COLUMBUS, Ga. — What do a car, a cell phone, and an airplane have in common? They’re all welded. Welding plays an important part in piecing many plastics, metals, and other materials together. Welding also plays an important part at Columbus Technical College. The college just completed new welding lab renovations. According to President Lorette Hoover, the renovations could spark the local economy.
Between the local industries, the industries in LaGrange, including soldiers that are apart of Fort Benning or federal contractors that needed welders as a part of their services at Fort Benning, we’re able to train a large group of employees for the employers,” Hoover said.
Columbus Tech faculty and staff, as well as several business leaders from around the Chattahoochee Valley heralded the grand opening of the new welding lab Tuesday. A new state-of-the-art facility will now allow students to work on three different types of welding and compete for jobs on an international scale.
“I thought it would be something good I could do, and not set my beard on fire in the process,” student James Tatum told News 3.
Welding sparked the veteran’s curiosity once he left the service. He says while combat was markedly more difficult, there are similarities between the military and welding.
“There is a need for patience when welding, and being comfortable with your equipment, as a lot of the stuff I learned was very similar to what they teach in the military,” Tatum said.
Armando Troche once learned welding at Columbus Tech. Now, he’s wielding his craft while teaching others.
“Everything you carry or ride or fly in is welded,” Troche said. “Planes and cell phones…if it’s soldered it’s some type of welding. Let’s say a student comes in and they’ve never welded a day in their life. When they get to weld that first day and you get to see them striking art the first day and then the last day of class, it’s like night and day.”
The Columbus Tech welding department has seen enrollment double within the last decade. And now, with new virtual technology and welding lab renovations, they’re better able to prepare their students for the workforce. The school applied for the Governor’s World Class state Lab grant, worth about $1.3 million. Construction on the lab began in October. The renovations were finished by the start of spring semester 2017.
“Better processes…and no matter how much automation may take a job away from some people, somebody’s going to always have to climb down inside a pipe,” Tatum said.
And while the economy may test the mettle of some people, welding typically withstands the forces of economic downturns.
“I can get fired one day and hired the next,” Troche explained. “There’s that much of a demand in welding.”