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Innovative technology helps SPC Welding program continue to thrive
LEVELLAND – Since its early days, South Plains College has maintained an excellent training program in welding technology. The program is designed to provide students with the fundamental skills and technical knowledge used in modern welding and metal fabrication industries. The program emphasizes hands-on training using modern welding equipment.
To ensure the continued success of the welding program, SPC recently was presented with a $134,087.94 award from Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant program. The program is administered by the State of Texas Comptroller’s office. The grant was used to purchase 15 state-of-the-art Miller PipeWorx welding systems. The equipment will provide opportunities for students to work on one of the most advanced technologies in the industry today.
“Whenever the Miller representatives presented the machines to us, they began by telling us it’s software driven,” said Pete Stracener, chairperson for Industrial Technology Department, program coordinator and professor of Welding Technology. “The advances in technology that welding has taken is exciting.”
Through the use of the PipeWorx welding system, productivity will be three times faster than other welding processes which results in increased productivity and less rework. SPC welding students will be trained in the new Regulated Metal Deposition process and will be better prepared for the oil/gas industry, Stracener said.
“There are several oil field equipment manufacturing companies in Midland and Odessa who are putting this technology into their fabrication processes,” he said. “They are looking for people who can operate these machines.”
During the 1970s oil boom, the opportunities for welders were abundant and SPC had more than 30 students in the program, including Stracener. The college had a 3,600 square-foot facility with 15 welding stations.
“It’s always been up and down with the oil field because of the economy,” said Stracener.
When Stracener became a part time instructor in 1980, the oil boom was declining. SPC moved its welding program from what is now the Communications building to its present location on the south side of campus.
The current building, which has 12,000 square feet, is designed and built specifically for welding training. It includes a classroom, test lab, tool room and 10,000 square feet of lab space. The lab is equipped with 59 welding stations that can be used for shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, flux core arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding.
SPC’s Welding Technology program offers a one-year basic welding processes certificate, a two-year advanced welding processes certificate (which includes pipe welding) and an associate degree, which is often necessary for employment with large companies.
Currently, there are 145 welding students throughout the SPC campuses. To meet the Comptroller’s office requirements for the grant, 151 students will be trained on the Miller PipeWorx equipment in 2014-15.
WELDING TECHNOLOGY TRAINING – South Plains College recently received delivery of 15 Miller PipeWorx welding systems. The purchase was made possible through a $134,087.94 grant from the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant program. Shown are, from left, Cody Lane of Plainview, Roy Perez of Levelland, Travis Zumwalt of Lubbock and Benjamin Rollo of Lubbock. (SPC Photo/Wes Underwood)