Investment brings success for welding students

Published 4:35 pm Monday, April 25, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Editor’s note: First names only have been used for students at the request of the school.

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Students willing to invest the time needed to learn the skills excel in the welding program at LeCroy Career Technical Center.

While learning to weld can be challenging at first, those who stick with it often find success and scholarships for further training

“This is a great workplace environment,” Bryant, a senior in the program and president for his welding class, said. “It is a simulated workforce environment, so we come in everyday, we have a safety meeting and then we get started. Everyone gets on their jobs and tries to get stuff done.”

There are a few group projects, but a lot of independent projects. Some of these require building a metal object to the specifications of a customer.

A career presentation in eighth grade gave Bryant his first glimpse into welding as a profession.

“I thought it would be something I liked,” Bryant said.

He tested this idea by taking the night welding class in 10th grade, the same year he would need to apply to a program at LeCroy if he wanted to attend.

Instructor Daniel Gilliland said he likes to choose students who show they are willing to put in the effort and have an interest for the program. He said students have to be committed to investing the time in learning how to do each weld in order to excel in the program.

“I’m impressed with these guys,” Gilliland said of his students.

Learning mig, tig and stick welding with no prior experience can be challenging, Bryant said. Students learn to use cutting torches, plasma cutters and, new for this year, a computer operated torch as well as how to read blueprints and the fundamentals of layout and design.

Mason, who is a senior in the program and vice president for his class, said Bryant introduced him to welding, and “I fell in love with it ever since.”

For Eli, it was the potential to have a good job opportunity after high school that drew him to the program.

“I have enjoyed the people around me,” Mason said. “Mr. Gilliland is a great guy. He does a lot for us.”

The projects have been the most enjoyable part of the class for Bryant because they are relevant to “real life situations and real life on the job training.”

“It’s one of the hardest things you will do in this class, but it is also one of the things that will prepare you the most,” Bryant said.

This preparation is paying off as several students in the LeCroy program, including Bryant and Mason, have done well in competitions held by Tulsa Welding School in Florida earning partial scholarships.

The school takes seven months to complete. Bryant said attending the out of state school will help him get an idea of whether he would prefer to travel for his job or stay closer to Chilton County.

Having welding skills has allowed Mason to start making money as a side business.

Students are divided into a morning class and an afternoon class. Some come back for the night class offered to the community to get extra experience.

Having student leadership helps the students develop good communication skills.

“Being the president comes with certain responsibilities making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to do, making sure the shop is running smoothly,” Bryant said.

When students want to see improvements for the shop or to hold an event, they go to Bryant, who will present the idea to instructor Daniel Gilliland and the two other class officers.

Eli said the safety meetings focus on the importance of wearing the correct protective gear.

Students in the LeCroy program have the opportunity to complete the requirements for American Welding Society certification and OSHA 10 certification.