Eli Schonewille made sparks fly at last week’s Skills Ontario welding competition.
The grade 12 Port Colborne High School student left the May 5 competition with a gold medal, his second win for the all-Ontario contest.
The contest was to build a small structure based on a blueprint given at the start. The students had six hours to interpret the drawing and weld it into place.
“It was good. I like doing it, like reading blueprints and stuff, I find it interesting, a challenge,” said Schonewille.
He and his teacher, Vic Barker, estimate that Schonewille has logged around 500 hours of practice since September.
“Going into the competition I felt really prepared for it and I knew what I was going to be doing,” said Schonewille.
Barker said that drive makes Schonewille easy to coach.
“I’m very proud of him, he’s very coach-able, not afraid to put the hours in,” said Barker, “Since he started welding in grade 9 he probably has 2000-3000 hours of practising and welding.”
Schonewille is currently on a co-op term at school and spends half of his day at his placement at Barber Hymac Hydro Inc. He enjoys working and getting the experience. He’s hoping to do either a linesman or millwright apprenticeship when he graduates.
“I like to build stuff, I like reading blueprints and building a project and all the different welds on it is a challenge right to make everything completely perfect,” he said, “Vic has taught me a lot and being at my co-op placement has helped me a lot.”
Last week’s win has qualified Shonewille to compete at the Skills Canada competition at the end of the month, where he will be defending a gold medal win from last year.
Schonewille and Barker are now busy getting ready for Skills Canada, which will be hosted in Saskatoon, Sask. on May 25.