American River College’s welding technology program, in coordination with the American Welding Society (AWS), hosted the first-ever welding expo at ARC on Saturday.
The AWS has a trailer full of welding simulators that they take around the country, and after they contacted ARC about bringing the trailer to campus, welding technology department chair Mark Reese planned an expo around it.
“We weren’t going to let an opportunity like this pass by, so I thought we should make an event out of it,” Reese said. “We got some vendors to come and set up live demos so students can get a full experience.”
Daniel Stopnick, an AWS member, said that ARC had produced many successful welders, so they thought the school could only benefit from more exposure to the industry.
“Welding is a field that is in high demand right now, so there are a ton of career opportunities,” Stopnick said. “We have a welding trailer going around the country teaching students about welding so we thought we’d bring it here.”
Echoing Stopnick’s statement on the magnitude of openings in the welding field, Reese said that students need to get started now to take advantage of the opportunity.
“The welding industry is red hot and they can’t get enough professionals,” Reese said. “In the next 10 years, there could be around 300,000 national welding jobs opening up.”
Reese expressed that he also hoped that the expo would serve as advertising for the school’s welding program.
“I want to encourage students to come out to our program, have fun and learn about the opportunities,” Reese said. “They can come in here and, through training and knowledge, find a niche to fill.”
AWS member and Sierra College assistant professor Ray Atnip stressed the importance that AWS has in the welding community.
“Our program only takes a couple of years and we offer several different certificates in the (welding) field,” Atnip said. “AWS also is responsible for upholding international standards.”
Raymond Cervantes, a representative for Tesco Controls, said that Tesco came out to the expo because they knew that would find interested students at ARC.
“(ARC) has a fantastic program. We take a lot of people from here,” Cervantes said. “I would tell (prospective students) to not be afraid, keep working, keep taking classes and seek out the information for themselves.”
Several students attended the event and some, including third semester student Jamie Ruiz, used the expo as a chance to network.
“I want to meet some of the professionals here,” Ruiz said. “(I) also want to look for scholarship (opportunities).”
Other students, like welding technology major Leo Santos, took time to enjoy the different activities available.
“The virtual welder was pretty cool and I thought I did a good job,” Santos said.
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Miranda Frank, a Lincoln Electric saleswoman and member of the Los Rios welding advisory board, said that she was constantly “blown away” by the welding students she sees at ARC.“There’s a great program here,” Frank said. “ARC has a history of developing good welders.”
Near the end of the event, Reese said that although the expo was at the moment a one-time event, he and the school hoped to recreate it in the future.