UCC Mainstream Online

Welding program looks to expand its horizons

Jessica Powell practices her skills during a welding class at UCC. Many students have found  employment opportunities as welders in Douglas County and Oregon following graduation.
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Jessica Powell practices her skills during a welding class at UCC. Many students have found employment opportunities as welders in Douglas County and Oregon following graduation.

Umpqua Community College has several technical programs ready and waiting to help students with their future. One of the biggest yet less well-known programs is welding.

The welding program has been on campus for nearly 50 years. The Lockwood building, where the class takes place, was one of the first structures built. “It looks just the same as it did in 1975,” said Duane Thompson, part-time welding instructor at UCC.

Thompson has only been an instructor at UCC for three years. He has over 30 years of experience, including temporary employment at Job Corps, owned his own welding business for five years and also helped fix the hand railing at Holiday Inn.

Welding instructor Ian Fisher has been a full-time teacher at UCC for six years, with twelve years of experience as an instructor at Sonoma Valley High School in California and South Umpqua High School in Myrtle Creek. He also has three years of freelance welding before becoming an instructor and has been a Certified Welding Inspector for five years.

The welding program is currently a one year experience (a single nine month term), though Fisher and Thompson strongly feel that students need more time to learn. “Welding is just one skill set,” Thompson said. The jobs that involve welding also require math, writing, how to work the machines and how to read blueprints. Fisher feels that the students need more space and power, room to grow with the modernizing technology although they are “dealing with it [the current circumstances]” and are very proud of what they have, according to Fisher. “I like the environment I am in and so far I don’t dislike anything,” said Eric Carson, a current welding student at UCC.

The UCC welding program has been endorsed as an Educational Institution Member and utilizes American Welding Society curriculum in the form of the AWS Schools Excelling through National Standards Education program.  They currently offer this certification at the Level One entry level but hope to soon expand a second year Associates degree with more AWS certifications attached to it.  They are also targeting Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree or the second year program.

Matt Thompson, Welding Student
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Matt Thompson, Welding Student

According to Fisher, many students who started at UCC have continued on and done wonderful things with their welding knowledge. Mike Tracy, a 2011 graduate, became a fabricator and later a shift supervisor for the Portland Shipyard. Kory Dunn was placed in the 90th placement spot when he was interviewed before the UCC welding certificate, and in the 30th spot when interviewed after his UCC welding certificate, getting a job shortly after. Jim Carey has 40 years as a professional pipe welder and has worked for Chevron, BP, owned his own fabrication business, and currently works for Nordic Oil & Gas in Alaska. Gary Fredlund graduated with Thompson in 1975 and worked his way up from on the floor as a fabricator to management at Con-Vey Keystone, Inc., which includes wood/materials handling, robotics, and environmental manufacturing.

The program continues to help students acquire their dreams. “The welding program will help me in the future because my dream is always to be welding in Alaska,” Carson said.

In order to enhance the program, Fisher and Thompson hope to add components of the welding class on ANGEL, so students can watch videos and read procedures online and save physical class time for physical projects. “I truly believe that our current program is doing a great job with its one year program in preparing its graduates for work, but we could be doing much more,” Fisher said. “Honestly, I like being in class for lectures and procedures,” Carson said.

“You have to take it one weld at a time,” Thompson said, in reference to the overall welding experience.

Students or potential students interested in joining the welding program or simply looking for more information should contact Duane Thompson at dthomps9@student.umpqua.edu or Ian Fisher at ian.fisher@umpqua.edu.