Port High welder headed to nationals

May 24 2014

Eli Schonewille is already the best student welder in the province.

And now, the Grade 11 Port Colborne High School student is preparing to take on the rest of the country.

Schonewille took first place in welding at a recent Ontario Technological Skills Competition at RIM Centre in Waterloo — a competition where the “best of all the regions meet, at the high school and college levels in each individual trade,” said his shop teacher Vic Barker.

Schonewille, 17, has spent about 200 hours in class and more than 200 hours on evenings and weekends developing his skill this year.

The national championships take place from June 4 to 7 in Toronto, pitting gold medalists from each province against one another for the honour of being the best in Canada.

“It covers everything from arc welding to MIG welding,” Barker said.

Schonewille said thinking about the competition ahead is “nerve racking,” but once he has a welder in his hand he won’t be worrying about the competition.

“Once you get in there and just focus on doing what you have to, the nerves go away eventually,” Schonewille said.

While Barker is confident Schonewille “is going to do well this year,” he said the student will have another opportunity to win gold when he returns for Grade 12 next year.

Barker won’t take all the credit for Schonewill’s success.

Despite teaching him, he said Schonewille “is a quick learner.”

“He grasps concepts really quickly. All I have to do is stand there and tweak it, look over his shoulder and give him suggestions. It’s all him.”

Schonewille, who plans to become a millwright, said he initially wanted to learn to be a mechanic like his uncle, but after being introduced to welding at Port High changed his mind about his career plans.

It’s the third time Port High welding students have competed at the Canadian championships.

The schools only first place win so far at the national level happened in 2011 when Dan Dressel won gold in Quebec City.

« Read More News