Welding program support
Uintah Basin Technical College (UBTECH) is fast becoming Utah’s championship welding school thanks, in part, to a partnership with local distributor, Norco — the Northwest’s largest independent distributor of welding and safety gases and supplies.
For nearly 50 years, UBTECH has produced the best new welding operators in the state of Utah, providing a much-needed service to local industries and giving students the skills they need to succeed. Today the school provides instruction to well over 400 students annually between its Roosevelt and Vernal campuses.
Knowing the importance of bringing welding distributors and schools together, Miller helped foster a partnership between Norco and UBTECH to support its welding program. The result? Welding students now have access to state-of-the-art equipment, an excellent consumable supply chain, training and exposure to other welding fields, as well as scholarships. There is also curriculum assistance for instructors.
By providing students with an opportunity to use modern machines and materials, UBTECH can better prepare them to enter the workforce, where they will encounter similar, state-of-the-art equipment.
“Our students are now working with technologies and welding machines that probably supersede much of what the local industry has,” says UBTECH President Aaron Weight. “So, they are well positioned to become leaders within our local economy, throughout the state and even throughout the nation and world.”
In addition to helping students get the education they need to become welding operators in the modern workforce, this partnership has also proved beneficial as UBTECH continues to expand. Case in point: In the fall of 2018, the school will open a new welding technology building on the Roosevelt campus that will offer 32 booths and a large fabrication space.
“One of the greatest things about this partnership, in addition to having access to nice, new equipment, is having outstanding welding engineers and industry professionals we can contact with questions,” said Kevin Mitchell, a welding instructor at the Roosevelt campus. “Having a great supply of materials for our program, at reasonable rates, is also a huge help.”
Weight said Norco’s training center in the Salt Lake City area is another incredible asset to students, as it gives them exposure to a Miller robotic welding cell, high-definition cutting machines with 360-degree bevel heads, extraction machines, positioning equipment and submerged arc welding equipment through hands-on demonstrations. Most students would not even have an opportunity to see welding automation in action, let alone get a hands-on opportunity to work in with a robotic welding cell.
“We have a really great partnership with people who share the same vision we do and who want to put people into the workforce in the welding industry,” Weight said.
The Roosevelt campus also has 16 existing welding booths and an open fabrication shop with 10 to 15 rows, as well as a pipe shop with 10 engine-driven welders. The Vernal campus offers 28 welding stations, a small fabrication shop and some outdoor lab space.
Both student and industry demands are driving the growth at UBTECH, along with the exceptional education provided by instructors like Mitchell. These excellent instructors have taught several state and national Skills USA welding competition champions, as well as a world contender.
In fact, in the last four years, six UBTECH students have attended the national Skills USA welding competition convention. One student placed fifth in the world, during a global competition in Abu Dhabi — technically fourth, since there was a tie for second place.
UBTECH students learn a broad spectrum of skills during their training, ranging from a D1.1 structural and 3G and 4G positions on pipe to GMAW, SMAW and GTAW processes. In addition, the school teaches carbon arc gouging and plasma arc cutting. UBTECH also offers a full pipe program that teaches B31B3.
“We're also looking at adding exotics — getting into the ink mill and things like that — which they are starting to implement more in the oil and gas industry because H2S gas is eating away the pipe lining,” says Mitchell.
The school is running several Dynasty® TIG welding machines with tooling systems, some Millermatic® 350P MIG welders and several XMT® 304 multiprocess machines.
“With our limited booth space, we needed more multi-functioning machines,” Mitchell says.
UBTECH also uses the Miller AugmentedArc™ augmented reality system to teach students.
“Students like that it's augmented reality, not just simulation. With the new augmented reality, you can actually see your hand moving, so it’s a lot more realistic,” Mitchell says.
The school’s 990-hour program provides students with a certificate and enables them to go out into the workforce or continue their education at Utah State University in engineering or related fields.
“When students leave UBTECH and they go on to a university, they're not learning how to weld. They already know how to weld,” said Weight. “They're learning additional skills to go with that.”
So, what does Norco get out of this partnership? And why were they so eager for Miller to align the distributor with UBTECH?
“It’s always been Norco’s vision to be involved in the community and schools. As a result, we seek out opportunities to team up with top-notch facilities like UBTECH — one of the best in the area — to support them with new technology and the latest and greatest equipment,” said Larry Booth, welding and automation product manager at Norco. “The proof is in the pudding because they have produced numerous award-winners. That's a program that Norco definitely wants to team up with; we always like to be associated with champions. We also want to support future welders, so they look to Norco for their businesses and opportunities down the road.”