UTTC revives welding program

Aug 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-1: Communicating Yesterday's Stories Today, Tribal College News
By Dennis J. Neumann

FIRED UP. The welding program at UTTC, dating back to the 1970s as seen here, will soon be revived with renovated facilities, new equipment, and updated training as a result of jobs creation funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor. United Tribes News file photo

A once popular vocational program that went dormant for the past decade will soon be revived at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND). The college is restarting its welding program to provide much-needed workforce training.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded funding to renovate facilities in UTTC’s Skill Center, and the U.S. Department of Labor chipped in with funding for new equipment, supplies, and personnel.

The program is directed by Steve Shepherd, who has 17 years of experience as a welder and is a member of the Iron Workers Union. Shepherd learned the skill, and art, of welding in his home area, Sisseton-Wahpeton, from an experienced mentor. “I’ve welded on heavy equipment, trailers, signs, on skyscrapers in Minnesota, bridges, roller-coasters,” says Shepherd. “I’ve welded on a lot of things.”

The UTTC program will establish a foundation of welding knowledge and skill. Students will learn the industry’s traditional, time-tested form of fusing metal: shielded metal arc welding, better known as “stick welding.” The 16-week-course will also include newer forms of welding, such as wire feed, gas-metal arc, flux-core arc, and TIG welding. Students who graduate will go on to specialized training in established apprentice programs.

Shepherd’s redesign of the former welding area in the UTTC Skill Center includes the installation of new welding booths and space for equipment storage, along with a large gantry to handle raw materials. The centerpiece will be several welding simulators that shorten the learning curve and dramatically improve welding skills. “It’s a really good training tool,” says Shepherd. “And it eliminates waste and reduces the cost of your consumable materials like welding rods and tips.”

Once construction and renovation of the welding area is completed, the first training session will start in the fall. In each group there will be 12 students; approximately three dozen will be trained each year.

“Getting them trained is the goal, whether it’s for the oil patch or into one of the local unions, or going to a manufacturing plant,” he says. “Whatever they plan to do, they’ll get the proper fundamental training here.” The UTTC welding program will also provide placement services in a field of the student’s choice. For more information contact Steve Shepherd, (701) 255- 3285 x1357, sshepherd@uttc.edu.

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