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Blinn’s AAS welding instructor prepares for program expansion

Blinn prepares to expand its welding training capacity in Bryan to meet increasing demand

September 26, 2016

Dickie Jones, Blinn College’s Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) welding instructor, literally helped write the book on welding curriculum. Now he is preparing to expand Blinn College’s welding training capabilities and meet the fast-growing demand of students across the Brazos Valley.

Welder in the Blinn College AAS programFormerly the Director of Human Resources and the Training Director for Fluor Corp., the largest engineering and construction company in the Fortune 500 rankings, Jones has decades of experience in identifying the skills companies around the globe demand from professional welders. Now he is bringing that experience to Blinn College’s welding students.

According to ongoing research by the national Business Roundtable, Construction Users Roundtable, and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), there is a need for more than 181,000 welders in the U.S., as more welders leave the trade via retirement or other interests than are being replaced.

To meet the demand, Blinn College offers a 60-credit hour Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in welding technology with national recognition from NCCER, whose curriculum Jones helped develop. All welding processes are taught in accordance to welding codes established by the American Welding Society (AWS). Approximately 20 percent of the program is spent in the classroom, with the remaining 80 percent spent in hands-on instruction.

The AAS degree plan includes courses in oxy-fuel welding and cutting, shielded metal arc (stick) welding, gas metal arc (MIG) welding, gas tungsten arc (TIG) welding, and pipe welding. The program also includes a welding internship in partnership with local companies.

Students who complete the welding AAS degree graduate with 1,776 hours of specialized instruction, and meet the national standards set by NCCER and AWS.

On their way to a degree, Blinn students can earn Level I and II certificates and an occupational skills award. To earn the occupational skills award, students must complete introductory courses in oxy-fuel welding and cutting, shield metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding.

Blinn’s Level I Basic Welding Certificate includes 26 credit hours, with courses in oxy-fuel welding and cutting, shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, and blueprint reading. The Level II Welding Fundamentals Certificate requires an additional 14 credit hours, and includes courses in gas tungsten arc welding, pipe welding, and an internship course.

“Blinn’s welding courses are open to anyone, but these courses are specifically designed for individuals who plan to establish a career in welding or upgrade their current skills,” Jones said. “If you complete the AAS program, you will have achieved highly marketable skills that prepare you for most employment qualification tests, and will hold nationally recognized industry credentials.”

For students interested in non-credit welding training opportunities, Blinn offers courses in shielded arc metal, gas metal arc, gas tungsten arc, and pipe welding. Non-credit students can earn 120-hour certificates in shielded metal arc, gas metal arc, and gas tungsten arc welding, and earn a 420-hour welding technology certificate that includes the shielded metal arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding certificates, plus a 60-hour pipe welding course.

Welders often earn between $20 and $25 per hour, and with plenty of overtime opportunities available, skilled workers can earn between $70,000 and $80,000 per year.

“The more procedures you can weld in, the more money you can earn,” Jones said. “If you can only perform stick welding, you won’t earn as much as the welder who can perform stick and TIG welding. Our program ensures that each graduate has the well-rounded skills base to maximize their earnings potential.”

To meet increased demand, Blinn plans to expand its welding training capabilities with the addition of seven new welding booths at its Highway 60 Training Center, located at 5503 Raymond Stotzer Parkway. Once the additional booths are installed in Bryan, Blinn will work to add the welding technology AAS degree at Brenham’s A.W. Hodde, Jr., Technical Education Center.

“We are filling our welding classes both day and night, in Bryan and in Brenham,” Jones said. “We have an outstanding, nationally recognized curriculum in place, and the Brazos Valley is in a region with a high demand for skilled welders. The environment is perfect for Blinn to expand its training capacity.”

To enroll in future welding courses or learn more about the program, contact Jones at dickie.jones@blinn.edu.