College’s welding program offers many options, opportunities

New semester at ASU Mid-South begins Jan. 19

By Don Threm ASU Mid-South

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15 percent growth in welding jobs through 2020, and Arkansas State University Mid-South is doing its part to help meet the escalating need. The college is offering 11 welding courses for the spring semester which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 19. Students will have the opportunity to take Fundamentals of Welding, Flux Core Arc Welding, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, and Introduction to Welding Fabrication. All of the courses except Welding Fabrication are available in day and evening sessions. ASU Mid-South is expanding its Welding Technology Lab by approximately 4,300 square feet to provide the best training opportunities for students in the region. The extra space will be used to mirror conditions and situations welders face on the job: pipe, confined-space, and aerial welding. “We’re calling it a ‘real-world welding fabrication’ area,” said Ed Cook, Lead Faculty for Welding Technology. “Our advisory committee encouraged us to do this to give our students an opportunity to learn by experience what it’s like in the real world. As far as I know, there’s not another school around doing this type of training.” In basic welding classes, students generally perform assignments and projects in a booth at a table. They have the opportunity to arrange their working environment to their liking. “In the real world, that doesn’t happen,” Cook pointed out. “We won’t be using booths or tables in the new fabrication area. We’re going to be teaching students how to weld while adapting to their surroundings, which aren’t always ideal.” “We’re going to have an overhead beam where students will be required to climb and weld at an awkward angle. Our goal is to make our training as real as possible so our students will be better prepared for workplace challenges.” In another exercise, students will work with a 36-inch diameter pipe that is 3-4 feet long. They will be asked to fabricate and weld inside the pipe. “That’s a situation they might see on the job,” Cook said.  Equipment costs for the project were minimal because the college secured most of what it needed through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Cook said the newest equipment is state of the art and can be networked into the lead instructor’s computer. As many as 16 different welding procedures can be programmed, and the instructor can monitor a student’s progress via computer. “It’s what industry is going to, so we’ll be able to expose our students to the newest technology,” Cook said. “You won’t find a better welding facility in this part of the country.” Part of the ASU Mid-South program is the opportunity to earn American Welding Society certification. All students who complete one of the “process” classes – shielded metal arc, gas metal arc, gas tungsten arc, or flux-core – can test for an AWS credential. In the last three years, students have passed at a 100 percent clip. “It tickles me to death,” said Cook who has 30 years of welding experience. “It’s not like welding every day; all it takes is one little piece of trapped slag, and you fail. For us to go three years and not have something like that happen is amazing.” “We’ve had really good students who take pride in what they’re learning. We’re putting out a pretty good product, and industries are calling me right and left looking for welders.” Cook said any type of certification is valuable to a potential employer. “It’s definitely a plus to have that certification. If I’m interviewing four welders, and I see this guy’s already passed the test, at least I know he knows how to do it. The other guys, if they haven’t ever passed one, I don’t know if they can really do it.” Cook said he does all he can to help students find jobs. “Every time I get a job posting or somebody calls me, I post it in the office and in the classroom so that they know how and when to apply. I get calls all the time looking for somebody who can weld. There are a lot of opportunities.” Those opportunities even extend to individuals who may have a criminal background but are now trying to make the necessary changes in their lives to improve their situations. For more information about welding or other life-changing learning opportunities at Arkansas State University Mid-South, visit the campus at 2000 West Broadway in West Memphis, call the Admissions Office at (870) 733-6728, email, or see the college’s website at Please note that the college will be closed Dec. 19-Jan. 3 for the holidays. ASU Mid-South has scheduled nearly 350 classes, labs, workshops, and seminars for the spring 2016 semester, and students who have not already enrolled still have time. Regular Registration will be held Monday, Jan. 11, 10a.m.-noon and 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. in the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the college’s South Campus.


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