A Collaborative Approach to Expanding Nondestructive Testing Education within a Welding Program
This project aims to address the growing unmet need for skilled technicians in nondestructive testing. Nondestructive testing is used to test the safety of structures, vehicles, or vessels using technologies such as ultrasound and X-ray analysis. Nondestructive testing technicians help U.S. vessel, vehicle, pipeline, and infrastructure industries meet quality and safety assurance requirements, thus preventing injury or loss of life. The shortage of workers in nondestructive testing results from both high industry demand and a shortage of training programs. Consequently, the project proposes to develop a new Associate of Applied Science degree program and two specialized certificate programs in nondestructive testing. This curriculum has the potential to increase the capacity of educational institutions to provide classroom training leading to American Society for Nondestructive Testing Level II certification. Activities will also be developed that promote diversity in high technology careers by focusing recruitment efforts on high school students and incumbent workers from groups that are not yet well represented in this employment sector.
Innovative aspects of the curriculum will include: (1) a focus on weld testing, with an integration of nondestructive testing and welding curricular content in the AAS degree program; and (2) alignment with American Society for Nondestructive Testing certification standards to ensure the highest quality of preparation for graduates. The project's objectives are to: (1) develop curricula for radiographic testing and ultrasonic testing certificates that lead to fulfillment of American Society for Nondestructive Testing Level II classroom requirements; (2) to align the two certificates and the associate's degree program to create flexible academic pathways for students; (3) to enhance student learning with new equipment for teaching radiographic testing and phased array ultrasonic testing; and (4) to recruit and enroll high school students and incumbent workers in the new pathways to earning nondestructive testing credentials. A research study will add new knowledge regarding the effectiveness of the recruitment activities, including activities introduced in a summer camp and in a dual enrollment welding curriculum. The project evaluation will examine the effectiveness and impact of industry relationships, curriculum development, use of new equipment, and recruitment activities, with regard to the intended learning outcomes and alignment with the needs of students and employers. This project can provide a model for career and educational pathways in nondestructive testing that other colleges may replicate or adapt.