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AC Recruiting Students For Crockett Welding Program


By Alton Porter
Courier Reporter
Calling Houston Countians of all ages who want to pursue welding careers or want to learn to weld to take on a skill that would help them operate in a profession they already have! Angelina College Crockett Center has three welding certification and degree programs, and college officials want to restrengthen the programs by filling as many classes of 12 students each as possible this fall semester which begins Friday, Aug. 28. Interested persons are encouraged to go to the center, located at 1505 South Fourth Street in Crockett, between now and Monday, Aug. 24, to register for the programs. They include a 60-semester- hour curriculum that leads to a welding associate degree, a 37-semesterhour welding technology intermediate certificate program and a 22-semester- hour welding technology basic certification course of study, according to center director Ramona Boodoo Frye. The intermediate and basic certification programs give students the opportunity "to get their foot in the door to a job," Boodoo Frye said. "They don't take that long." She said the number of students enrolled in the center's welding program usually is large, but has dwindled a bit recently. "So, we're pushing it. We're pulling from the high schools now," she said. "We've actually asked the school counselors to give us names of juniors and seniors who are interested in the welding program so we can go ahead and pull them into the program this semester." "Welding is a great skill to know, and the program can lead to a job for them," she said. "I would like for the young students to get started in it. It's even a good thing for people who are retired. It's a good thing for them to have the skill. We're looking for anybody, everybody – women, too. There have been a couple of women who have taken the welding program." There are no summer classes in the welding program this year, but fall semester class sessions will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. in the welding lab at the center. "We have the beginning classes here (in Crockett)," Boodoo Frye explained. "And as the students get into the more advanced classes, we usually transition them over to the main Angela College campus (in Lufkin) because they have a bigger welding department over there. "(The Crockett center) is kind of like a get-a-footin- the-door kind of place. There are just so many classes (about 12) they can take here because our program is not as large. So, when we get them to the point where we don't have any more classes to offer, we advise them to speak with Troy Dale Edwards, (Angela College's lead welding instructor in Lufkin). "And we have a really great teacher (here in Crockett). His name is Jeff Pillows (who commutes from Lufkin)." In the introductory class, students learn welding fundamentals, Boodoo Frye said. "Then, they do beginning, intermediate and advanced shielded metal arc welding courses. (Shielded metal arc welding is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode covered with a flux to lay a weld.) There also are technical math and blueprint reading classes available to students to go along with the welding program." She said the first semester classes taught in Crockett give students an introduction to welding and the opportunity to see how well they like welding and whether they want to continue in the program. After the students complete a certification or degree program, they're prepared to enter the job market in welding positions, Boodoo Frye said. "It all depends on what an employer is looking for, but when they get that basic certification, I think some companies will hire them based on that. By just having that experience in welding, employers can hire them in entry-level positions." The welding program at the Angelina College Crockett Center was implemented in 2011, the year the center opened, according to Tim Ditoro, former director of the center and now the college's dean of community services in Lufkin. He said students can complete coursework for the basic certificate at the Crockett center, and classes leading to the intermediate certificate and associate degree in Lufkin. Ditoro added, a person, such as a rancher, who wants to learn basic welding skills, but doesn't want to sign up for a credit class, also is encouraged to enroll in the courses on a noncredit basis. "They get the same training," he said. "They just don't have to enroll as a credit student seeLking a certificate or degree." Dr. Gary Friery, division director of technology and workforce at Angelina College in Lufkin, said 64 different students have taken at least one welding class in the program since its start in Crockett in 2011, and 11 of them have graduated with either an associate degree or a basic or intermediate certificate. "That's about one out of every six, which is not bad," Friery said, "because a lot of students will take one or two, or three or four classes. And then, they'll go get a job. They won't wait around and keep taking classes. "They get that job and they never finish, which would have made them a better welder if they had kept taking those classes in the evening. But, once they get that paycheck coming in, they don't care about that education anymore. Too, with some of them, life happens. They get married and have to take another job. Things just happen. But, 11 out of 64, that's good."


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