A top-notch welder or metal fabricator uses fire, oxygen, water, and the earth’s ore to shape vehicles, bridges, skyscrapers, aircraft, ships, and other wonders of modern civilization. Machine Tool operators and machinists create precision-crafted materials both great and small that drive the mechanized world.
The next generation of these technical troubadours will include the first class of students from Sullivan Central High School to earn their technical certificates in Combination Welding from Northeast State this spring.
“Most people don’t know how much technical skill goes into welding,” said student Matt Baker. “It requires a lot of math to get correct measurements. You can’t just show up in the shop and play around.”
The Welding/Metal Fabrication dual enrollment students are: Baker, Connor Couch, Travis Franklin, Samuel Cole Hutchens, Christian Lee, Richard Poore, Bradley Matney, and J.W. Rutledge. The Welding/Metal Fabrication curriculum focuses on the development of knowledge and skills in Oxy-fuel welding, brazing and cutting, plasma arc cutting and carbon arc cutting, Flux-Core Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, (MIG), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG), and Shielded Metal Arc Welding.
Baker and his classmates from Sullivan Central entered the dual enrollment program during their junior years of high school. They took dual enrollment classes at both their high school and Northeast State at Blountville. The welding cohort completed 8 college classes totaling 27 college credit hours and the machining cohort completed 9 college classes totaling 33 college credit hours.
Sullivan East High School dual enrollment students participating in the CNC/Machine Tool program are: Trevor Baker, Christopher Booher, Jacob Gourley, Logan King, Kyler Harley, Travis Justice, Austin Litton, Preston O’Dell, James O’Neal, and Joshua Rouse.
“I had an opportunity to do dual enrollment and wanted to see what I was all about,” said O’Dell. “It teaches you to take your time and do things right.”
Both Welding/Metal Fabrication and Machine Tool students classroom study, math, and the practical applications of the welding laboratory. Math meets metal in the welding and machining shops where instructors track the progress of students.
“While in high school, these students have completed a rigorous program of study that not only prepares them to enter the workforce, but also is completely embedded in an Associate’s degree program at Northeast State. said Chelsea Rose, director of Career and Technical Education at Northeast State. “Some of the students even took additional dual enrollment classes and will graduate from high school with 47 college credit hours, leaving them only one semester away from earning their Associate’s degree.”
With Northeast State’s spring commencement held May 10, Travis Franklin noted the class would be getting their college certificates before their high school diplomas were awarded on May 19. He praised both his high school and college instructors for their guidance during the program.
“It is a great facility to learn with and the teachers really care about the students learning here,” said Franklin. “The skills you can learn at this facility are amazing.”
Samuel Cole Hutchens became interested in welding during middle school. Like many of his classmates, Hutchens referenced family members who had forged successful careers in welding as influences in their decision to pursue the occupation. Their skill and advice compelled him to take welding in high school and join the dual enrollment program.
“You’ve got to put all your effort into it,” said Hutchens. “You’ve got to make the use of your time in the shop and put in the hard work.”
As one of many high school students trying to figure out a direction in life, Christian Lee said the Welding program completely changed his focus and academic pursuits. His said dedicating himself to the work helped raise not only his overall grade point average but his desire to succeed in college and beyond.
“When I dedicated myself to the dual enrollment program, my grades went up and everything clicked for me,” said Lee. “I had a lot of growing up to do and realized you’ve got to make something of yourself.”
Courses such as Welding Blueprints help students understand geometric construction and welding symbols to follow blueprints submitted by project architects. Students dedicate themselves to learning the difference between groove welds and a fillet weld with considerable hands-on work in the College’s welding laboratory.
Connor Couch said his brother had a MIG welding machine that he became familiar with before he entered high school. He echoes the sentiments of his classmates by advising high school students to pursue welding education with diligence.
“If anyone is interested in learning I’d recommend they give it a try and put all their effort into becoming skilled at welding,” said Couch. “If they commit to doing it they can make a career out of it and a good living at it.”
The dual enrollment students received their technical certificates on May 10 during Northeast State’s spring commencement held at East Tennessee State University/Mountains State Health Alliance Athletic Center.