ELYRIA — Steadily changing technology and greater specialization in the welding industry is fueling the need for an estimated 30,000 trained welding technicians each year, according to an industry report.
A $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help Lorain County Community College’s National Center for Welding Education and Training continue and expand its goals of educating thousands of welding technicians each year.
Known more commonly as Weld-Ed, the LCCC-based center began in 2007 with a $5 million, four-year National Science Foundation grant.
“This grant allows us to take the work we did from the first grant and expand and continue it over the next three years,” Duncan Estep, the center’s director, said Monday.
While the grant was announced Monday, LCCC officials first learned of it two weeks ago at a high-tech conference in San Francisco.
“Every year we are in competition with a large number of community colleges doing similar programs,” Estep said.
The grant will aid the college in its development of a national welding educators’ certificate program to expanded training for welding instructors in new technologies.
“The whole goal is to increase the numbers of welding technicians,” Estep said. “We’ve developed a core training program here and at 10 training regional center partners across the country.”
Future developments could include putting training programs and instruction online “to reach a broader audience,” Estep said.
Reaching a wider audience will help the Weld-Ed center to meet the escalating need for professional welders. The “National State of the Welding Industry Report,” which is published by Weld-Ed, projects a need for 238,000 new and replacement workers through 2019.
In the 2009-10 school year, Weld-Ed’s 80-plus community and technical college and university partners educated more than 4,000 welding technicians and graduated more than 1,700 students, nearly all of whom found immediate employment in welding-related positions in the automotive, shipbuilding, aerospace and mining industries, as well as the defense and energy sectors, according to the Weld-Ed center.
“Our partners tailor welding education for specific needs in different regions,” Estep said. “At the College of the Canyons in Los Angeles, there’s a big electronics base, and a big need for laser welding. Regional needs differ because they try to be suited to local industries.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.