The Fullerton College welding depart began spending the $1 million it received last semester by purchasing new and replacement equipment that will further help students in their careers.
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva presented the $1 million to the welding department on Oct 4, 2018. She stated at the event that the funds were a critical investment in Orange County and California’s future workforce and economy.
Welding professor Brendon Kirby worked alongside professor Jordan Maxwell and department coordination Will Daniel to compile the list of items to purchase with the $1 million. Kirby went through the welding program at Fullerton College and was in the field for a decade prior to coming back to teach.
“Anytime we have access to some funding it’s extremely exciting for me. Historically there has been a shortage of financing for programs like ours,” Kirby said.
The department has segmented ordering into stages. Once the first order has been completed and delivered the second will be submitted by Kirby.
The first round included a five-year subscription to the American Welding Society’s digital library. The American Welding Society develops the codes, standards and specifications that guides welders in the field.
The Welding Journal’s monthly publication is also included in the digital subscription. Access will be available for both faculty and student use for the next five years.
Also, in the first order is new gas tungsten arc welders. There are currently two broken stations that cause students to share more of their time between welders during class. Once the welders arrive, they will be installed and students will have more time on the machines to improve their skills.
“It’s expensive equipment, those machines are over $10,000 each. We can’t do that without a huge chunk of funding like this,” Kirby said.
In the next round of ordering, new gas metal arc welding equipment will be ordered. These will also replace machines in stations that are either outdated or broken. This replacement will bring all welders into working condition. Additionally, new fabrication equipment such as a bandsaw and air compressor will be ordered.
Kirby stated that a list of needed equipment was initially started for the Strong Workforce program. Strong Workforce is a state program that provides funding to schools training skilled workers across the state.
Funds from the Strong Workforce program have purchased supplies for student competitions. Fullerton will participate in the state level SkillsUSA welding competition at the end of April.
At the regional competition Fullerton students took all three spots on the podium in the Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) competition. Fullerton also participated in the Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) competition and finished in 1st and 2nd place.
The $1 million will be used in combination with the Strong Force funding will provide enough to purchase everything on current the list.
A possible future purchase includes is a mobile outreach vehicle. This customized vehicle would allow for easier setup and more frequent off campus demonstrations to prospective welding program students.
“American manufacturing is the bedrock of our economy, and students with the technical skills learned in this department will find a wide variety of manufacturing opportunities and technical positions in today’s job market,” Quirk-Silva added.
The American Welding Society stated that there will be a shortage of 291,000 skilled welders by the year 2020. This predication is based on the need for skilled welders within a variety of job categories including pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and fabricators.
“The shortage, it’s already here. There is already a huge demand for welders in all fields,” Kirby said.
Updated on April 18 at 11:57 a.m. to state it was a budget allocation.