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Certified: Del Oro High School Welders Look to Future


 (Rocklin, CA) Bill Wenzel, Sierra College Welding Department Chair and American Welding Society (AWS) inspector, partnered with Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA to test students for advantageous industry certification. Wenzel reported that 13 students passed the E7018 3G Vertical Up Butt Joint ARC welding certification and seven passed last year. Certification and other collaborative efforts are creating a pipeline of welding students prepared for technical careers.

"With certification, these high school students are more qualified for summer jobs," said Wenzel. "Through articulation agreements, advanced Del Oro welders also have the pre-requisites to take Welding 20 at Sierra College this fall. This Foundation of Welding Technology course is the first in the welding career path series and is open for enrollment."

 As part of the certification process, Del Oro High School Agricultural Welding instructor Mike Pahl supervised the students as they welded together two plates side-by-side. Then Wenzel reviewed the sample sections before they were put in a hydraulic bender and bent into "U" shapes. The weld at the outside of the bend, where there is the greatest stress, cannot have more than 1/8 of an inch of opening in order to pass AWS welding code.

Additionally, three students passed the 71T Dual Shield 3G Vertical Up Butt Joint certification and one student passed the 71T Overhead Dual Shield 41G Overhead Butt Joint certification. According to Pahl, students with AWS certifications have an advantage. "It proves to employers that students have the basic skills to advance," said Pahl.

 The Del Oro welding program is so popular that additional sections have been added to serve 240 students per year.  Pahl explained that the high school welding program has expanded and upgraded tools as a result of support from the Sierra College Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Collaborative.

"Through the Sierra STEM Collaborative, 50-year-old equipment was replaced with six digital dual-purpose welders that can be used for both TIG and ARC welding," said Pahl. "The college also offered professional development that connected us with other teachers, and provided support to develop new curriculum aligned with industry needs."

Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Director, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies at Sierra College (CACT), manages the Sierra STEM Collaborative. "When the college and high school faculty work together, students benefit from a coordinated education path," said Pepper-Kittredge.

 To bring more state-of-the-art welding training to high school campuses, Sierra College has built the only community college Mobile Training Center for welding in Northern California and one of a handful in the United States. The Mobile Welding Lab was funded through CACT and Career Technical Education Perkins funding.

 The mobile lab can travel to high school campuses and expose students to the latest equipment and training techniques. "By combining computers with welding technology in the mobile lab, students' speed of travel, amperage and voltage will be tracked and graphed as they weld," said Wenzel. "Working in the mobile lab, high school students can receive detailed feedback to improve their technique and prepare for certification."

 "By aligning curriculum, sharing instructional techniques and responding to industry input, college and high school faculty are increasing the number of students prepared to earn certifications and further their education at Sierra College," said Pepper-Kittredge. "As a result, more students will be able to pursue career opportunities in welding, fabrication and advanced manufacturing." 

About Sierra College STEM Collaborative

The Sierra STEM Collaborative is funded by the California Community College Chancellor's Office to create a pipeline of students interested in technical careers. Students can pursue Welding, Mechatronics, Engineering, Energy Technology and Drafting & Engineering Support at Sierra College. For information, go to or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Sierra College at (916) 660-7801.

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