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Blinn welding instructor’s innovative methods equip students for success

Live demos and shared ideas from the industry’s best keep Blinn’s welding program on the cutting edge

September 13, 2017

For Blinn College Welding Instructor John McGee, the subject he teaches is more than just a pathway to a high-paying career – it’s both an art form and a responsibility.

“I want to make sure I do justice to the industry that has taken care of me over the last 20 years,” Welding Instructor John McGee said. “I want to make sure that the students who come through this program are prepared to take on the responsibilities of the industry when the guys who taught me start retiring.”

Students who enroll in Blinn College’s Welding Program get a front row seat to McGee’s incredible demonstrations, which have earned him a devoted following on YouTube, Instagram, and in state-wide welding competitions.

“He is a top-quality welder,” said David Yeager, Director of the A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center. “When we talk to companies about what we are doing with our workforce training and degree plans, he speaks their language. Then when we set up training for local companies, he understands exactly what they need and how we can deliver.”

McGee began welding in high school and landed his first welding job at 16 years old. From there, he worked for Transocean, an offshore drilling company, before opening his own welding and fabrication business for 10 years in Bryan.

“It got to that point in life where there weren’t as many challenges in fabrication; you got the blueprint and then you built the project,” McGee said.  “Then I found teaching, and it filled that gap that seemed to be missing.”

McGee began teaching Blinn College welding courses as a part-time instructor in 2010 before coming on board full-time last year. Welding and blacksmithing competitions, which McGee participates in at least twice a year, have helped him stay sharp.

“Any time you compete, there are people asking questions and it forces you to be able to explain it to them and prepares you for teaching two dozen people,” McGee said. “If you get stuck in your own bubble, then you never have anyone question your methods. If you are in a competitive atmosphere, getting scrutinized by everybody, then you are forced to have a valid answer for your choices.”

McGee enjoys teaching students in a hands-on environment where approximately 20 percent of the program is spent in the classroom and the remaining 80 percent is spent in hands-on instruction.

“My students really want to get out there and learn the trade,” McGee said. “A lot of these machines are very expensive, and it is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn how to make a living.”

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. All welding processes are taught in accordance to welding codes established by the American Welding Society (AWS).

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.

“There are plenty of local opportunities, but if my students want to see what is out there, then I hope I give them the skill set to do what they feel like they need to do in life and the confidence to not be afraid to step out there and do it,” McGee said.

“Twenty-three years of welding and I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.”

For more information about Blinn College’s welding courses, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce