Welding program focuses on industry experience

Published 8:36 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Sparks fly in the LeCroy Career Technical Center as young welders learn the trade.

Teacher Daniel Gilliland walks around the lab to inspect work and answer questions.

“Everything I do here I do based on project-based learning,” Gilliland said.

Only about 20 percent of the class time is spent in a traditional classroom. The rest is in the welding lab. The program is a part of the Alabama Simulated Workplace, which creates real-world work environments for students.

Classes are a mix of first-year and second-year students in the welding program. The courses are offered in the morning and in the afternoon to allow as many students as possible to fit it into their schedule.

Gilliland said the two biggest requirements for the class are attendance and self-discipline.

“If I can get you to show up to class and to be responsible for yourself, then I can teach you,” Gilliland said.

He said he is pleased with the students that are in the program, and they continue to surprise him with the quality of their work.

The first thing he teaches students is safety.

“Safety is our main priority,” Gilliland said.

he said he works to create a “safety culture” in the welding area.

A class president and officers are selected and Gilliland selects a student shop foreman based on skill and interest.

The foreman is always a second-year student.

Jose Guzman, who is in his second year in the program, is the afternoon class president.

“It’s nice, but at the same time it’s a responsibility, and I hope I am the right person for this responsibility,” Guzman said.

Guzman said he found welding interesting and liked it, so he joined the program. He commented he had “a really great teacher.”

Guzman plans on becoming a welder in the U.S. Marines.

This year Guzman is focused for competition.

During competition, students work individually and are judged on the resistance and precision of their welds. Students will compete at local and regional levels. Four of the best students will represent the school in the Skills USA welding competition.

Tanner Mims said enjoys the hands-on aspects of welding. He became interested in welding because of the success his grandfather had in the field. His grandfather worked as a welder for 41 years. Mims said he is focusing on getting his certification and learning OSHA standards this year. At least half of the students in the program have a family member in the industry.

Projects so far this semester have included storm drains for a local company and repairing metal trailers.

As a part of the two-year welding program, students will take the weld x-ray test for certification.

Gilliland said his first year teaching 100 percent of his students received the certification. Last year, 95 percent passed the certification. This is Gilliland’s third year teaching the program and he hopes to have 100 percent pass the test.

Local welding job possibilities include Adient and Alabama Power, Gilliland said.

Like many of his students, Gilliland’s interest in welding began because of a family member.

“My first welding job, I was nine … it was with my dad,” Gilliland said.

Later, Gilliland attended the LCTC Welding program.

“I just fell in love with the craft and everything associated with it,” Gilliland said.

Gilliland said there is “not much down time here. Everyone has a job to do.” The class outlines specific procedures, and then the students focus on projects submitted by the community. Gilliland said projects are accepted on a first come, first served basis.