Modernization of a Technical Welding Program to Better Serve Non-Traditional Students
This project will contribute to the national need for a highly skilled STEM technical workforce. It aims to do so by producing highly qualified welding technicians to satisfy workforce needs in the Advanced Manufacturing Industry in Western New York. The project focuses on the unmet need for welders and metallurgy specialists in the region, a need that is expected to increase more than 7% by 2024. This project will address this workforce need by improving an existing Associates in Applied Science in Welding Technology degree program. Improvements include relocating the welding program from an off campus vocational training center to a modernized, on-campus facility where it will be more accessible to students. The program will combine for-credit programing with non-credit certifications to produce highly trained welding technicians who are prepared for long-term careers in welding technology. These improvements are projected to double the number of students who successfully complete the program.
The project will develop a state-of-the-art welding and metal fabrication instructional lab on campus. Through the addition of this lab, as well as modification of program hours to better fit the daytime college schedule, the program intends to double its capacity and enrollment with the expectation to serve 50 students each semester. The program will host additional classes in the evenings, on weekends, and over seasonal breaks. The project will develop partnerships with area welding companies to collaboratively design course offerings and a customized curriculum with input from an Industry Advisory Council. These efforts are designed to result in a robust program that facilitates hands-on learning experiences centered on aligning student ability with employment opportunities in the field. The project will inaugurate an annual Industry Welding Day where students will showcase their work and have an opportunity to participate in open interviews with prospective employers. This unified approach is expected to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates within the Welding Technology Program, and thus increase the number of highly skilled technicians eligible for placement in welding careers. To better prepare students for successful careers in welding, faculty teaching in the welding technology program will earn Certified Welding Educator and Certified Welding Inspector credentials. These certifications will better prepare the faculty to educate students and evaluate their work.