JOPLIN, Mo. — Sparks were flying today inside the “Advanced Training and Technology Center” in Joplin, but that was part of the plan.

The facility — and Crowder College — are hosting this year’s “Southwest District Skills USA Welding Fabrication Competition.”

Close to 40 high school and college students were involved.

Technical schools in Joplin, Nevada, Lamar, Neosho, and Reeds Spring were represented on the high school level, with Crowder and Ozark Technical College competing on the post-secondary level.

The competition featured smokers, built from start to finish.

Students had no idea what they’d be making coming in and received the plans Wednesday morning.

The goal – is to have the finished project professionally made.

“Not something that Grandma would want, but something that they would actually be able to sell. So the idea behind it, which we don’t sell ’em, but the idea would be that it’s built to a professional level. The judges that we have here are the individuals that work in industry, so they’re gonna be looking for dimensional accuracy, whether or not it’s built correctly, look, fit, finish, whether it has any burrs, things of that nature. Also looking for safety. Making sure there are no safety violations,” said Kent Pruitt, Welding Instructor.

Winners will advance to the state competition.