The Welding Technology Program at Ashland Community and Technical College accommodates working students with three shifts of classes that start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 5:00 a.m.
"Our students learn the skills needed for high-wage, high demand jobs," said Professor Curtis Bowman, Welding Program Coordinator. "We accommodate the students who work different shifts by offering morning, afternoon-evening and midnight classes."
Welding classes are offered to cover the different materials such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum and a variety of metal alloys that require different types of welding materials, tools and techniques. These include SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) and GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding).
Student Ethan Fultz took midnight classes so he could work a construction job during the day. The Ashland resident and 2010 Boyd County high School graduate started in welding to learn a skilled trade that would give him a wide variety of job opportunities. "I had heard good things about the program and wanted to get a certificate that would get me in the door for a good job."
"I had never welded before, but they teach you everything you need to know," Fultz said. "After 18 months I've learned enough to pass the hardest pipe welding test, and now Im ready to graduate." He wants to work in an industrial setting, such as a refinery or railroad shop.
ACTC students learn how to work in a variety of work settings by learning different welding techniques required for different kinds of projects. The hands on-program includes training experience with a virtual welder that can simulate stick, gas metal arc, and flux core welding. Students learn to set up properly and make quality welds safely before working with the real materials. The virtual display provides immediate feedback on the students welding techniques as well as quality of the welds.
Franklin Furnace resident Dave Pospishil started college in Ohio without having a field in mind. A friend told him about the program and he enrolled after visiting the campus and talking to the instructors. "I wanted something to provide better for my family and I wanted something hands-on. I didnt want to be working in an office."
"The welding midnight shift worked for me since I was working days as a mechanic," Pospishil said. "This program is hands-on, and the instructors work with you to make sure you're learning what you need to know. He will graduate next may with an Associate in Applied Science Degree and would like to become a welder apprentice."
ACTC offers a Combination Welder Diploma and nine certificates. One of the certificates, the popular Evening Pipeline Welder Certificate, is offered in partnership with Plumbers amp; Steamfitters Local Union 248.
Graduates are qualified to work in boiler-making, pipe-fitting, ironworking and marine welding trades as well as in a variety of manufacturing jobs that require welding skills.
Employers of ACTC graduates have included Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 248 in Ashland, Local 452 in Lexington, Local 577 in Portsmouth, Local 521 in Huntington, Boiler Makers Local 40 in Elizabethtown, Local 105 in Piketon, OH, Progressive Rail, Inc. and other local companies and contractors.
Charles McGlone started in the midnight shift and switched to evening classes to better fit his schedule. The Olive Hill resident graduated from West Carter High School in 2007 and went into the Army. Now he is looking for a career field that has a good future. "I picked ACTC because its the best program in pipefitting welding. I would absolutely recommend ACTC and the welding program. He plans to start a pipefitters apprenticeship program after graduating this semester."
"Spring semester classes start January 11 and December 28 is the application deadline. Apply online at ashland.kctcs.edu. I would tell anyone thinking about the program to do it now," said Fultz. "If you're willing to put in the time, you can get it done."