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Welding class inspires

Two students to strive for associate’s

by: Photo By Joe McHaney - Elmer Felix adjusts a welding maching during Central Oregon Community College welding class.

Sparks were flying at the Madras High School shop this spring on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
   As host of Central Oregon Community College's welding class, 14 students were busy learning the ins and outs of welding at the MHS shop, some of which were inspired to take additional classes this fall.
   "Things went pretty well," said Courtney Snead, who is the COCC Madras campus coordinator. "Two of the welding students indicated on an exit survey they plan to pursue an associate's degree and two want to attain their GED."
   The welding class was the first of its kind in Jefferson County thanks to collaboration by Central Oregon Community College, School District 509-J, the Partnership to End Poverty, the Jefferson County Education Council and the OSU Open Campus.
   "What we discovered is that this was a positive reflection for the Jefferson County Education Council," Snead said. "The council discovered a need in this community, and the welding class helped fill the gap. It was exciting to see our partnerships are working."
   Steve Fritts, who was the oldest student at 62, said he enjoyed the class, and working with the younger students, including some high school-aged students.
   "A lot of the younger kids had welding before and we were able to help each other out and ask and bounce questions off one another," Fritts said. "I really liked the class because it was a real learning experience."
   Fritts said he will enroll in COCC's blueprinting 101 this fall.
   "I really enjoyed the opportunity to work at my own pace and the quality of instruction available, so I want to further my education," Fritts said. "I want to re-enter the workforce and a lot of blueprint reading is required."
   The class, instructed by Tucker Bauman, focused on shielded metal arc welding, stick welding and gas metal arc welding.
   "I think a lot of the students learned how to work through issues," Bauman said. "Some of the equipment is older, and the students had to learn to adjust on the fly. I think it was good for them."
   Bauman, who has been a welding instructor at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution for nearly four years, said many of the students talked of pursuing more education in the field or related fields.
   "I think the welding class was very beneficial," Bauman said. "Everybody is different in the way they learn things, and not everyone is going to get it the first time, but we learned that being patient can go a long ways."
   A grant, obtained by the Partnership to End Poverty, also covered all personal protective equipment required for the welding class, so students did not have to purchase $400 worth of equipment for the class. Money from the grant is also available to upgrade shop equipment if needed.
   "We were hopeful for 10 students," Snead said. "We only had room for 15, so we were very happy with the enrollment for the first class."
   The spring welding class was the first of four that will be included with the grant. The next class to be offered this fall will be blueprinting 101.
   "I'm excited for the blueprinting class," Fritts said. "The welding class was great, and I think the next one will be, too."
   The project came to the table one year ago through discussions at Jefferson County Educational Council meetings. Ideas were tossed around, and welding instruction continuously came forward in discussions.
   "We talked about many ideas and welding just kept coming to the forefront," said Jennifer Oppenlander, who is the OSU Open Campus coordinator and also on the Jefferson County Education Council. "This is the start to what we hope will be many more trade classes available locally."
   For more information on upcoming welding or related classes, contact the COCC Madras campus at 541-550-4100.