ALAMOSA — “If you’re going to do something, you might as well do something you enjoy,” said Cory Prevatte, 19, a welding student at Trinidad State in Alamosa.
He’s following in his boss’s footsteps and creating art forms using propane tanks. He took welding classes at the Alamosa campus during his senior year at Monte Vista High School.
“Welding is something that has always interested me,” he said. “And I know there’s a lot of (welding) opportunity out there: mufflers, body work, oil rigs, pipe lines, construction…”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for welders is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2020 which means welding is one of the fastest growing professions in America. Higher than average starting pay and good benefits are attracting more people to welding.
“My boss, Cory Curtis, builds a lot of fabrication stuff, and that’s what I like. I don’t like doing the same thing over and over,” said Prevatte.
Norm Williams, his welding instructor at Trinidad State, said Prevatte would rather be out creating something than staying in a welding booth. He created a unique hitch for his pick-up which is a design from “a finger below the waist game” or “The Circle Game.” A hand with the thumb and index finger touching to form a circle is indicative of this game and that’s what his hitch looks like.
Prevatte also built a heavy-duty bumper for his pick-up. Last year, when the two cars used in a mock accident at Monte Vista high School were not positioned close enough together to mimic a T-bone crash, Prevatte used his pickup with the custom bumper to ram one car into the other. Mock accidents are often staged prior to prom to illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving. Valley schools coordinate with local fire departments, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement to make the incident as realistic as possible.
Recently, Prevatte drove around for several weeks with a sphere his boss created secured in the bed of his pickup. “We get a lot of hits on it. I stopped at Safeway and two chicks asked me about it and every time I stop at a gas station somebody asks about it,” he said.
He described the process of using propane tanks to create metal spheres and rings. He intends to create a sphere this semester as soon as he locates a propane tank he can use. Prevatte uses a torch to cut the ends or caps off the propane tank. These are then welded together to form a ball shape. Additional welding is done for stability. Grinding and sandblasting smooth the welds. A design is then projected onto the ball, carefully traced with a sharpie and then cut out with a plasma cutter. The ball is attached to a base for stabilization and is most often used as a fire pit. The middle of the propane tank is used to create decorative rings which are often used as fire pit surrounds.
After graduation in May, Prevatte may have a chance to work on a navy ship as a welder in Chula Vista, California, where his brother and sister-in-law are stationed. He also knows an older local welder who plans to retire soon, and he may have the opportunity to take over that business. His preference is to stay in the Valley because he has started riding bulls and he wants to continue doing that too. That influence also comes from his boss who has a riding arena at his home and whose bull-riding son, Cordell Curtis, has made a big impression on Prevatte.
“I’m an outdoors kind of guy,” he said. “I also like to fish and ride dirt bikes and four-wheelers.”
“Cory is always busy,” remarked Williams, who has 21 students registered this semester. “Even in high school this kid was always wanting to build something. What effort he puts in to it (welding) will be how far it goes. He’s a good kid.”
To learn about the welding program at Trinidad State, call Jack Wiley at 719-589-7064 or Ellen Hanson at 719-589-7001 or leave a message for Norm Williams at 719-589-7062.
This unique trailer hitch that Prevatte created was inspired by the “finger below the waist game” or “The Circle Game.”
Using a method developed by his boss, Cory Curtis, Prevatte cut this metal ring from the middle of a propane tank and then created this attractive firepit surround.