AWS Announces the Winner of the Take the Torch Campaign

Cunningham of North Carolina was announced as the AWS Take the Torch campaign winner. He won a custom AWS welding helmet.

AWS Publications | August 2, 2021 | AWS News and Calendar
Welding Digest ►  AWS Announces the Winner of the Take the Torch Campaign

Cunningham of North Carolina was announced as the AWS Take the Torch campaign winner. He won a custom AWS welding helmet.

Lead photo: Albert Cunningham proudly holds the custom welding helmet he won through AWS’s Take the Torch membership recruitment campaign.

In honor of National Welding Month, the American Welding Society (AWS) launched the Take the Torch membership recruitment campaign. For the month of April, those who registered to become new AWS members were entered into a drawing to win a custom AWS welding helmet.

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Those who registered to become new AWS members in April were entered into a chance to win the pictured AWS custom welding helmet.

 

Meet Campaign Winner Albert Cunningham

When Cunningham learned he had won the AWS Take the Torch custom welding helmet, he was surprised because he’d never won anything before. He admitted that the chance at winning the helmet gave him that extra push to become an AWS member. He had, however, been considering a membership for some time because he is interested in becoming an AWS Certified Welding Inspector.

The helmet will come in handy for Cunningham, who started a new job in May as an aluminum gas metal arc welder with Ziehl-Abegg Inc., Greensboro, N.C. The 111-year-old company is a manufacturer of ventilation, control, and drive technologies. Cunningham’s job at the company involves welding aluminum and steel fans, which he enjoys.

“I love it,” he said when asked about the job. “I like the manufacturing side of it and just the precision of the company that does the work.”

With more than 25 years in the welding industry, Cunningham previously worked as an aluminum welder for Environmental Air Systems from 2013 to 2021, a level I welder at Precor from 2010 to 2013, a leadman/welder at Metalcraft of Mayville from 2005 to 2009, and a gas tungsten/gas metal arc welder at Customer Industry from 1999 to 2003.

Cunningham has enjoyed a lucrative career in the welding industry thanks to the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, Pisgah Forest, N.C., where he received his training. The organization is a supporter of Job Corps, a U.S. Department of Labor program that provides free education and vocational training for young adults of low income.

He is also qualified in blueprint reading; gas metal arc welding on aluminum; and shielded metal, gas tungsten, and flux cored arc welding.

Despite his successful career, Cunningham confessed that he wasn’t initially on the right track. Prior to becoming a welder, he was a troubled youth and dropped out of two high schools. He described his upbringing as fatherless and surrounded by drugs and crime. He credits the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center for setting him on the path to success.

“I grew up in poverty and was a juvenile delinquent. I actually went to reform school,” he shared. “But I really wanted to be something, so I went to Job Corps, and that’s when things began to take a turn for me.”

The opportunity to attend the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center allowed Cunningham to explore something he had wanted for years — a career as a welder.

“I’ve always liked working with my hands, and I wanted to become a welder before going to Job Corps. Job Corps helped me develop that talent. Before that, I didn’t have anyone to invest in me, but at Job Corps, I met great people who helped point me in the right direction,” he explained. “Job Corps helped me get focused and tap into the talent I had. Ever since, it’s been up for me.”

Thankful for the guidance he received, Cunningham makes sure to pay it forward by doing the same for others. He volunteers in juvenile facilities and prisons in an effort to positively influence kids who are struggling the way he did. He encourages the young adults he meets to give Job Corps a try.

“I hope my success in the welding industry inspires young kids to explore the opportunities offered by Job Corps,” he affirmed.

He also makes sure to share his life motto with others whenever he can: “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

 

This article was written by Katie Pacheco (associate editor of the Welding Journal) for the American Welding Society.