$300,000 will go to expand current program.The California Community College’s Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) program recently awarded the College of the Canyons welding technology department approximately $300,000 in Industry Driven Regional Collaborative (IDRC) grant funds to help develop a series of metal fabrication courses at the college.
The grant — which includes funding for new equipment and supplies, curriculum development, faculty training and industry outreach efforts — will allow COC to expand its current welding technology program to include both an associate in science degree and certificate of achievement program in metal fabrication in the future.
“We’ve been training great welders at COC for several years now, but often times our graduating students are lacking the metal fabrication skills that give them that one-two punch needed for working in several different welding industries,” said Tim Baber, chair of the COC welding technology department. “This grant expands the opportunities for students to learn the whole package, welding and metal fabrication, and really puts them in a position to earn more money as an entry level technician.”
Metal fabrication is a term used to describe the process that involves the construction of machines and structures from various raw materials, usually based on engineering drawings and involving various metal-working processes — including drilling, stretching, machining, bending, rolling, cutting and welding. Used extensively in the commercial and defense manufacturing industries, metal fabrication technologies are also increasingly being utilized by the motor sports, construction, entertainment and petrochemical industries, to name a few.
“To work as a welder, you’re basically an operator with a torch in your hand welding. But if you’re in a metal fabrication position and somebody gives you a blueprint and says ‘build this thing’ you’re going to be cutting the metal, shaping it, rolling it and doing just about anything else you can imagine to create or build the finished product,” Baber said.
Set to debut this fall, the course, Welding 092: Intro to Metal Fabrication, is the first of three new metal fabrication courses recently approved by the California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office and offered to COC students.
Designed to include basic metal fabrication skills training, the course will involve measuring, layout, drilling, bending, shaping, cutting and machining alloys of all different types into various shapes and sizes — with additional focus on the cutting and fitting of metal pipe.
In subsequent semesters, Welding 093: Intermediate Metal Fabrication, and Welding 094: Advanced Metal Fabrication, will further development the student’s fabrication skills, with exposure to the industry’s sophisticated metal cutting/machining equipment, before challenging students with a complex semester-long collaborative project involving design, layout, machining, fabrication and other specific welding technology skills and operations.
“The overarching idea is to provide training to build skill sets so students can work in several different metal fabrication industries,” Baber said.
The COC Welding Technology metal fabrication option was developed in direct response to the projected growth in the metal fabrication and welding segment of Southern California’s economy and the growing need for technicians with advanced metal fabrication skills, as expressed by regional industry.
In a 2001 survey of more than 220 key manufacturers and metal fabricators, the number one concern cited was the lack of trained metal fabrication technicians and welding operators. Since then, the shortage of welding and metal fabrication technicians has become more severe — prompting the American Welding Society to predict a possible shortage of more than 200,000 skilled welders and metal fabricators by 2010.
According to California Labor Market industry projections, every major industry that uses or relies on advanced metal fabrication techniques will grow, most by double digits, between 2004 and 2014. As a result of California’s impressive industry growth, occupations as fabrication technicians and jobs that require metal fabrication skills are also projected to grow at double-digit rates, outpacing the rates of growth of those occupations nationally.
“This grant was really necessary to help put our metal fabrication program on the map,” said Baber. “We have a great reputation within the industry, but we can always raise the bar higher and that’s what this grant does. So it’s a very exciting and rewarding project to be a part of.”
For more information about the College of the Canyons Welding Technology department or the new Metal Fabrication program please contact Tim Baber at (661) 362-3062 or visit www.theatrescv.com.