MCTEA to close skills gap with new welding equipment
10 September 2018
North Carolina’s Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy's welding program has added 10 new machines, doubling the total number of machines in the high school's welding and metalwork lab.
The purchase of these new multi-process machines, which have aluminum cutting capabilities, was possible after MCTEA received $92,000 from a state grant and a workforce grant from the Department of Education. The grants were received in April, and the new equipment arrived in July.
With the new machines, the students in the welding program can now develop more complex, higher-level skills which were not available at the high school level before this year. The main goals of the lab instructors are to spark the interest and passion of students pursuing careers in welding or metalwork and to prepare them for an easier transition into the workforce or higher education in the field.
"A total of 10 new machines with push-pull guns are now set up in the workroom and all are outfitted with what is called the 'quick connects,' which means different types of welding tasks can be easily done by switching out and attaching tools before moving on in the welding process," said Daniel Zard, lead instructor of the welding program at MCTEA. "I fell in love with these machines when I was a student of the welding program at MTI."
In addition to the new machines, MCTEA purchased new helmets for the students through the Perkins Act, a state fund that allows schools to apply for improvement funds for equipment. The helmets offer a wider visual range through the large sight glass and comply with the high safety standards of the school.
This semester, more than 100 students have registered for MCTEA's welding program, with some of them commuting from Mount Vernon, Ethan or Parkston to take part in the Mitchell program.
Some of the welding machines now available at MCTEA are set up for gas tank and Tungsten Inert Gas, or TIG, welding and have a torch and a stinger for stick welding, as well as their own lead for MIG welding (gas metal arc welding/wire feed.) TIG welding is most commonly used to weld thin sections of stainless steel or aluminum, while in the MIG arc welding process, continuous solid wire electrode is fed through a welding gun and into the weld pool, joining the two base materials together.
MTI reports a 100 percent job placement for participants of its welding program.
Image courtesy of mitchellcteacademy.com