LISBON - Students at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center got a chance this week to show off the newest equipment and facilities in the welding and materials joining lab.
Superintendent Chuck Adkins said the project started because when he came to the school, he went into the welding lab, and the exhaust system actually pulled the door closed. At that point, he said he knew something had to be done to improve things. However, the project grew from his initial expectations into something incredible.
Now three times the size of the original welding lab, the facilities include 25 welding stations and metal working equipment that is either the same or of a smaller scale than what is being used in many industrial metal working plants in the area. Although not yet hanging in the facility, banners representing many local companies involved in the program will soon be hanging from the rafters, instructor Huck Hughes said.
"A lot of past students come in and say why couldn't they have done this when I was here," Hughes said. "This is state of the industry."
Local companies are donating materials to help students learn to work with the equipment. Hughes said although some of the machinery may be smaller, working with it is the same. Students need to know when they bend materials where the metal will lose and where it will gain thickness.
Besides new welding stations with a new exhaust system, students have a place where they can test their work and learn where the weaknesses are. The adult program will have a welding inspector certification program.
Additionally, the lab includes mills, lathes, a hydraulic roll press, a shearing machine and computer numeric control (CNC) machines.
Students can study in the welding and machine shop their junior and senior years of high school. Then they can come back for just one more year in the adult program. With three years of instruction, the students are ready to prove themselves and eligible for local jobs earning $20 per hour.
In addition to the traditional programs, students are part of a new project-based problem solving materials joining program happening currently in only three school state wide. Instructor Michelle Fitzsimmons said students will learn how to join glass tubing, learn robotic automation, quality control and the profitable reasons for assembly lines. Students are learning the differences between riveted joints and welding.
"We have so many kids going into welding," said Assistant Superintendent Jeremy Corbisello. "We are expanding their skill sets."
Students are learning there are more jobs than they even know exist. They are preparing for careers of the future in industrial work and possibly additional education in an engineering field.
Already, the instructors are seeing a big difference in what students are considering for their senior projects this year. They additionally hope to see a big difference in the careers for those now studying in the newest addition to the career center facilities.