Barton Community College in conjunction with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development will host a coffee followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for its new welding lab at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 in the Technical Building, room T-172.
The public is invited to view the new welding lab and enjoy coffee, catered food and door prizes. There will be comments by Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman, Foundation Director Nancy Wiebe and Executive Director of Workforce Training and Economic Development Mary Foley.
Barton’s welding program was created when the Workforce Training division’s administrators spoke with industry leaders and recognized a need for trained professionals in the industry.
“According to the Kansas Department of Labor the need for welders is expected to increase by 8.8 percent by 2022, we felt we could fill a need and help connect employers with potential employees,” Foley said. “Our advisory boards were telling us there was a shortage of qualified welders in the area. We had potential students telling us that they wanted to learn how to be a welder.”
Like other technical education programs at Barton, the welding program has an advisory board of industry professionals to guide the program and ensure its success. One of the board members, is Chandler Wieland of Airgas in Great Bend. He said the program will be beneficial for the industry and students alike.
“The oil and gas industries have infrastructure that constantly needs updating,” he said. “Some of these pipes have been in the ground 50 years. It’s not as simple as just stick welding around a pipe, a lot of it is TIG welding and is highly technical and it’s not just the pipeline industry, wherever you’ve got concrete and steel you’ve got welding, so bridges and roads need updating constantly.”
Wieland said welding is much more involved than meets the eye.
“Students need to know how to read blueprints, how to read tapes and remove metal as precisely as they add metal,” he said. “There’s so much that goes into it, and we are excited to partner with the college and help produce people who have the knowledge and expertise to enter the workforce.”
The lead donor for the lab was Murphy Family Enterprises. Scott’s Welding Service, Inc and Airgas of Great Bend donated equipment and supplies.
For more information or to enroll in the welding program, contact Coordinator of Industrial Technology Tina Grillot at Grillott@bartonccc.edu or 620-792-9325.