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By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — Dual credit welding instructors from across the area gathered at Wellington High School Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. in the ag shop for a special training. Lester Purdham, a technical sales representative from Lincoln Electric in Irving, traveled to the panhandle for the VRTEX Engage unit instruction.
“The VRTEX Engage is a virtual reality arc welding trainer,” Purdham said. “This computer-based training system is an educational tool designed to allow students to practice their welding technique in a simulated environment. It promotes the efficient transfer of welding skills from the classroom to the welding booth, while reducing material waste and energy consumption associated with traditional welding training.
WHS instructor Drew Taylor says he received his welding certification six years ago through Clarendon College. High school students can earn 12 hours of welding credit by taking college-level classes in high school.
“Lincoln donated the virtual welding machines to Clarendon College who in turn has assigned them to each of the schools in their area that are teaching dual welding classes,” said Taylor. These machines will simulate welding without the danger and expense of actually welding in the shop. They will be used in the very beginning processes of getting students interested and excited about welding. I will use this machine in my freshman class as they are choosing classes for their sophomore year to let them see what welding is and how the process works.”
Portable and self-contained, the VRTEX Engage allows students to learn and practice SMAW (stick), GMAW (MIG) and FCAW (flux cored) welding processes according to Purdham.
“The unit has memory capacity for tracking students’ progress and is also customizable for specific parameter and tolerance settings based on the instructor’s preferences,” he said.
Michael Davis, Ph.D., CC Dean of Career, Technical and Continuing Education at its Pampa Center, says dual credit welding courses are offered at eight separate school districts within its service area. These are Clarendon, Groom, Memphis, Miami, Pampa, Panhandle, White Deer and Wellington.
“CC began offering dual credit welding in the fall 2008 semester at Childress ISD,” Davis said. “Dual credit students that complete the 12 hours during high school are awarded an Occupational Skills Certificate in Welding.”
Clarendon College does not offer an associate degree in welding, but students can earn up to four certificates in welding. These include:
– Basic Welding – Certificate of Completion in Structural Steel Welding
– General Welding Specialist – Certificate of Completion in Structural Steel Welding
– Pipe Welding Specialist – Certificate of Completion in Welding Technology
– Advanced Welding – Certificate of Completion in Advanced Welding
“CC has offered welding at most of the area high schools for over a decade depending on who we can get that is qualified at the local high schools,” said Texas D. “Tex” Buckhaults, president and chief executive officer of CC. “The college doesn’t offer an associate degree in welding but we do offer a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Certificate. Certificates are the quickest way for a student to take courses in a specific field and be able to have a career quicker.”
With brand new facilities, Memphis High School instructor Ed Bailey says he expects around 30 students to enroll in the welding and woodworking classes offered this fall.