Ontario Students Cover the Welding and Cutting Spectrum
Welding students at Fort Frances High School in Fort Frances, Ontario, are learning a little bit of everything — a teaching philosophy their instructor employs to best prepare them for the industry. “I like to think that when our students leave here, they’re pretty well rounded,” says Robert Guertin, lead teacher in the welding and machining component of the school’s manufacturing program.
The Canadian high school takes part in the Specialist High School Majors (SHSM) program, which allows students to take extra periods during the day of certain specialties, such as shop or manufacturing, and earn certification in areas such as CPR or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The SHSM program also has provided extra funds for the school to purchase more welding and cutting equipment, Guertin says. One recent purchase is a Millermatic® 212 Auto-Set™ wire welder from Miller.
“We’re pretty well set up. We have a 212 Auto-Set, and the kids have really taken to that,” Guertin says. “They really like it. We want kids to get experience with the type of equipment they’ll see in the industry.”
The students were already learning about MIG, Flux-Cored and Stick welding and oxy-fuel and plasma cutting, when TIG welding joined the curriculum. TIG was added about a year ago for 12th-grade students who have progressed through the other levels of the welding program. Adding another welding process has broadened the spectrum for the students and helps them get a better grasp on the skills needed in the industry.
“I would always hear them saying ‘I want to do TIG, I want to do TIG,’” says Guertin. “This gives them an awareness of what TIG actually is.”
Even students who may struggle a bit to pick up TIG skills appreciate being exposed to a greater range of welding processes, Guertin says.
“They realize you just don’t step into this and just do it. It takes some training,” he says. “I think it gives them a better awareness of what a welder actually does. It’s good for them, to challenge them.”
In addition to welding, students in the Fort Frances manufacturing program train in oxy-fuel and plasma cutting, CNC cutting, tube bending and lathing, among other skills.
They complete projects around the school and the community. Recent projects include a bistro set for the school atrium, a foot bridge at the school, trailer and go-cart construction and repair, and decorative metal signs that hang around the city, for which the students did the AutoCAD work and plasma cutting.
Students from the program also take part in co-op placements with local businesses and industry.
“The co-op helps give them a little bit of a view into industry and what it’s really like,” Guertin says.