Partnership with Cee Kay Supply and Miller
After nearly 20 years without a welding program, Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois, relaunched its welding technology program in 2012 using funds from a federal grant. The program saw immediate demand — with enrollment hitting 120 students within the first three semesters.
A few years later, the program received a $3.25 million donation from a local laborer, money that was used to help pay for a new $4.5 million state-of-the-art facility.
“The college didn’t have a welding program for about 20 years, and then initially, we cleared out a 60-by-70 pole barn in the maintenance department that we were using,” says Travis Jumper, the college’s welding program coordinator and an assistant professor. “Now to have this amazing facility — it’s so great for our students.”
Demand for welding education
For the first six years after the program relaunched, welding classes were held in a 4,000-square-foot former barn, with 15 welding stations.
Classes were limited to 15 students each, so the high demand meant the program was running classes from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with additional classes on Fridays and Saturdays.
The program offers 11 different welding degrees and certificates, including an associate’s degree in welding technology, a certificate of proficiency in welding technology, and certificates in specialized areas such as stick welding, TIG welding, MIG welding and pipe fabrication.
A new welding facility
The program’s future was dramatically altered when local laborer Ed Weber approached the school about donating money.
“He was a laborer from the day he was 18 years old, and that’s what he did his entire life,” Jumper says. “He was a hardworking blue-collar guy who worked his whole life, saved his money and was active in the stock market.”
Thanks to Weber’s $3.25 million donation, the new 16,000-square foot Ed Weber Workforce Center opened on the Lewis and Clark campus in August 2018.
The welding technology program doubled its welding stations — going from 15 to 30 in the main welding lab — and added instructor offices, three classrooms, and separate lab space for cutting, grinding and air arcing. The new facility also has a separate weld inspection and testing room.
“Now we can run classes simultaneously, instead of one at a time,” Jumper says. “We can run up to seven classes at a time if we use every room to its maximum capacity.”
Partnership with Miller and Cee Kay Supply
With the new facility and program expansion, the school partnered with Miller Electric Mfg. LLC and Cee Kay Supply to provide the latest welding technology for students to learn on.
The Lewis and Clark welding program had a long relationship with Cee Kay Supply, the largest independent supplier of compressed gases and welding and cutting equipment in Missouri, with five retail locations throughout Missouri and Illinois.
“We’ve seen Lewis and Clark evolve into this great new welding center,” says Timm Evans, vice president of sales with Cee Kay Supply. “We felt it was very worthwhile to partner with them and also support the schools in the surrounding communities that funnel into Lewis and Clark.”
The welding program will use some of the welding equipment for two years before upgrading, at which time the old equipment will be available to purchase at a discounted rate by the 16 high schools that feed into Lewis and Clark.
“It’s a great way for the high schools to get newer equipment than they otherwise might be able to afford, and Lewis and Clark gets upgraded equipment every two years,” Evans says. “Being on the cutting edge with the newest and latest equipment from Miller, it is a nice platform for the kids to learn from.”
The partnership between the college, Cee Kay Supply and Miller bridges welding education and technology to help inspire and excel careers in welding.
“Miller wants to provide students and instructors hands-on learning with the most innovative welding products offered today,” says Jessica Marhefke, segment manager, Miller Welding Education & Workforce Development. “Miller® welding equipment, personal protective equipment and welding accessories are an essential part of making this happen.”
MIG, TIG, stick and more
The Lewis and Clark welding lab includes XMT® 450, PipeWorx 400 and Dimension™ 450 multiprocess welders as well as Dynasty® 400 TIG welders. A 24-foot flatbed welding truck is outfitted with a Big Blue® 800 welder/generator for field welding.
Other highlights for the Lewis and Clark welding program are the 12 AugmentedArc® Augmented Reality Welding Systems and four LiveArc™ Welding Performance Management Systems.
“We have enough units to have the entire class be able to use their own virtual reality or augmented reality system for learning and training,” Jumper says. “The students love to play with that technology and then compare their scores. It pushes them to do better each time they use it.”
The new facility, as well as the partnership with Miller and Cee Kay Supply, benefits Lewis and Clark and the high schools in its region. It also helps provide more exposure to welding careers.
“If we can funnel the equipment down to the high schools and improve those welding programs, we can provide as much assistance and exposure as possible for them,” Jumper says.
Cee Kay Supply can also use the Lewis and Clark welding facility as a demo showroom of sorts for its customers.
“It’s an amazing facility,” Evans says. “It’s one of the best welding schools I’ve ever seen.”
Images provided by Route 3 Films.