It’s amazing how some extra space in a new building can improve an already high-quality program that helps students be job-ready in a field desperate for skilled workers.
That’s the case for the Welding Technology Program that moved into new space in January 2015 in Little Bear Peak on the Larimer Campus. Jason Walsh, program director, easily checks off the benefits for students:
Huge Fabrication Space
“We have a huge fabrication space we never had before,” he says. “Welders do two things. They weld to code, and they fabricate. That means they build things. The students are doing tons of stuff.” Right now students are building a life-size giraffe. Others are working on a boat. “We used to have to fabricate in between the welding booths,” Jason says.
43 Welding Booths
Speaking of welding booths, the Little Bear Peak welding lab has 13 more booths than previously, bringing the total to 43. And the booths are about three times the size of the old ones. An instructor can work with two students at a time now. There’s a brand new 4-foot-by-8-foot computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) plasma table that can be used to cut intricate designs.
Robotic and Virtual Welders
There’s room, finally, for a robotic welder. “Most of our industry advisors have begun robotic welding, and they need operators,” Jason says. “Robotic welders don’t put welders out of work. They make welding better, easier, and safer.”
One of the welding classrooms has a Virtual Welder. This computerized machine puts the welder in a virtual environment. “The students love it,” Jason says. “If students are having trouble in a welding booth, after 15 minutes on the Virtual Welder, their welding improves. The Virtual Welder gives direct, real-time feedback and reveals defects that we would have to do an X-ray on to see. It’s pretty neat.”
Nationally Recognized Certification
Saving the best for last, Jason says the biggest benefit to the new space is in the curriculum. Thompson Tindall of the Welding Technology faculty has led the program through the adoption of the SENSE curriculum from the American Welding Society. SENSE stands for School Excelling through National skill Standards Education. SENSE is a comprehensive set of minimum standards and guidelines. “Students can earn a nationally recognized certificate through SENSE,” Jason says.
A nationally recognized certificate shows you are job-ready. And the jobs are out there. “The job outlook is still very good,” Jason says. “Students leave here going to work.”
Try Your Hand at Welding for Fun
Never welded before? Try the one-day Welding for Fun class. Make some garden art or other decorative iron piece. More than half the students are female, Jason says.