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BCC welding student is best in the nation

savannah schmidt sitting on floor near welding equipment

Bladen Community College welding student Savannah Schmidt has won national recognition with a gold medal at the SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Kentucky.


“I felt confident going in to the competition,” stated Schmidt. “This is the first gold medal for BCC.”


Schmidt’s instructor and mentor, Edward Dent, knew she could do it. “Savannah has a natural talent and an amazing drive,” he said. “She was the one who could bring home a gold medal.”


The welding program at Bladen Community College has competed in SkillsUSA for over twenty years, capturing many medals and places. But the gold medal has always been elusive, until now.


“Last year, Savannah won second place in the nation and on that day she set a goal to bring home a gold medal this year,” remarked Dent. “She accomplished her goal of achieving 1st place in the nation and bringing home the gold.”


“I was so glad I could give this win to Mr. Dent,” explained Schmidt. “He had the mindset even before we traveled to Kentucky. He told everyone we were ‘bringing home the gold’ this year!”


SkillsUSA is the world’s largest showcase of skilled trades. With more than 17,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions, this was the largest SkillsUSA event in its history.


The competition is for public high school and college/postsecondary students enrolled in career and technical education programs. SkillsUSA has a nationwide membership of over 300,000 students and showcases 100 hands-on skill and leadership contests, representing 130 different occupational areas.


Schmidt competed in the Job Skills Demo “A” category. In her presentation, Schmidt described and demonstrated how a guided bend test device is used to test coupons cut from carbon steel pipe that Schmidt had welded.


“My presentation was about the guided bend testing device,” commented Schmidt. “I followed the guidelines in the ASME Code Book, section 9.”


During her presentation, Schmidt introduced a new device of her own creation that could revolutionize the industry. She has acquired a trademark on the invention and is applying for a patent.


“After the competition was over,” she described, “one of the judges congratulated me and gave me his business card. He said he wanted to know when my invention was available on the market!”


Schmidt said her family watched a live stream broadcast of her presentation while she was in Kentucky. “My young son was so excited,” she remarked.


Now working as a welder in a local industry, Schmidt hopes to return to school to become a Certified Welding Instructor. She accepts commissions for art sculptures and plans to serve SkillsUSA as a regional judge. She credits the BCC welding department for her success.


“When I started at BCC, I took two welding classes as fillers for my schedule. I loved the welding classes! The instructors are genuinely committed to your success. Mr. Dent was like a personal coach, always pushing me to strive higher,” shared Schmidt.


“I am so thankful for this opportunity. Bladen Community College and SkillsUSA have changed my life.”


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