Esab Welding & Cutting Products is launching three initiatives to support students and schools focused on careers in skilled trades and manufacturing. 

The first initiative is the Paley-James Project, a collaboration between Jesse James of motorcycle-themed brand West Coast Choppers and world-renowned sculpture artist Albert Paley. Esab is the exclusive equipment sponsor for the project, which requires James and Paley to start one sculpture, but finish the other. The finished works are to be unveiled Nov. 6 at Fabtech and auctioned two weeks later. Proceeds from the auction will support grants, scholarships and educational opportunities created by Fabtech co-sponsors, including the American Welding Society, Chemical Coaters Association International, Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Precision Metal Forming Association and SME.

“Metal working processes require a multitude of skills and disciplines. However, when most people look at fabricated objects, they have no concept of the processes required to create that object,” Paley said. “Once of the reasons I agreed to participated in the Paley-James Project is that it would enable us to introduce more people to the myriad of career opportunities available within the field.”

Esab has also announced its WeldItForward student and school contest, which offers equipment, filler metal and cash prizes with a total retail value exceeding $97,000. The contest requires an essay and a fabricated metal project. Schools in the United States and Canada can submit entries to the contest through Oct. 9. Winning schools will be announced during a Facebook Live broadcast at Fabtech Nov. 7.

Contest rules and details are available at, a new website created by Esab that also includes news on the Paley-James Project as well as scholarship, grant and career information Esab and Fabtech’s co-sponsors.

“The Metal Mentors website is a single, collaborative content destination from six organizations that pay it forward to the next generation. The site links to financial, educational and informational resources,” said Shyam Kambeyanda, president of Esab. “By working together, we create greater possibilities for supporting the skilled trades, and manufacturing and engineering careers targeting secondary and post-secondary students in technical education, manufacturing and engineering programs.”