PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Local welding students got to show off their hard work at Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s shipyard Tuesday morning.

Students at Chipola College, Haney Technical College, as well as Port St. Joe, Wewahitchka, and Wakulla High Schools, have all built their own artificial reefs.

“It’s a nice representation of what you’re actually going to be doing out in the field because out here, you know, you can actually run a good size bead instead of just welding on those tiny little plates,” Port St. Joe High School student Roman Siclaire said. “It can actually run like a good two or three-foot-long bead to help prepare you for the actual job site.”

Eastern Shipbuilding Group provided the materials for the reefs.

The group has partnered with many local schools as part of its workforce development board.

“We thought it would be a great initiative to help out not only our community, the Coastline Initiative, and these students to get some real-world experience prior to them leaving their education system,” Eastern Shipbuilding Group Director of Operations England Reeves said.

Chipola’s Dean of Workforce Darwin Gilmore said this partnership is invaluable to students in their job search.

“You have to get out and you have to get on a project-based weld so that you can get more real-world,” Gilmore said. “We are able to come at it from different angles, different perspectives when you’re welding on this reef, but also the concept of it being there from now on, that’s a cool concept.”

The work of these students will now help restore biodiversity along the gulf coastline.

These five artificial reefs will be deployed off into the Gulf of Mexico sometime in March.