3rd ANNUAL SPARK YOUNG MINDS GRANT PROGRAM

Applications are in the review process.

For 2023, we partnered with Lincoln Electric and MCR Safety to offer this amazing package.

Three (3) high schools will be awarded:
  •  One (1) POWER MIG® 215 MPi™ Multi-Process Welder
  •  One (1) VIKING™ 3350 Welding Helmet
  • Twelve (12) MCR Safety Blue Beast® Leather Welding Work Gloves
  • Twelve (12) MCR Safety Premium Grain Pigskin MIG/TIG Welding Gloves
  • Twelve (12) Law® LW2 Series Safety Glasses with Green Filter Shade 3.0

Deadline to Apply: Friday, September 29, 2023

DID YOU KNOW?   AWS (American Welding Society) now offers students a free membership. For more details and to apply, visit https://www.aws.org/membership/student

Spark Young Minds Program Details

Who is eligible to apply?
All high schools in the MWSCO service area.

Does the high school need to have an existing welding program?
No, the school does not need to have a current program but the equipment must be used for educational purposes and may not be used for maintenance of school property.

Will preference be given to schools with existing welding programs?
No, in fact, we would encourage schools with very small or no existing welding programs to apply for the equipment grant.  We would enjoy seeing a welding program at every high school in our service area.

How does the school apply?
A representative from the high school must complete the online application by the deadline. Apply online at www.mwsco.com/SparkYoungMinds

Is this a cash grant award or an equipment grant award?
This is an equipment grant award.  MWSCO will award up to 3 high schools in our service area with welding supplies and equipment that will help them start or add to their welding program.

What type of equipment will be awarded?
The type of equipment will vary each year and will be noted on the grant application.  It could include welding power sources, plasma cutters, oxy-fuel equipment and PPE supplies such as helmets or clothing.  

Who decides which schools will be awarded this grant?
A small group of MWSCO leaders will make this decision.

How will the winner be notified if they have been awarded the grant?
A MWSCO sales professional will be in contact with the award winners to coordinate delivery of the equipment.

When will the winner of the grant be notified?
Approximately 30 days after the grant deadline.

Past Receipients

2021 Annual Spark Young Minds Winners

SPARK YOUNG MINDS 2021 GRANT RECIPIENTS

December 13, 2021

(Winona, MN) Mississippi Welders Supply Co. (MWSCO) believes that everyone interested in welding and metal fabrication should have the opportunity to learn. The Spark Young Minds grant program was developed to help support our community educators who inspire young students through hands-on programs. This year, in partnership with Miller Electric, MWSCO was able to award three High Schools with a Millermatic 211 MIG welder with running gear, a Miller F-Series ArcStation Workstation table, 125 cu/ft Argon/CO2 Gas Cylinder, Digital Performance welding helmets, and Indura cloth welding jackets. We received 53 applications and the MWSCO team found it challenging to choose only three recipients when so many High Schools have expressed their need to replace old equipment or require additional equipment to meet growing interest, when funding for their welding program is limited. The first annual 2021 Spark Young Minds recipients are all from Wisconsin: Cameron High School, Greenwood High School, and Spring Valley High School.

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Cameron High School

With about 20-30 students in the program and only two MIG welders in the lab, it can be a challenge to make time for each student to spend quality time working on projects. Like many schools, budgets are tight so Jay Cornell, TechEd, Aviation, CAD Teacher, shared his ideas for turning an interest in career-centered classes and what this new equipment will do for the program. “We will be using the welder to practice MIG welding basics as well as incorporating it into our projects, which include a fire ring,” says Mr. Cornell. “We are just getting started in the lab portion of our 2nd trimester welding class. My TA has the machine set up and ready to go!”

