ATLANTA, Ga. – An instructor and his students in the welding program at Northeast Community College met with industry professionals in Atlanta.
John Knapp and the students attended Fab Tech, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event held at the World Congress Center. The event offered three full-days of exhibits, education programs and valuable networking opportunities and is highly regarded as the industry’s leading forum for those involved in the metal fabrication industry.
Knapp also participated in a panel discussion with other industry and education professionals on welding competitions. He shared Northeast’s experiences in the Nebraska and national SkillsUSA competitions over the past several years. Students in the welding program have performed well at the events. Northeast welding student Hunter Howard, Meadow Grove, placed second overall in the 2022 National SkillsUSA competition.
The SkillsUSA national welding competition is extremely competitive with contestants from both two-and four years colleges and universities. Northeast is among the schools that offer a nine-month program.
During the panel discussion, Knapp shared that competitions create opportunities, experiences, lifelike situations, prizes, scholarships, qualifications and jobs, however, they are not for everyone. He said participants have to have the passion and desire to want to compete.
“This is our sport,” Knapp said.” Hunter will tell you he just won a chunk of metal, but he also understands that it commemorates an accomplishment in his life. The student who won was from Pennsylvania College of Technology, affiliated with Penn State. Third place was a student from a New Mexico community college. For those that don’t make the podium, so what. You accepted the challenge and learned from it. If you don’t fail or don’t want to continue learning about the trade, you’ve probably stopped improving. Healthy competition builds confidence.”
Howard now has the opportunity to compete in the world Skills competition later this year if he chooses to compete.
Fab Tech allowed the Northeast students to see the latest innovative solutions in the industry, develop their technical skills and expand their knowledge of best practices in the welding industry. American Welding Society Nebraska – Section 81, District 16 helped finance the students’ trip to Georgia.
Knapp encourages students who choose to be in the welding industry to attend Fab Tech at least once. He said industry representatives who attended the conference understand there is a skills gap and shortage.
“Just about every booth at the show hammered that point to the students,” he said. “They know welding is an essential skill and by attending students get a better understanding that welding exists in almost everything they own. They also understand that welding must create jobs just to hold the world together.”
Knapp said the AWS Nebraska Section 81 Board of Directors has placed an emphasis on welding training and assisted with the lodging and food expenses during the conference.
Northeast students who attended Fab Tech were Logan Arnold, Kearney; Andy Knapp, Crofton; Emma Green, Ewing; Trevor Vodicka, McCool Junction; Brandon Stephenson, Central City; Andrew Pearson, Wayne; Hunter Glinsmann, Hampton; Evan Peterson, Omaha; and Wendy Gonzalez, South Sioux City.
Students in Northeast’s welding program learn how to perform modern welding processes on the latest equipment. Through classroom and shop application, they are taught the processes for gas and arc welding, inert-gas arc welding, and continuous wire production welding and a background in metallurgy, blueprint interpretation, and mathematics.
The program prepares them for an entry-level production welding or job shop employment. They also have the opportunity to test for and receive AWS certification.
John Knapp, welding instructor at Northeast Community College, (second from right) joins other education and industry professionals to speak on welding competitions during a panel discussion at Fab Tech, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event in Atlanta. Some Northeast welding students also attended Fab Tech to see the latest innovative solutions in the industry, develop their technical skills and expand their knowledge of best practices in the welding industry.