Eastfield College Plans to Expand Welding Fabrication Offerings
Students in the welding program at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, can earn certificates in three main welding processes — MIG, TIG or Stick — and the college hopes to soon expand its program to also offer a certificate in welding fabrication, due to industry demand in that area.
Many of the students in the Eastfield welding program earn certificates in all three welding processes. Students can also take classes at Eastfield’s sister college to obtain an associate degree in welding.
One graduate of the Eastfield College welding program has returned to teach in the school’s welding and auto body programs. Stephanie Dibble spent a few years after graduation working in a few body shops and doing custom welding and fabrication for vehicles — headers, exhaust systems and custom aluminum panels were among the parts she welded.
About five years ago, Dibble returned to Eastfield to teach welding. She’s one of three instructors in the college’s welding program, which has about 55 students.
“We do sort of an introduction to everything — some pipes, some thicker structural steel, some emphasis on fabrication,” she says. “A lot of times out in the industry, you’ll be given blueprints and told ‘you need to make this,’ so students need those skills.”
Some Eastfield students start out in the auto body welding class (part of the auto body program) and that is the introduction to welding that ignites their interest in the field.
“A lot of people in the auto body program discover they love welding and then enter the welding program,” Dibble says.
Eastfield College is part of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), one of the largest community college systems in Texas. Since 1965, DCCCD has served more than 1.5 million people through its seven independently accredited colleges.
The welding program prepares students for a career in welding by giving them the skills they need to perform multiple types of welds in a variety of positions. An emphasis is placed on shop cleanliness and good work ethics.
The students build equipment stands, tables and welding carts that are used in their classroom. In addition, they sometimes weld together interesting sculptures, as the program has a CNC plasma cutter that can cut out the pieces they need to create them.
“We’re also trying to get some industry work coming for the students to weld on, to get that industry experience,” Dibble says.
The college has 24 welding stations, many with Miller® MIG, TIG and Stick welders, including a number of Millermatic® 211 machines, some Dynasty® TIG welders and a Bobcat™ engine-driven welder/generator. In addition, the welding program just ordered a Miller LiveArc Welding Performance Management System, a reality-based recruiting, screening and training solution, which Dibble is eager to try out.
“A lot of our welders are from the ’70s. These welders have gone through thousands of students — including me,” she says. “I remember some of them from when I was a student here.”
Stephanie’s advice to aspiring welders is that, although welding can be very difficult and doesn’t always come easily to everyone, with enough work, dedication and patience, anyone can become a good welder.