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Class of the week: training students for high-paying welding jobs

By Diane Larson, Copy Editor

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Advanced welding student Tim Layton demonstrates SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) or stick welding at the Owens Community College Welding Center.

Photo by: Diane Larson
Advanced welding student Tim Layton demonstrates SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) or stick welding at the Owens Community College Welding Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Whatever you do, don’t look directly at the light,” virtually everyone in the Owens Community College Welding Center advises.

It’s 8 a.m. on a crisp fall Thursday. At the center, on the south edge of the Toledo campus, students begin their day. On one side is John Rabideau’s introduction to welding class. On the other, Nate Carpenter’s advanced students.

Carpenter is a graduate of this program and now serves as an adjunct instructor.  He currently works at Electro Prime in Rossford which describes itself as a state-of-the-art plant that e-coats, powder coats and assembles millions of parts, mainly for the auto industry, every month. He makes good money: his salary is in the upper five figures.

There is a tremendous need for welders in Northwest Ohio and Owens offers training to put welders in those high paying jobs in as little as 8 weeks.

“Forty different companies in a 100 mile radius are looking for welders,” says Terrence Katschke, the chair of Applied Engineering and Industrial Technologies in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

In Carpenter’s advanced class, welding student Molly Johnson demonstrates the eerie pinkish purple light emitted by FCAW or flux-core arc welding. Johnson’s the only woman in the class. Her hair is pulled back in a loose bun and the shoulders of her dark gray hoodie are peppered with tiny burn holes from errant sparks. She wants to help style the photo, so she Googles camera settings for pictures of welding. “Set the ISO for 800,” she advises. It’s set for 400 though in the picture below.

It’s hard not to look at the light, but Carpenter tells the story of getting “flash burn” or photokeratitis: a corneal burn that doesn’t always cause permanent eye damage, but is painful in the short run.

  “Just don’t look at the light,” he admonishes again.

It can be a high risk profession, especially for underwater welders and those who work on oil pipelines. But it’s also vital to our economy.  The Welding Information Center says that over 50% of the gross national product of the USA is related in one way or another to welding.

And lucrative too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says in the manufacturing industry, median pay for sheet-metal workers is $67,000 a year, while average pay in the shipbuilding industry for a materials engineer is $84,000.

Advanced welding student Molly Johnson shows how flux-core arc welding produces pink light and smoky tendrils.

Photo by: Diane Larson
Advanced welding student Molly Johnson shows how flux-core arc welding produces pink light and smoky tendrils.

 

 

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