RIGBY — McKay Bird is a senior at Rigby High School. A welder, Bird entered his recently-completed project — a 23-foot tilt-deck trailer — into a national competition and won first prize.
McKay told EastIdahoNews.com he received word from the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation that his creation had been chosen as the best in the nation via a phone call. Then he got a congratulatory letter and a champion’s check for $1,000.
“It was very exciting. My family was pretty hyped about it, too,” Bird said. “I can use that money for, about, anything I want. I’ll probably use it for other welding stuff.”
One thing Bird will not need to put the check toward is the purchase of his own welder, according to his teacher, Lex Godfrey. As part of his winnings, Bird will receive a brand new arc welder from the foundation.
Bird was quick to thank Godfrey for the instruction and guidance he has offered throughout his time in the welding class and especially while making the trailer.
Bird said he got the idea for the project while helping his father with regular maintenance on a similar trailer owned by the family. He and his dad, Bird said, were fixing several issues when his father had a brilliant idea.
“It’s an OK-built trailer, but I felt like there was some things that I can do better,” Bird said of his father’s trailer. “My dad had the idea that it might be a good idea that I make one — then I could make some money and gain some skills.”
Bird said he spent around 80 hours constructing his trailer — with a few friends lending aid where they could.
“I feel a lot of pride (looking at the trailer) because, obviously, it took lots of hours and hard work that was put into that,” he said.
Bird entered the trailer into the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation High School Awards Program and won. He has since sold the trailer to a local farmer.
Bird plans on attending the College of Southern Idaho, but not until after he completes an LDS mission. He says he would love to go abroad for his mission, but would be happy anywhere — with one simple request: “Somewhere warm, hopefully.”
Asked if he sees welding and fabrication as potential career path or just as a hobby, Bird said he could “definitely” see himself working in the field in his future.
“I think that’s my plan so far,” he said, “and obviously getting this award and all of this recognition, I feel like that will help me towards my goals.”