Industrial Education

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Anything made of metal, no matter how big or small, can be welded. Examples are everywhere, from vehicles like cars, trucks and motorcycles to rail cars, ships, aircraft, rockets and space stations. Construction is a huge market, and skyscrapers, bridges and highways would be impossible to build without welding, as would oil and natural-gas pipelines, offshore oil platforms, giant wind turbines and solar panels. Welders help install and maintain boilers, antipollution systems and other large structures, as well as piping for industrial, commercial and residential facilities. Welding is even used by artists to create sculptures and decorative items.

There is almost no limit to what welding can do, especially since developments in the technology continually improve its accuracy, quality and versatility. Welding is, in fact, an increasingly high-tech skill. Welders are being trained to operate robots and other automated systems that use powerful lasers, electron beams and sometimes explosives to bond metals. The ability to work with computers and program software is consequently vital to the successful operation of these systems.

Don Howard, a welding specialist at Concurrent Technologies Corp., an engineering firm in Johns town, Pa., estimates that 20%-25% of U.S. welding is automated and predicts this trend will grow by about 20% in the next few years.

“A lot of very intelligent people are coming into the welding community,” says Howard. There is money to be made, he notes, but the industry also offers career paths. “Welding is not just about working on a manufacturing line anymore. Once in the industry, people know they can find a niche.”

“These are good times to be in welding,” says Patricio Mendez, director of the Canadian Center for Welding and Joining at the University of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Mendez notes that students who like designing and building with metal and are interested in fields such as materials engineering, robotics,...
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