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Greenwood High School

For Greenwood, they have seen an increase in students interested in their welding program. Being awarded a new MIG welding machine has allowed them to add an additional welding booth to comfortably accommodate more students. And with the addition of a cart, this mobile station allows for welding in different places of the shop, expanding even more possibilities with different types of projects. Noah Werner, Technology Education Teacher, says, “Students are using the new equipment to complete welds for their dual credit welding course with Chippewa Valley Technical College. Students have the chance to earn college credit while in high school and the equipment is being used in that course. Students will also be working on a custom CNC plasma cut design. They will use the equipment to finish assembly of that design.”

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Spring Valley High School

There were two teachers from Spring Valley High School that applied for this grant. Both will use this new MIG welder package. For Jon Stimmel, Technology Education Teacher, this is his first-year teaching tech ed. His goal is to create a safe woods and metals shop for his students and this new equipment is a great start. Mr. Stimmel says, “We are loving the new welder! Our main problem with the machine is figuring out who gets to use it next :). My current class is Welding 1, so it is an intro class. Students are currently learning how to do all of the main welds on MIG and Stick: butt joint, T weld, lap joints, and welding around a pipe.” Grace Anderson teaches the metal fabrication class in which students get to choose and plan their own projects. “We are enjoying the new welder and PPE very much. It always seems like a contest of who can get to the new welder the fastest to use it! A couple examples of projects that kids are working on are a fish tank stand for our classroom and some stools for their shops at home,” says Ms. Anderson.

Chris Wierschke, Commercial District Manager for Miller Electric, was able to join Steve Lundborg, MWSCO Hudson Store Manager, and David Becker, Sales Representative for MWSCO, to present the new equipment to the Spring Valley High School students. The teachers asked us to give the students some perspective on career opportunities in welding. Chris has this to share about that discussion, “As each of us took turns telling our story, I realized that every one of us took different paths into the welding world. As students navigate high school, there is excitement and anxiety about what the working world will bring. I really wanted the students to take away three key things: (1) In life, there is very rarely one clearly defined road to success, (2) feeling uncomfortable leads to growth, and (3) inactivity will hold you back.”

MWSCO sees a bright future ahead for the industry and a great opportunity for the up-and-coming workforce to secure their career path within the world of technology, engineering, manufacturing, and industrial sciences. We look forward to continuing and growing the Spark Young Minds grant program in partnership with the industry’s best manufacturers of welding and metal fabrication equipment. Stay tuned for announcements on future grant programs by joining our newsletter or following us on your favorite social media network.

2022 Annual Spark Young Minds Winners

SPARK YOUNG MINDS 2022 GRANT RECIPIENTS

December 20, 2022

(Winona, MN) The MWSCO Spark Young Minds 2nd annual grant program was in partnership with Hypertherm, a leading manufacturer of plasma cutting solutions. This year, we awarded a Hypertherm plasma cutting system package to three high schools in our service area. MWSCO believes that everyone interested in welding and metal fabrication should have the opportunity to learn and what better place to start than while kids are at school. The Spark Young Minds grant program was developed to help support our community educators who inspire young students through hands-on programs.

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Glenwood City High School

Miss Kirsten Konder, Agriculture Teacher at Glenwood High School says, “The Glenwood City tech ed department is growing at a rapid rate, having our class numbers rise exponentially. At the current moment, we are offering welding 1, advanced welding (which is advanced standing through Northwood Technical College), construction, woodworking, small engines, and restoration courses.”

As the numbers are increasing in all these courses, the need for new equipment is more than ever. Their current plasma cutting machine does not always work and is very unreliable.

“Having been awarded this new Hypertherm plasma cutting machine, the opportunities for new and engaging projects are endless for our students in Glenwood City.” Says Miss Konder.

One key lesson that Miss Konder includes in all her classes is a sense of community service and giving back to the town and area that they live. Students reach out to nonprofit organizations within the Glenwood City area to complete projects to make the town an overall better place.

Miss Konder adds, “Our students care about their community. With making the bridge between tech ed and Glenwood City, we can teach our students skills that will go way beyond the walls of our high school.”

