The World of Welding at International Institute of Welding looks on as 40 Boy Scouts Earn Welding Merit Badges in Denver
Thanks to Miller and AWS, downtown Denver was the site for Boy Scouts from the area to earn their Welding merit badges, while the world of welding met across the street at the International Institute of Welding (IIW).
It took about a dozen welding volunteers, the Miller Road Show Truck and the American Welding Society truck to get it done, but area Boy Scouts received their Welding merit badges in an afternoon, and welding gained 40 new young fans and potential future professionals. The Scouts earning merit badges and gaining enthusiasm for welding are important developments for a profession facing a shortage of workers in the future. Also important, the attendees at IIW from 46 different countries had a chance to see that today’s pros from Miller Electric Mfg. Co. are working hard to keep the doors open to welding and open the eyes of American youth to the possibilities in welding careers.
The Boy Scouts of America released the Welding merit badge, the brainchild of AWS vice president Dave Landon, in February of 2012. It seemed logical to match a hot July Denver sun with the bright spectacle of 12-13-and 14, year-olds welding, in some cases having their first shot at fusing metal together, just outside the Colorado Convention Center, where the best and brightest of welding gathered to talk about the future.
The Scouts learned about MIG welding and Plasma Cutting and had multiple turns at each. While thousands of global welding professionals met at IIW, the Scouts first gathered inside the Miller Road Show truck to learn about welding safety and have their day of welding mapped out.
Scoutmaster Steve Bruce kicked off the class with encouraging words for the wide-eyed youngsters. Steve himself never had a chance to weld as a young person, but through his career navigated to a position at General Air.
“These are the kids that will have to make a living some day,” says Bruce, special needs counselor, Denver Area Council of BSA. “And welding is a great profession. Whether they go get their associate degree or work all the way through a masters or PH.D., welding offers a wide variety of careers paths.”
As the global visitors at IIW stopped by and looked on, the Scouts practiced lap joints, butt joints, t-joints and did some plasma cutting. It’s all a part of the curriculum developed by the AWS and the Boy Scouts of America.
America Welding Society Executive Director Ray Shook is pleased with what he saw in Denver. Young people exploring, learning, having fun and picking up a skill dear to his heart: welding.
“It’s so exciting to see young people and what they are doing and thinking about our future,” says Ray Shook, executive director, AWS. “We have people representing 46 different countries here at IIW. For us to be able to show the world the commitment we have to our young people and welding here in the United States is just tremendous.”
Zachary Green is a Boy Scout from Troop 637 in Sedalia, Colo. He’s quite confident he sees his future –- as a structural engineer. The opportunity to earn his welding merit badge and get his hands on a key tool in the field of structural engineering means he’s ahead of the class.
“Learning how to build stuff, learning how to weld was so cool,” says Green. “I’ve welded before but not with great equipment like these machines.”
Current AWS Vice President and incoming President David Landon was instrumental in bringing the AWS and Boys Scouts of America together to create the Welding merit badge –- a five-year process.
On this day he stopped by the Miller Show Truck to see the years of hard work paying off. He saw lots of energized and smiling faces. It was obvious to Landon that a new door of possibility had been opened to these Scouts. He knows the thrill that comes with fusing two pieces of metal together for the first time.
“There are so many opportunities they can learn about. It’s not just hands-on but engineering, entrepreneurs, marketing, so many welding-related career paths that these young people can be open to,” said Landon. “The whole idea of creating something. The sparks, the molten metal, the ability to grab a stringer or torch and put metal together is a satisfying and inspiring experience.”
With the help of adult volunteers from around Denver, the Scouts were able to check off the requirements and earn the Welding merit badge in less than four hours. The experience seemed to pay dividends, especially for the first timers. In some cases the closest to welding they’d ever been is a TV screen.
“I’ve seen welding before on TV shows and YouTube,” says Sam Ostravich, a Boy Scout from Troop 873 in Highlands Ranch, Colo. “I thought it might be fun to do so my mom signed me up. I’ve had a blast! It was a lot of fun, and I could see doing this for a living.”
Welding Engineer Justin Elliott is one of the young rising pros at Miller. Elliott currently works with the Miller Road Show Truck, he thought back to his not-so-distant youth while looking on at the flurry of Scouts outside the truck in downtown Denver.
“Sometimes it just takes that first opportunity to weld,” says Elliott. “For me it was a choice my freshman year of high school. Wood class or metals class? I chose the metals class. I was hooked. I wouldn’t be at Miller today if I had not had that first opportunity to pick up a torch.”
Forty new fans of welding were created in Denver. This scene is repeated on a smaller scale in cities and towns across the country –- anywhere a Boy Scout troop resides –- welding pros helping young people earn the Welding merit badge and gain an appreciation for creating and building.
“As Scouts we like to build stuff,” says Marco Zocchi, Troop 634, Centennial, Colo. “It feels really good to take basically nothing and create something. It was great to get this experience and to try something new. I will want to do more welding in the future.”
The world looked on as America’s future earned the welding badge and learned a new skill in less than a day in Denver. It’s what the Scouts do from here that will benefit the industry tomorrow and well into the future. If you would like to volunteer to help Boy Scouts earn the Welding merit badge in your hometown go to www.bsa.org or contact your local Boy Scouts council.