By Sarah Plummer
New River Community and Technical College announces full, state-of-the-art welding labs are operational at both its Lewisburg and Ghent campuses.
While New River has offered a variety of certificates and degrees in Lewisburg’s lab for some time, Ghent’s full lab at the Advanced Technology Center is newly installed and has “students working on real, hands-on projects that can be applied to real world problems on the job,” according to instructor Brad Veneri.
The American Welding Society estimates that by 2019, there will be a shortage of 310,000 welders in the United States alone, noted the teacher.
Locally, New River partners and works with industry leaders and local businesses to make sure students can readily transition into the local workforce.
“We know locally the coal market affects other types of work, like welding. But any industry in the area, from coal to any type of manufacturing, needs a welder to do maintenance or fabrication,” he said.
One of Veneri’s students, Adam Jones, now in his second semester of the program, said he would encourage others to consider a career in welding.
“The natural gas pipeline work is about to explode in West Virginia and there is the opportunity to make really good money,” he said.
Jones said he is expected to go into work on a natural gas pipeline project.
Another student, Alexander Meadows, hopes to get a job doing fabrication at a machine shop.
“The program at New River lets you practice welding and get the hands-on experience you will take with you when you go to work. I’ll leave here with prior experience doing the job,” he said.
Jones and Meadows expect to go into different areas for jobs when they leave New River, but Veneri explained that’s one of the beautiful aspects of the program. They offer certificates for skill sets along the way or students can continue to attain an associate degree in general welding, pipe welding, pipe fitting or structural welding.
Veneri said his current class has 26 enrolled and the students learn at their own pace.
Students learn, not only a variety of fabrication and welding techniques, but they also learn metallurgy and reading and drafting blueprints.
In addition, the program focuses on safety training and all graduates come out with their OSHA 10 safety card.
Veneri said the more students who are interested in the program, the more variety of class times will be offered. He hopes a demand will grow enough for New River to offer night classes for those who want to return to school but must hold down a day job.
Veneri said the New River program, which is run at American Welding Society standards, is the only community technical college in southern West Virginia offering this caliber of a welding degree.
Applications are currently being accepted for summer and fall classes.
For more information or to apply online, visit New River Community and Technical College online at www.newriver.edu.
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