Welding schools are continually looking for ways to attract and retain students as the industry struggles with a skills shortage. One way schools can help new welders develop their skills faster is by choosing equipment and consumables that are reliable and easy to use.
At two thriving welding schools in Texas, their programs are built on foundations of experienced instructors, ample hands-on time in the welding lab, and equipment and consumables that students will encounter once they enter the industry. Tulsa Welding School (TWS) is the nation’s largest welding school, with campuses in Houston, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Jacksonville, Florida. Blinn College District launched its two-year welding degree program in 2016 on the Brenham and Bryan campuses with 23 students. Four years later, enrollment is nearly 140 students.
|At Tulsa Welding School (TWS) and Blinn College District, their programs are built on foundations of experienced instructors, ample hands-on time in the welding lab, and equipment and consumables that students will encounter once they enter the industry.|
“We’ve got to keep our equipment up with the latest in technology. We’ve got to know that we’re meeting industry standards,” says Dickie Jones, welding program manager at Blinn College. “I can't use 10-year-old technology to train with when they walk out into the field or go to a fabrication shop after graduation and everything is new.”
Durability and consistency are also important — especially in a learning environment where machines might run for 10 to 12 hours a day or more.
“I have 316 welding booths out there and 316 students welding. I cannot have a welding machine go down. I depend on reliable products,” says Casey Stafford, regional director of facilities for Tulsa Welding School and Technology Center, the Houston campus of Tulsa Welding School.
Multiprocess machines are used in most of the schools’ welding booths to make it easier for students to switch back and forth between processes as they train. The schools want equipment and consumables that help students save time while also delivering versatility.
Both Tulsa Welding School and Blinn College rely on Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Welding Guns, Bernard Centerfire™ Consumables, Miller® welding equipment and Hobart® filler metals in their labs.
Lightweight MIG welding guns
Instructors and students at TWS and Blinn College like how comfortable and lightweight the Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Welding Guns feel compared to other guns they have used. That helps keep them comfortable and able to weld longer.
|Instructors and students at TWS and Blinn College like how comfortable and lightweight the Bernard Semi-Automatic MIG Welding Guns feel compared to other guns they have used. That helps keep them comfortable and able to weld longer.|
“They’re not too big and bulky. The lighter the gun can be, that’s great for a welder because you might weld for 10 or 12 hours a day. I don’t have to worry about my arm getting too tired,” says TWS welding instructor Greg Langdon. “The students really loved them when we first tried them.”
Having a lightweight gun is especially important when welding out of position or overhead.
“If you’re welding in an uncomfortable position, it’s just easier because the gun is lighter,” says Jesus Otero, Blinn welding student.
Blinn student James Anderson immediately noticed the difference between the lightweight Bernard MIG guns he uses in class and the heavier welding guns he uses at his part-time welding job.
“The Bernard guns are so easy to work with. I can weld overhead with them,” Anderson says. “I have heavy guns at work that are hard to maneuver and if they get tangled up, you can’t move it how you want it.”
Long-lasting and easy to maintain
The overall durability of the gun is important in a classroom environment, where students who are just learning may experiment with parameters and push the equipment.
“I want something solid that’s going to be there for me for years,” says John McGee, Blinn College welding instructor. “The Bernard series is just a no brainer.”
The schools are also using Bernard Centerfire Consumables with the Bernard MIG welding guns. They’ve found the Centerfire Contact Tips to be extremely long lasting — reducing the time and money spent on tip changeover.
“We don't buy near as many consumables as we did in the past. The tips are very heavy duty from the standpoint of just long, long hours of use,” says John McGee, a welding instructor at Blinn College. “It’s a classroom setting — these things can take crazy amounts of abuse.”
|The schools are using Bernard Centerfire Consumables with the Bernard MIG welding guns. They’ve found the Centerfire Contact Tips to be extremely long lasting — reducing the time and money spent on tip changeover.|
Plus, instructors are able to diagnose potential problems faster when students ask for help. Less experienced welders may not have the tip snug in the housing — but they may think it’s a machine malfunction instead of installation error. With the Bernard Centerfire Consumable System, it’s easy to uncover this issue.
“I need to be able to diagnose problems quickly. Is it operator error? Is it a setting that’s wrong? Does the tip need to be replaced?” McGee says. “But on the Bernard Centerfire stuff, as long as the nozzle is tight and everything else is in there, I don’t have to dismantle the whole thing to check every little piece of the puzzle.”
McGee was so impressed that he changed every gun in the Blinn lab to Centerfire Consumables.
“The Centerfire series is so user friendly that I actually bought conversion kits and changed all our non-Bernard gear over to Bernard consumables,” he says.
Successful welding education
While Tulsa Welding School and Blinn College offer students different models of welding education, the programs share plenty of similarities.
Experienced instructors with a desire to pass on welding knowledge to the next generation; plenty of hands-on training time in the lab; and reliable, easy-to-use equipment and consumables are fundamentals for both programs in training the next generation of welders.
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