More than 150 high school students put their vocational skills on the line at college Thursday.
They took part in the "Skills USA" competition at the Jackson County campus of Gulf Coast Community College.
Future masons built foundations of learning. But the brick walls won't divide the students, they'll test their skills.
Brandon Kelly is a participant from Harrison Central High School.
"We're showing off our skills and doing different bonds and patterns. And we have judges that are watching as we do it to make sure we're using the correct technique and all of that," he explained.
Kenneth Hutcherson doesn't worry about leveling the competition. His finished product will prove his skills.
"The ability to be able to lay them. Knowing what we're doing. A good quality product at the end," said the Ocean Springs student.
Sparks flew among the aspiring welders. Those who practice on metal plates today, could well be building the next generation of war ships for Northrup Grumman.
"They're competing in the individual skills competition and they get to see our shops one on one. And see what we have to offer. And it's a great opportunity, especially with the business and industry partnership we have," said Joe Tillson from Gulf Coast Community College.
Will Esteve is helped judge the automotive technology competition.
"They're all going to be mechanics. And this breaks the competition down into nine components and we're hitting them hard on each of the components," he said.
An important part of the automotive competition involves diagnostic testing. In other words, finding out what's wrong with your car. And with today's ever changing technology, that can be the biggest challenge.
The immediate challenge was to find and fix the problem fastest.
"I think it's great. It gives us a chance to see what we know and go on and compete at different levels," said Matthew Lindsey, a student at Ocean Springs High School.
Students with the highest scores advance to state competition next month in Ellisville.