Barton Community College may add a basic welding program to its course lineup before the end of 2015.
At the May 14 BCC Board of Trustees study session, Dean of Workforce Training and Community Education Elaine Simmons talked about plans to offer courses that would lead to a level I (entry level) certificate from the American Welding Society (AWS).
“We’ve been offering the 16-hour certificate program for years at correctional facilities,” she said. Area employers and prospective students have asked for classes to be taught on the Barton County campus.
The proposed welding lab location would be in room T-172, which is now an automotive shop.
“We’d still maintain our automotive program,” Simmons said. The room, located in the college’s Technical Building, served as a welding lab in years past. Simmons said there is another room in use as an automotive shop, and T-172 is just being used for storage.
The college would seek a part-time instructor, but the person hired would need to be a certified Journeyman Welder, or have AWS certification, or be able to complete certification within the first year of employment.
“An instructor may not be easy to find,” Simmons said. The ideal choice would be a recent retiree from the industry.
A day program would be designed for certificate completion in one semester, and an evening program would be designed for completion in two semesters. Ongoing assessment would determine whether there is a need for weekend or summer program.
“We’re getting more and more feedback and excitement about this possibility,” Simmons said of a welding program.
Support is available from grant partners: AOK (Accelerating Opportunities in Kansas), AirGas Inc., Doonan Specialized Trailer LLC, Education Opportunity Center, Great Bend Industries, KansasWorks and Weller Tractor Salvage.
Other industry resources are available from PKM Steel, Great Plains Manufacturing, Pro-Bound Sports, Cashco, Maico Industries, Moly Manufacturing, Aaron’s Repair & Supply, Brentwood Builders Inc., Hoelscher Inc., MAMTC, Scott’s Welding Service and Joiner Construction.
External funding options include a $60,000 gift from an anonymous donor, but the donation offer expires on Dec. 31, 2015, if not utilized. Likewise, on April 28, Barton was notified it had been awarded a Jobs and Innovative Industry Skills Training (JIIST) grant for $80,608, but those funds also must be spent by the end of this year.
A $,2500 Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grant is available for start-up funds, and the college can expect ongoing state support for an AOK instructor.
Barton Vice President Dr. Penny Quinn said the college’s contribution of $91,309 to create a welding program was included in the budget for Fiscal Year 2016. That money will be used to upgrade facilities, purchase equipment, and pay for welding instructors’ salaries and AWS certification.
Promotions for the new program include a video, “Sparks Will Fly,” available from KansasWorks. It can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNfAYmtaT84&feature=player_embedded .
Barton’s Admissions Office reported there were 40-50 inquiries for a welding program during the 2014-2015 recruitment season, and an area high school has indicated interest in sending students to a welding program. Other departments have also fielded questions, and Barton’s Adult Education program estimates 10 students per year that would participate in an AOK welding program.
Each student pursuing the 16 credit-hour certificate program generates $4,236 in tuition/fees, state aid (tiered funding) and student course fees. Each AOK student that achieves the AWS credential generates an additional $1,000.
College administrators estimate that the college will recoup its contribution of $91,309 (about one-third of the total start-up cost) in three semesters if 20 students complete the program in that time.
The college already has a green light from the Kansas Board of Regents to offer a 16-hour certificate program, said Jane Howard, Barton’s executive director of Business Technology. “We know a lot of people in the industry,” Howard added.
The BCC Board of Trustees’ approval is needed for the program creation to move forward. At the study session, Chairman Mike Johnson said, “I’m excited to hear it’s only going to take 20 students to break even.”
“Yes,” Simmons said. “Need in the industry affects the life of these programs.”