CHICAGO (CBS) – A group of high school welders are competing in a competition at Elgin Community College.

For many of the students participating, welding could be the path to a bright future.

“There’s kind of a spark under these kids, pun intended,” said Dave Reich, a Welding Instructor.

More than 30 budding welders are going head-to-head in the competition Thursday, competing to see who can combine metal the best.

Welding is joining metal with extreme heat and extreme force. Everyday items, including a car, building, cell phone, and chair all use welding to make the products.

Anthony Coriano, a high school junior, is among the competitors. He says while he’s still in highschool, he has out-of-this-world plans for the future.

“I did welding, tried it out, and fell in love with it,” says Coriano. “[I want to] be a welder for NASA, welding rovers and space crafts.”

Leela Edwards is the only girl in the competition.

“I’m a hands-on person,” says Edwards. “I want to be in the racing industry, building race cars.”

Edwards says she’s headed to a technical institute’s Nascar program in the fall.

Skilled workers are currently in high demand. Elgin Community College says local manufacturers are looking for welders.

Starting pay for welders ranges from $35-45,000 per year.

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