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National Welding League


The Challenge

Our country is facing a near-crisis situation in workforce capability and capacity. The negative perceptions around trade careers in manufacturing — from job image to earning potential — have resulted in a rapid decline in US manufacturing workforce and productivity. This decline not only threatens our economic prosperity but poses a real threat to our national security.


The Industrial Base and Sustainment (IBAS) program, headed by the US Department of Defense, has defined and initiated a National Workforce Imperative to urgently and dramatically address this near-crisis situation. IBAS – working in partnership with prominent government, industry trade organizations, manufacturers, educational institutions, educators, and community leaders – is building and driving a movement to help solve this critical Workforce Gap. 


Project MFGTM is an organization dedicated to elevating the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals by changing mindsets, fostering community involvement and providing a pathway to teaching the critical skills needed to succeed in modern advanced manufacturing. Through a skills based competition series designed to inspire “moments that spark a movement” and restore America’s industrial base, Project MFG competitions demonstrate problem-solving abilities and technological aptitudes needed to build the next generation of skilled machinists, welders, programmers, mechanics, and fabricators. 


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The focus of Project MFG’s competition series is to assess and build up the Nation’s workforce training capabilities. Specifically, this competition assesses the welding trades, which are immediately needed to address shortages in the U.S. Ship Building Industry as well as Manufacturing.


The purpose of this playbook is to provide the participants and their instructors with the information needed to successfully complete the competition. 

The Competition framework

National Welding League Series Framework

The Project MFG National Welding League (NWL) is a welding-focused student competition that is comprised of 2 rounds of qualifying competitions and ending in an in-person National Championship.  

Qualifying rounds of competition are hosted remotely at the student’s school or home institution and facilitated by their instructor, who acts as an “Honest Broker” ensuring competitive fairness. The competition project kits are shipped to the student’s school or host institution. Competition documentation and management is handled on the Project MFG Compete Platform online.  

Once competitors receive their project material, they will then complete their project according to the Technical Data Package (TDP) consisting of drawings, Weld Procedure Sheets (WPS), and any supplemental instructions indicated in the Project MFG Compete Platform. Note that the scoring process requires submission of a short video, project photographs (both in-process and complete), self-assessments, instructor verification and sign off. All submittals are managed through the Project MFG Compete Platform online. Additionally, all completed projects should be retained by the student or school until the completion of the National Competition in case additional photographs or physical examination of the project is required for further scoring validation.


Competitors must adhere to the safety requirements of their respective school or location. A list of the minimum safety requirements is provided below. Should any safety questions arise or issues encountered, stop work and seek further guidance from your instructor, site supervisor, or competition coordinator.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Appropriate shop attire and PPE must be worn by all competition participants, as well as, anyone on the shop floor. This includes closed-toe shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants.
  • Wrist, hand jewelry, and any loose neck jewelry or loose clothing are not allowed.
  • Long hair must be adequately restrained around rotating machinery.
  • Safety glasses must be worn at all times.
  • Protective footwear must be worn at all times and must meet the host site safety requirements.
  • Hearing protection and a face shield must be worn when using offhand grinding machines or angle grinders.
  • Protective clothing, safety glasses, and protective footwear must be worn at all times in the competition area or any area where machine tools are present.
  • Any person not properly equipped with PPE may not enter the competition area. They must move to designated public areas and are not permitted to enter the competition area.

Working Areas:

  • All offhand grinding must be done in the welding bays with the shields closed.
  • Welding gloves and a welding helmet must be worn when welding in the welding bay.
  • When welding, the welding bay must be fully closed.
  • Anyone in the welding bay must wear a welding helmet during welding except for filming crews if suitable protection is utilized.
  • When grinding, suitable PPE must be worn. At a minimum, gloves and face/eye protection must be worn.
  • Anyone not equipped with the proper PPE may not enter the facility and are not permitted to enter the competition area.


  • The floor and passages must be kept free of unnecessary clutter, wires, and trash.

Chemical Substances:

  • Appropriate PPE must be worn when handling any chemical substances.
  • Safe handling instructions must be provided for all substances used. 
  • All Competitors, Sponsors, and Judges must understand and follow these instructions when using chemical substances.
  • The host site will provide their own Facility Health and Safety Requirements documentation to Competitors as requested. 

Competition Rules

General Rules:

  • To participate, each Competitor must complete the required waivers and releases. 
  • Scores are calculated based on the scoring scheme outlined in this document with specific details provided at the competition.
  • Competitors are to be ranked on competition performance from best performance (highest overall score) to worst performance (lowest overall score).
  • Instructors are not allowed to interact with the competitors during the competition. This includes going into the competition areas as well as advising on the competition project while the competition is in progress.
  • Project MFG leadership reserves the right to remove anyone from the competition for, but not limited to, unprofessional behavior, cheating, etc. 
  • Project MFG leadership reserves the right to alter events and/or rules prior to, or during the competition and makes best efforts to notify all members of any changes.

Competitor Requirements:

  • Each competition has technically qualified individuals.
  • There is no age requirement.
  • Current students of a trade training program or high school  


  • If a Competitor is determined to be using unsafe practices that could cause harm to themselves, others, or the equipment, they may be disqualified.
  • Violation of any rule may result in disqualification from the competition.

Project MFG reserves final authority for all rulings and rules interpretations.

Materials and Equipment

Project MFG will provide each competitor with one kit.  

  • Competitors or schools are not allowed to copy and fabricate their own kits. 
  • Schools or individuals discovered to be breaking this rule will be disqualified from the competition.
  • For Qualifying Rounds, Schools/Competitors/Host Sites will provide consumables and the necessary equipment to properly and safely fabricate the projects.

Performance Evaluation

Project MFG competitions are industry recognized skills assessments and certifications. Preparing for and competing in these competitions provide practical experience that help competitors succeed in trade industry jobs. 

Welding projects will be evaluated using the Standards Reference: AWS D1.1, 1.2, 1.3 & 1.6 guidelines.

The assessment of knowledge, skills, and abilities are primarily judged by the execution of a complete project. Oral reviews may be included in the competition to demonstrate an understanding of the Weld Process Sheets and the ability to read manufacturing drawings.  Self-assessments will also be used to determine the competitor’s ability to properly evaluate a completed weld.

Scoring Scheme:

The scoring scheme ties the competition project assessment to industry standards. Competitors earn points on their project based on their performance against the project requirements. Each competition round (project) is scored individually.

Objective Features:

Objective features scoring will use a zero or maximum of 4 score for each measurable attribute identified in the project.


0 = Non-Attempt, out of tolerance, non-compliant

4 = Max in compliance, within tolerance

Subjective Features: 

Subjective feature scoring uses the 10-point scale below. 


 0 = Non-Attempt

1 = Well outside of tolerance

2 = Just outside of tolerance

3 = Good and within tolerance

4 = Excellence

Competition Scoring:

A panel of judges will evaluate each competitor’s project against the project requirements.  Judges are consistent for all teams and/or individuals competing.

Project MFG reserves final authority for all rulings and rules interpretations.

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