Young Chinese man becomes chief technician under leading metallurgical corporation after forging himself in flames of the welding trade

(People's Daily Online) 14:03, July 12, 2022

A man from a poor rural family became the youngest chief technician to be employed by the China 19th Metallurgical Corporation (MCC19), thanks to his many years of unremitting efforts.

Zeng Zhengchao at work. (Photo/Xinhua)

Zeng Zhengchao was born in December 1995 in a mountainous area in Miyi county, Panzhihua city, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. After graduating from middle school, he learned welding skills at the Panzhihua Technician College, which is affiliated with the MCC19.

Starting off doing welding was a tough job. As a newbie, his eyes often felt very uncomfortable because of the welding arcs, and he felt the pain even more intensely at night when tears would often continuously stream from his eyes.

Many of his classmates were overwhelmed by the dangers and occupational hazards posed by welding. After just one day of regular operations, half of his more than 40 classmates gave up.

Zeng meanwhile also experienced painful welding burns, with the resulting marks etched onto his arms. The molten metal he works with even burned through his protective clothing, leading to skin burns.

However, being a tenacious man full of mettle and determination, Zeng decided to stick to his welding trade. “I had to endure skin burns because if my hands trembled when I was welding, blow holes would occur and the quality of welds couldn’t be guaranteed,” he said.

After two years of hard work, Zeng mastered various welding techniques and honed his skills. In 2014, Zeng got the opportunity to take part in the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

But when the international event kicked off in 2015, Zeng found that the specifications of the welding guns and other tools and materials designated for the welding competition were different from what he had been familiar with at home.

Zeng Zhengchao at work. (Photo/Xinhua)

“I likened welding to embroidery with a flame. A welder must accurately grasp the temperature, electric current and welding techniques. The devices for the competition were different from what I used, so it’s a big problem,” he said.

On the first day of the competition, Zeng got off on the wrong foot. His earned three B's in his welding tasks, which was a huge blow to him.

However, it was Zeng’s ability to remain calm under great stress that eventually paid off for him. He reassured himself after the initial setback and played the game of catch-up. On the second day, he received the highest score among all of the participating welding contestants.

On Aug. 16, 2015, Zeng finally won the gold medal in the welding competition at just 20 years old, the first to be awarded to a Chinese welder at the WorldSkills Competition.

Following his win, Zeng was awarded many honorary titles in China, including the 20th China Youth May 4th Medal, the country’s highest honor for young people, and model worker of Sichuan Province.

As a welder under the MCC19, Zeng continues to work on the frontline, taking part in various engineering projects.

He is also simultaneously serving as a welding instructor at Panzhihua Technician College. “I hope that more and more young people will get a sense of the value that skills can bring to skilled workers, and contribute their talent to enterprises,” Zeng said, adding that he will cultivate more highly-skilled workers and boost the image of “Made in China” products all over the world. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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