Five Cuesta College welding students took home first, second, and third place awards recently at the 2016 Welders Without Borders: Welding Thunder, a portable welding competition in Las Vegas, NV, designed to allow instructors and students to work together and showcase their skills in a fun and competitive manner. The competitors included five college teams and 10 high school teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada.

This was Cuesta’s fourth time participating in the competition, and this year the team won first place in theme, two second place awards in build and people’s choice, and third place in the cook-off portion of the competition. The Cuesta College student competitors included Kyler Forbes, Ben Grant, Sal Fonseca, Michael Dye, and Carter Kohlbush.

The competition took place November 15-19 and consisted of building a customized griddle grill Bar-B-Que, requiring each team to build according to a required set of plans and then allowing for a secret compartment to be added. The competition concluded with the team members cooking a meal on their projects.

“The teams were required to bring all their metals and building materials, and were judged by their blueprints, quality of craftsmanship, safety, team work, and the special ingredient components,” said Cuesta College Welding Instructor Mike Fontes. “This contest took an incredible amount of time, preparation and commitment from our students.”

The Cuesta College team worked together with a team of Paso Robles High School student welders for months prior to the competition, practicing skills while building a trailer capable of carting the fabricated BBQs back from Las Vegas.

“Cuesta’s welding students continue to prove year after year to be the best of the best,” said Fontes. “Welding Thunder is a way for us to collaborate with local high schools and work side-by-side while learning from each other. And it provides a great pathway for welders to enter the industry.”

The team from Paso Robles High School took home various top honors as well. According to Fontes, local sponsors included Paso Robles Welding, Linson Signs, and Margarita Fabrication. Welding Thunder began in Arizona in 2012. For more information, please contact Mike Fontes at