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franklin county times

FC welding provides real work simulation

Franklin County Career and Technical Center’s welding classroom doesn’t have the typical classroom setup with desks all in rows – and for good reason.

Welding teacher Justin Steele said his goal with this CTE program is to train students to be safe and knowledgeable and ready for the workforce. To enforce that, he has rules and a certain setup his students have to follow every day.

Before students can do anything, they have to sign in like they would at a real job, and they sign out at the end of the period, as well. Steele conducts a safety meeting before students begin their assignments to make sure they have the appropriate gear and are wearing appropriate clothing to weld in. One of the students serves as a foreman who keeps track of everyone.

“It’s like a real job worksite. They have certain things they have to do every day, and Cameron stays in the foreman role the entire time,” Steele said.

Cameron Jones is a junior who will have completed 12 hours of welding courses at Franklin County CTE this semester. Over the summer he will be taking nine more hours, and next year he will take three hours of machine shop at Northwest-Shoals Community College.

“I like the work. It’s simple, and I like working with my hands,” Jones said.

As foreman, Jones keeps track of the sign-in/out sheet, walks the floor to make sure everyone is being safe and getting their work done and helps with whatever problems he can.

“If there’s something he doesn’t know, he comes and gets me, but our main goal is safety here. Even if they struggle with the other aspects, I want them to know how to be safe,” Steele said.

Students have the opportunity to earn certifications in the different types of welding they learn, like Metal Inert Gas and Tungsten Inert Gas and using 6010 and 7018 welding rods.

At the end of each year a NW-SCC representative comes to the school and gives a test for the certifications.

“It saves the students or their parents a lot of money when they take these courses during high school because we are offering these at no-cost. They can leave here with their minor or part of their major already completed,” Steele said.

Some students even participate in competitions, like Skylar Letson, who participated in the NW-SCC welding competition.

“Not just anybody can come out here and do this. It’s a learning experience. You have to be able to read blueprints and things like that,” Letson said.

Steele said a couple of his students are even working part time at local businesses.

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