes at their high schools, they said it was a great way to learn what BTC has to offer while delving into the creative side of welding.

“It’s very exciting. We love getting area high school students in and experimenting in all our programs. It’s definitely a new way to think about welding as producing art,” said BTC Vice President of Learning Diane Nyhammer.

Turner High School students Reed Farr, Nick Skokut, Mark Zamora and Anthony Babcock explained how they were creating a “giving tree.” They used a large pipe as the trunk, vehicle springs as leaves and cam drive rods as the branches. They had even found a metal swing to suspend from their tree. Reed Farr said the team was working well together and having a lot of fun. They plan to take their creation back to their high school to show it off.

Mitchel Delabarre, a former Turner student who is currently attending BTC, was at the event to advise the Turner students on safety.

“Santa needs his helpers,” Delabarre said.

Although artistic expression was important, he said winners always get points for adhering to safety rules.

Turner student Reed Farr said coming to BTC was a great opportunity. He said he loves welding and dreams of opening his own welding shop one day after studying business management.

“I love being able to fuse metal together and the workmanship,” Reed Farr said.

Delabarre said being in the welding shop was like home to him, and the skill he gained there was something he wanted to share with younger Turner students.

Beloit Turner teacher Nolan Otremba said the students were thrilled to use their creativity as opposed to learning in the classroom. At Turner, he said, there is no shortage of students interested in welding. He noted his metals 1 and metals 2 classes are full.

The team from Milton won the contest, with their creation of a motorcycle. Beloit Welder’s Supply gave each member of the winning team a $125 gift certificate. All participants in Friday’s event also received a $15 gift certificate from Tractor Supply Co. from the American Welding Society.

Blackhawk Technical College is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System. BTC has five campus locations in Monroe, Milton, Beloit and Janesville offering more than 50 programs including two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas.

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