CNM Student Brings Home Gold Medal in Welding Sculpture at SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference
Scott Schneider (middle) at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference award ceremony after winning the gold medal for his welding sculpture. Photo Courtesy of SkillsUSA

CNM Student Brings Home Gold Medal in Welding Sculpture at SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

Scott Schneider’s uniquely New Mexican welding sculpture of a bugling elk on a rocky cliff captured hearts, and an end result “better than I ever could have imagined.”
June 28, 2023

When Scott Schneider left for Atlanta, Georgia last week for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, he had no idea what to expect as a Welding Sculpture competitor. That made his triumph all the more sublime.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I won gold at the national level,” Scott says. “It feels really good to come out on top and to represent New Mexico in this way. It also proves to me that all of my hard work was worth it."

Scott Schneider posing with his sculptureBack in April, Scott won his first gold medal for his exquisite 40-pound sculpture depicting a bugling elk on a rocky cliff surrounded by mountain and desert plants during the NewMexico SkillsUSA competition, which qualified him to compete at the national SkillsUSA Championships. 

At the national competition, Scott and his sculpture went through four rounds of judging, which included a welding test, a notebook review, a general sculpture review, and a one-on-one interview. 

“The interview was definitely the most intimidating part of the national competition,” Scott says. “You only get five minutes for the judges to ask you as many questions as possible, and it was really hard to explain my sculpture that took over 300 hours to create in just five minutes.”

Scott also really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with the hundreds of industry professionals that attended SkillsUSA’s TECHSPO, the nation’s largest technical trade show. 

“It was awesome to see so many companies attend the conference,” he says. “A lot of the welding companies had also seen my sculpture, which gave me a good jumping off point for making conversation and showcased my skills. I left with a much better idea of what kind of jobs are available.”

Along with the gold medal, Scott also won two welding machines that he says will take his home shop to the next level. 

With two gold medals and an overall great SkillsUSA experience under his belt, Scott has decided to take more classes at CNM so he can compete in the team welding or welding fabrication SkillsUSA competition next year. 

“I only have one semester left in the Welding program, and I thought I was ready to enter the workforce right after graduation,” Scott explains. “But after going to the conference and meeting so many people, seeing how many competitions are available, and of course winning, I want to compete again and test my skills in a new competition.” 

Looking back on his experience, Scott won’t hesitate to tell you the amount of work he put into the competition, but he will also be the first to tell you that the work was well worth it.

“I don’t regret any of the time I put into this sculpture or SkillsUSA,” he says. “I’m definitely glad I took a chance and decided to compete, and the end result is better than I ever could have imagined.”

Scott's gold-medal performance continues a very impressive SkillsUSA run for students in CNM's Welding program. Last year, three CNM students teamed up to win the national SkillsUSA gold medal in the Welding Fabrication Team competition. Another student won the bronze medal in the Individual Welding competition, and another placed fifth in the Welding Sculpture competition.