Welding Program Offers Vocational Opportunities

AnnaLinda Andersson

The two-year welding program at GCC is getting more popular as people seek new skills in the down economy.

After completing the program, which prepares students for entry-level welding out in the working world, they receive a certificate.
“We prepare the students for entry-level welding,” said part-time instructor Dani Kaye. “After that, it’s up to the student to advance within the profession he or she chooses to pursue.”

Kaye has been teaching at GCC since 2005 and before that she was a welding student under Professor John Kray at GCC.

“Dani [Kaye] was a student of mine who finished the two-year program and then came back to work as my student assistant,” Kray said. “Her dad owns his own welding shop so she has grown up with welding and worked a lot with it.”

Kray is an associated professor of technical education and has worked as a welding teacher for over 32 years. He has now partly retired and only holds classes twice a week. One of the classes is welding and the other one is metallurgy.

“Dani will hopefully .eventually take over the welding instruction completely,” Kray said.

Both beginning and advanced levels of welding is offered.

Within the program one learns different techniques of welding. There are five different types available for the students: shielded metal arc welding; MIG welding; oxy-fuel welding; TIG welding and flex-core welding.

Students who earn their certificate often go into jobs straight afterward instead of moving on to four-year schools. Kaye has not encountered any student who indeed transferred to continue his or hers welding studies. “The AS degree from GCC definitely prepares you for the future,” Kaye said.
Some of the students get the broad education of the different areas of welding while others choose to specialize.

Not all students take welding classes for the possible careers available. Some do it for personal reasons. “Some do it for art, some just want an extra skill,” Kaye said. “And it is a good skill to learn.”

Student Jeff Kosztowny, 20, agreed with Kaye. “I don’t know yet what specific area I am going to go into after getting my certificate at the end of this semester,” Kosztowny said. “But whatever I choose to do, [having] the certificate really opens the door for whether you want to work with structure welding, cars, motorcycles or airplanes.”

The most common jobs students tend to pursue after graduation from the program is working with construction and in repair shops. But the possibilities are far greater than that.

One could work with everything from aircrafts and spacecrafts welding to shipyard welding, structure stealing or making custom-made cars and motorcycles.

When asked about the job opportunities and what the future looks like for a welder these days, Kray said that right now construction work has slowed down together with the economy, but when the economy picks up construction jobs will pick up with it. “A lot of the students train for the future,” Kray said.

The welding industry is a mostly male-dominated one, but Kray usually has some female students and said that the female interest in welding comes and goes in cycles. “Usually it’s one or two out of 20 students who are females, but sometimes is four or five in a class,” he said.

Female or not, the welding program at GCC is a very popular so signing up for classes early is a must. “The welding department is sort of small at GCC and we cannot expand,” Kaye said. “At the moment we have around 100 students enrolled as welding majors.”

Kray also pointed out that the limited space reserved for the welding department is a negative thing. “Someday I would like to see a larger space so we could take more students,” he said.

Kaye also noticed an increased interest in the welding program now when the economy is not as stable. She sees a lot of laid-off people returning to school to either learn a new skill or advance their previous ones.

Kosztowny, who is Kaye’s student assistant, has also noticed an increase. “It seems to get busier with both new and returning students,” Kosztowny said. “If one wants to add a welding class, do it quickly for it fills up within a week or two.”

Although Kosztowny recommends the program and enjoys it fully, maybe welding is not for everyone.

“Welding is for people who enjoy manipulation skills with their hands,” Kray said. “It’s a craft. Everything can’t be done by robots and welding is an ancient trade that will keep going.”

The welding department is located in the AT building room 201.

On The Cover: Steven Gonzalez, 36, welding major, arc welds his current project during Kaye’s class.