North Platte Community College recently completed renovations to update and expand its welding program.
The project was made possible with $399,861 in grant monies from the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. This grant was awarded to Mid-Plains Community College in October 2011 and will continue through September 2014.
"These funds have been used to support updates in industry technologies, curricula, faculty skills, and training facilities to reflect best practice for welding and worker safety," said Bonnie Kruse, Area Grants Coordinator. "The renovations to improve safety and increase the industry-relevance of welding instruction will have ongoing positive outcomes for MPCC students for years to come."
New equipment in the college's welding department includes 12 permanent and two portable WeldStations; two portable exhaust systems; a cold saw; a weld bend tester; a drill press; two large toolboxes; two industrial-strength ceiling fans; upgrades on the plasma cutter; and numerous smaller items. Additionally, two grinding rooms with two new grinders, four stations, and updated filtration systems were added in the welding areas.
According to Bruce Dowse, Area Dean of Outreach and Training, one of the best features of the project is the filtration system of the new WeldStations, which not only purifies the air, but also helps to control the room temperature more efficiently.
"This helps with noise, with pollution, and with safety," he said.
He is also pleased with the wide variety of welders that are now available for students to train on.
"These multi-process welders give students the opportunity to try TIG, MIG, and Arc welding," he said, adding, "Once they finish welding, our new bend tester easily and effectively tests the weld to make sure it meets certification qualifications. This enhances the safety of the weld."
Another notable addition to the department is the Scotchman Cold Saw, a circular saw designed to produce fast, burr-free cuts without heat or sparks.
"The cooler temperature of the cold saw allows students to cut large materials with a very slow-action, precise cut," he said.
Dowse was quick to give credit to NPCC Electrical Technology Instructor Jake Elmshaeuser and his students for their assistance in upgrading the electrical wiring in the department to ensure its compatibility with all the new equipment. He also noted that Ike Nickerson, former NPCC Electrical Technology Instructor, was instrumental in coordinating the entire process.
"And it HAS been a process," Dowse said with a laugh. "Far more planning, research, preparation, and effort went into this project than meets the eye. We faced a lot of challenges along the way, but the payoff is that we now have more modernized facilities that will ultimately help us better train our students and railroad employees to meet industry needs."
Dowse invited the public to come out and see the changes at an Open House from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, in room 405 on NPCC's North Campus. For more information, contact Dowse at (308) 535-3605 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.