By Shirley Shuman
BCHS engineering and welding students recently toured three facilities in the Cleveland, Ohio, area where they gained knowledge about techniques in their fields and learned of opportunities available to them after high school. Both groups, accompanied by their instructors—Dr. Ethan Backus, Shawn Crow, and Chris Cunningham—viewed several activities related to their planned careers.
All three facilities dealt with welding programs, and Lincoln Electric had several engineers and engineering applications. Lakeland Community College had multiple options for study in engineering technologies, and Ohio Technical College had several programs for students interested in mechanics and hands-on learning.
Dr. Backus, one of the engineering teachers, termed Lincoln Electric “an amazing experience.” He continued to note that the students “got to see how robots, which our students studied earlier in the year, are used in welding and along an assembly line.” These students also saw how engineers work in research and development at a large corporation and learned how the engineers are trying to take the existing technology and push it forward to make more efficient machines.
“Engineering students benefited by seeing all the state of the art equipment they otherwise wouldn’t have an experience to see,” Mr. Crow, the other engineering instructor, explained. “They also benefited by seeing the bridge between the welding and engineering professions and how they both need to understand principles of the other to work together to benefit the industry.” Here, Crow referred to “an entire automation line of robotic welding machines that rely on engineers to design, build and program but work alongside the welding professionals to build state of the art robots.”
Braxton junior Elijah Meekley, who plans a career in aerospace engineering, was especially impressed with the welding robots. “I was amazed at the precision of the welding robots,” he said. “These robots don’t make repetitions; they always get it right the first time.” Meekley was also interested in the laser welders. He noted these are “smaller, more precise, and are actually sometimes used in aerospace.”
Mr. Cunningham, the welding instructor, said that visiting Lincoln Electric was “eye-opening” for his students. At this site, his welders “got to see the different types of welding machines which we talked about early in the year.” In their tour, students were able to get partial view of coating welding rods. Summarizing the visit to this facility, Cunningham said that the main highlight of touring Lincoln Electric is that students learn the company “offers well-paid jobs for welders who want to work inside.”
Welding student Eddie Evans, who plans a career in welding, was highly impressed with the area of Lincoln Electric where they manufacture welding machines. “It was cool to see how much work has to be put into them and that these machines can do almost any welding job.”
Lakeland Community College provided something for both welding and engineering students. Instructor Cunningham emphasized the school’s welding department. “Our students saw a lot more equipment than they’d seen and much more up-to-date equipment,” he said. Here students did hands-on welding with the latest technology. Several were also interested in the educational opporunites this school offers.
Future welder Gabe Sigman preferred the community college tours to Lincoln Electric, which he found “somewhat chaotic.” Sigman liked that the students “got shown around and learned how everything works.” He added, “We also saw a lot of equipment which we don’t have.”
Ohio Technical College proved most interesting for many. This school not only has a welding program but also several programs dedicated to mechanics. Here, Dr. Backus pointed out, “A couple of our students saw that there are opportunities to integrate their interest in cars and off-road vehicles and are now considering attending after graduation.” Instructor Cunningham added, “All CTE students in West Virginia should see this college program where they can be certified.”
Wyatt Dennison plans a career in mechanical and industrial engineering with a possible minor in audio engineering. Dennison found this trip “extremely worthwhile,” he said, “because it allowed us to know another field we can possibly work with.” He would like to return next year, especially to the manufacturing area.