Chance Pollo works on a welding project during the Nov. 14-21 WorldSkills Japan competition. Pollo ranked seventh in the competition.

Chance Pollo can call himself one of the best welders in the world.

The American Welding Society student came in seventh in the welding category during the 39th WorldSkills competition, Nov. 14-21 in Shizouka, Japan.

Representing the United States, Pollo went head-to-head with contestants from 26 other countries. Scoring 521 points out of a possible 600 - only 15 points shy of the top score - Pollo was honored with a Medallion of Excellence, an award given to competitors who score 500 points or more.

Top competitors from Canada, Korea and Japan, who scored 536, 535 and 534 points, respectively, took home gold medals. Silver and bronze medals were not awarded this year. In addition, Pollo was honored with a Best of Nation award for Team USA, given to the highest ranked performer on a team. Team USA was made up of six members, each of whom competed and were ranked in skills such as auto body repair, refrigeration and plumbing.

The WorldSkills welding competition tests the competitor’s ability to construct sheet metal projects in aluminum and stainless steel. Welds are judged on appearance and soundness by a series of nondestructive and destructive testing methods.

“We are very proud of Chance’s accomplishments at WorldSkills Japan,” said Ed Bohnart, chairman of the American Welding Society’s Skills Competition Committee, which helps to manage and raise funds for the several contests that lead up to the international competition. “Chance has battled through two years of very difficult local, regional and national competitions, such as the Ireland International Welding Contest in March 2007, in which he won first-place. All of his hard work paid off when he earned his title as the championship student welder for the USA at World Skills Japan. Chance is a prime example of a student with the talent and patience necessary to be a champion welder and we are proud to have him represent the USA.”

Over the next four years the AWS Foundation will provide Pollo with a $40,000 scholarship sponsored by the Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. Travel and related expenses associated with the Japan and Ireland trips were covered by the welding society, Miller Electric, the United Association of Plumber and Pipe Fitters Local 72, AWS Wyoming, and AWS District 20 Director Bill Komlos.