Welding Department Makes Sparks


Our own Mai Nakhala sat down with Schoolcraft’s welding instructor Coley McLean to find out what makes the welding department one of the hottest spots on campus

By Mai Nakhala, Photo Editor

Tell us about the Welding Program, what the program offers?
This is my fourth year here but I taught at Washtenaw Community College for 16 years
we made a lot of changes since I got here, we had to redo the whole curriculum, to make it more industry base, so we increased the credit hours by 120 and increased the class sizes, I was able to get permission and get an internship started so the students actually build 5 more workstations, we were the first college to start a pre-apprenticeship certificate, so were the first college to develop that type of program
In my first year here, we made this a test facility, so we can certify welders, so we are the only facility in Michigan that require the students to be certified to graduate, so they can walk out with real credentials. We can also certify the community so since I’ve been here, we already certified over 200 certification and over 60 from industry so we’re giving back to the community in that respect.
We have done a lot of changes, we can say that we’ve got 100% employment rate it just because welding starving for people.
We can for sure find people jobs and actually we can find our students jobs after one semester.
We have six part-timers now, we only had one before so we’re growing.
Our graduation rate has gone up tremendously because we offered more classes as before they were limited, so now we are really 7 days a week, we here all the time, morning, afternoon and evening.

Our students are mainly focused in structural welding we do all aspects and they still do a lot of inspection so there is a lot of money on that, metal energy is still big part of what we do, our students actually get a well diverse understanding of welding, also the hands on which actually makes us unique in that respect.
We also involved in the skills USA competition, we do that annually it is usually on April. We usually placed at least second and third.
What’s the average salary for welders?
It is starting out from 10 and up to 20 per hour, usually the graduates are the one who will make higher money, and all depends on the person because everyone have different skills.
We also have a good partnership with the local unions, we have a partnership with the iron workers so if they actually get their degree here then they can start off in that Union trade at a higher level is it by having that background we also have an articulation with a 4-year so Pentek is where we are sending our students who are going for 4 years, because welding engineering is huge right now.
Welding engineering technology so required and the experience is not required, just the education because they are starving for welding engineers.
Are there any skills students should already have, if they wish to enroll in welding programs?
We start everybody out from scratch, but it will be helpful if they know basic math and take measures, some science, communication skills and work ethics. The way we teach work ethics is to give certain amount of tasks that they have to accomplish, because that what they will do in the real world so we overloading them and also make them responsible for the work, we have objective sheets and they have to be in charge of their sheets so if they lose their sheets, they lost everything they’ve done and they have to start over, showing up on time is important, so you got to do your job and to be proactive.
If you are building bridge you don’t want it to collapse and don’t want it to be too short, we also incorporate everything in welding, English and science, technical writing, students have to write reports on their welds, I always tell the students anytime you write something on paper, you already worth more money because you are not the production person anymore, we are using a lot of technology we are using welding apps in our classes, report apps and inspection apps.

Are there any continuing education classes offered?
We don’t offer continuing education because we are maxed out, we don’t have the space and time but we do have a lot of workforce training for industries, so industries will call us and we can make customized training programs for them.
We also offer class Weld110, which is a basic level class, you don’t have to have any background and it will count toward the program, it is a really good class to introduce students that has no background, Weld110 is included as elective in many programs, it is a really great into class.
We also have students from high school up to super retired, we have really diverse group