Welding education and training
An expanding program for a growing field
In 2017, Penn College received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration that allowed the college to expand and enhance its welding lab from a 17,000-square-foot facility to over 55,000 square feet with 124 individual welding booths to support more welding students entering the program.
The newly, state-of-the-art facility was completed with all the latest equipment, which is predominantly Miller® products — from the Dynasty®, Continuum™, Big Blue® 400 PipePro® to the one-of-a-kind MobileArc™ Augmented Reality Welding System. “The level of technology is amazing,” shared James Colton II, Assistant Welding Professor, Co-Department Head.
“Once the students started to explore all the tools’ capabilities, they loved them. In fact, kids race to get to the Miller machines. A group came in 15 minutes early today to make sure they had them,” explained Colton. “It’s difficult to motivate college students to come 15 minutes early to class — at 8 in the morning! I don’t know if there’s any other testament stronger than that,” shared his colleague, Ryan Good, Assistant Welding Professor.
Training experts, not just welders
Penn College houses 18 different subject matter experts and allows students to rapidly increase knowledge in a hands-on environment. “What makes our program at Penn College unique is that we’re not here to train people to weld. We’re training experts,” explained Good. “We teach more than welding here. We focus on valuable skills, such as critical thinking, troubleshooting, good communication, and interpersonal skills. These skills, along with a systems mindset, are what helps students thrive in the industry.”
Penn College welding program graduates have a nearly 100% placement rate. Good stated: “Our graduates can make educated recommendations and have an opinion. They work through challenges. They know how to set up and work efficiently with quality results and with the least amount of risk. And it’s more than just welding. Our students can do automating, inspecting, sanitary welding…there are so many different facets.”
Putting knowledge into practice
Students in the welding program are given numerous opportunities to apply their learnings. One such opportunity was a joint venture between Penn State and Penn College. Together, they built a fully-sustainable, 45-foot-long by 35-foot-wide “Living Chapel,” unveiled at the Botanical Garden of Rome.
“Part of our goal is to make our students experts. The other part is to get them employed. Once they get out there and people see how they separate themselves from their peers and rise above, then companies want more students like them. And they come to Penn College looking,” explained Good.
Students also designed and built a chopper constructed entirely from stainless steel to put at the entrance of the school. In projects like these students run the show. “We empower and enable them, helping them get their ideas out of their head, into a concept and then make it happen. We get them comfortable affecting change and taking control,” said Good.
Good explained, “They are the future. They are going to change the industry.” By being able to build students’ communication skills, inspiring them to collaborate and encouraging them to explore their ideas, Penn College students are fully prepared and trained to enter the workforce upon graduation, building a stronger, thriving welding workforce.