A 2014 Capital High School graduate was announced in early December as the winner of a national machining competition sponsored by Mastercam, a design and machining software company.
Wesley Mack won for the fly fishing rod and display case he built during his senior year.
“It was pretty exciting; we’ve been waiting to hear for it since June,” Mack said.
The Mastercam Wildest Parts Competition invites entries from any school in the nation that uses its software.
As the winner, Mack will receive $1,000, and his fly rod will be on display during Mastercam’s tours for the next year.
Mack built the rod as part of a class dedicated to creating fly rods that Capital High welding and machining teacher Jim Weber teaches. At the beginning of second semester, Mack decided he wanted to go above and beyond when building his fly rod, then enter it in the competition.
The result was a five-weight, 8-foot, 9-inch fly rod that breaks down into four pieces. Mack also built an accompanying wooden display case.
Mack bought the graphite blanks, hinges and guides for his rod. He made everything else himself, including the reel seat, cork handle and oak display box.
“On the rod itself, judges were particularly impressed with how smoothly the threaded pieces fit together. Many professional threads are not as smooth as these,” the press release announcing contest winners said.
The announcement also stated that judges were impressed by details that set Mack’s project apart, including a fish engraved on the handle and a fly etched on each of the case knobs.
Mack started taking classes from Weber during his sophomore year.
“He was a great student, very bright, really great work ethic, very fun to be around, very motivated,” Weber wrote in an email.
He added that Mack would do whatever it took to finish a project, even if the workload was daunting. Weber said Mack’s most notable strength may be his ability to deliver good work under pressure.
Weber also noted that Mack placed fourth at the SkillsUSA national CNC milling competition, which he said is the highest a Montana student has placed at the national SkillsUSA competition.
“He has a very bright future as a machinist/mechanical engineer type of career,” Weber said.
Mack recently finished his first semester of a two-year machining program at Helena College. He also works at Superior Sharpening and Machining in Helena, where he does “whatever needs to be done.”
After finishing the Helena College program Mack said he plans to attend Montana State University to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.
“I think it’s really cool just making stuff. It fascinates me seeing how stuff works and how it’s made,” he said.
Mastercam will send Mack his rod after one year of display, after which Mack said he’ll put it to good use during family float trips down the Smith River.
“I haven’t really done a whole lot of fly fishing, but I want to,” he said.