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Boyceville High School

"When people hear Boyceville, they think of a typical rural town in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. One brand new stop light, which the locals deemed unnecessary and excessive, train tracks through the middle of town, an ethanol plant, Andy Pafko, cows, tractors, rolling hills, and a school district with a coveted state baseball title. The people here are proud! As a non-native Boyceville resident, I can see why community members feel the way they do about this place. Everyone told me that I had "big shoes to fill" regarding my position of agriculture teacher and FFA advisor when I moved to town. As coworkers and other townies began to fill me in about my predecessor, I began to understand what they meant. The teacher I replaced taught in the district for over 30 years. He began his career at Boyceville promptly after finishing college and the ag program flourished! Auto mechanics, welding, construction, feeds and feeding, vet science, crop science; the list goes on, not to mention all the awards they accumulated at FFA events. Over time, fewer students became interested in the trades and class numbers dwindled. I heard from a few community members that there were even thoughts of cutting the ag shop program completely. But anyone who knows the good ol' boys of Boyceville, knows that that would never happen.

When I stepped into my classroom and shop for the first time a year ago, my mind went to "what a bunch of junk" and "I have a lot of work to do". As it turns out, a shop full of old junk has a lot of potential. The part where I thought "I have a lot of work to do" still holds true today, a year later. Welding is a course that I began teaching at my last school, and it quickly became a passion. I never took a welding course when I was in high school, so learning as an adult was intimidating to say the least. It is now my favorite course to teach! Watching my kids learn a new skill for the first time and seeing them succeed is the best thing ever! The only thing is our lack of safe, working equipment.

Safety is key in any shop. Currently, I have four stick welders that are as old as dinosaurs, and only two of them are in working condition, however we cannot adjust amps of volts. The other two start on fire internally, which is obviously a problem. We also have a severe shortage PPE such as welding helmets, gloves, jackets, and shoe covers. Our welding area is also severely lacking in a good ventilation system, efficient lighting, and shade curtains. The block walls around each welding booth are way too short and I'm concerned about my students being flashed by their peers on accident.

This program has a record number of students in it this year, and only one section of welding is offered! It's clear that there are students who care about the trades and are eager to learn. This grant would be a good start to help make our program at Boyceville successful again! Just like the good old days. Our students deserve quality programming in every aspect of schooling. My goal with the welding program at Boyceville is to eventually be able to have kids leave with some kind of certification and get a plasma table to start a school-based enterprise so students are able to have a Supervised Agricultural Experience for FFA without having to worry about completing it outside of school. It is my job to ensure my students' success, and I am grateful for this opportunity for a fresh start!" Jenna Behrends, Ag Teacher/FFA Advisor for Boyceville High School.

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Abbotsford Middle/Senior High School

Abbotsford High School currently does not have plasma cutting available in the metal fabrication program. Budgets are tight and any supplies and equipment which could be implemented are extremely beneficial.

Randall Pempek, Technology Educator, was thrilled to have received the news that they were one of three schools to have earned the MWSCO Spark Young Minds grant.

“With this new equipment, we will be teaching valuable skills while saving instructor time which could be used in lesson planning”, says Randall Pempek.

Jillian Tyler, Weld Instructor mentions, “Now that we have this Hypertherm plasma cutting system, I will be incorporating a plasma cutting section with our oxy/acetylene cutting unit, having students cut through a variety of materials and thicknesses of materials.”

Jillian Tyler is a new weld instructor, and she is excited to learn and teach using this new equipment and will be incorporating into the curriculum, projects for students to cut, prep, and weld their own fabricated materials.

The School District of Abbotsford has graduated many welding students who were hired immediately by local manufacturing firms in the Abbotsford area.

MWSCO looks forward to continuing the Spark Young Minds grant program in partnership with the industry’s best manufacturers of welding and metal fabrication equipment. Stay tuned for announcements on future grant programs by joining our newsletter at the footer of this website, or following us on your favorite social media network.