$10 Million Grant to Fund Mobile Welding Classrooms

Dothan, AL - At a time when many college graduates are struggling to find work, welding students like Will Query know that won’t be an issue.

“Jobs were there. It was something I really liked to do. I just wanted to keep going from high school to college and build a stronger foundation,” he said.

In fact, welding has been named a Hot Job in Alabama and about 90 percent of graduates find work.

Wallace Community College, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, Chipola College, Northwest Florida State College, and Pensacola State College formed the Alabama Florida Technical Employment network.

The group received a $10 million federal grant to develop mobile welding classrooms.

This is an opportunity to fill a workforce need.

“We’ll be able to reach business and industry that maybe could not afford to do otherwise. We can take them and put them on site, and the units will be self supporting,” said instructor Joe Johonson.

The units will be built out of semi trucks and will have traditional welding units, simulators, or a combination of both giving students access to the latest in technology.

While watching students use the simulators, you can’t help but notice it really resembles a video game. Instructors do point out, it doesn’t make it any easier. It just puts students on the fast track.

“It just speeds up time. Instead of having to take a whole day to do each little thing I can knock out like a whole week’s worth of work in one day,” said Query.

Johnson said, “It helps expidite the process. There is no smoke, there is no preparing metal a student can spend more time on task as far as welding. If they have problems, they can correct those problems quicker and move back into the traditional lab.”

The starting pay for a welder is about $16 an hour.

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