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Barton plans to expand its welding programs
Barton Community College welding student Lawton Smith is shown in the welding lab at Barton Community College in this file photo from 2020. The college announced plans to expand its welding program this fall.

Barton Community College plans to expand its welding programs on the Great Bend campus by the 2022 fall semester. The 16-credit-hour certificate program will grow to a 17-hour program. Students will also have the option of earning a higher-level certificate through a 38-hour program or they can earn an associate of applied science (AAS) degree, said Mary Foley, executive director of Workforce Training and Economic Development at Barton.

Foley reported on the plan Tuesday at the monthly BCC Board of Trustees study session.

With the closure of the automotive program, the welding program is able to double the size of its space, Foley said. All expenses associated with converting the area to welding space – including new equipment and shop upgrades – have been paid for through a $190,938 JIIST (Jobs and Innovative Industry Skills Training - Kansas) grant and a $24,600 AWS (American Welding Society) grant.

The rationale for changing the program comes upon the recommendation of Barton’s welding advisory board and student interest. Administrators identified the need for additional courses and exit points. Under a proposal that will go to the Kansas Board of Regents, the welding certificate program will be modified from the original 16-credit-hour program to a 17-hour program with the addition of a one-hour “Introduction to Welding” course. The first certificate level and the 38-credit-hour program are stackable within the AAS degree, which requires 64 credit hours.

Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman recommends expanding the program on campus.

“It’s really turning out to be a strong program,” he said, adding the expansion will help the college do even more for filling area workforce needs.

According to the Kansas Labor Outlook Report, there will be a 6% increase in employment in this field by 2026. The median salary for these jobs is $39,580.

Through a variety of classroom, hands-on and assessment activities, students will learn about the different types of joints, positions, blueprint symbols and safety standards needed to excel in a career in welding.

In addition to grant funding, Foley noted industry partnerships. For example, Barton receives scrap metal from Maico, Doonan Trailer and Great Plains Manufacturing.

The expansion will require two full-time faculty members and two adjunct instructors. The adjunct faculty will teach an online course in blueprint reading and OSHA 10/Safety via Zoom from Barton’s Grandview Plaza location.

Foley’s report to the trustees was submitted by herself; Wade Morris, welding instructor/coordinator; and Dr. Kathy Kottas, dean of Workforce Training and Community Education.