Expanding Enrollment, Quest for State-of-the-Art Equipment Prompt Purchase of Welding Machinery
If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to be an artist, you go to art school and if you want to be in marketing, you go to business school. But where do aspiring welding professionals go for an education? They go to welding school.
Tulsa Welding School (TWS), Tulsa, Oklahoma, prides itself on training professional welders and weld inspectors and has been doing so for 50 years. The school’s remarkable reputation has caused it to be known industry wide as the world’s source for welding craftsmen. In order to keep up with the growing student enrollment and provide the latest welding technology to its students, TWS recently moved to a new, larger campus and expanded its impressive supply of welding machinery.
TWS sets itself apart from other welding schools in a number of ways. One interesting feature is the school’s non-traditional approach to education. The school utilizes the revolutionary Design a Curriculum (DACUM) process, which uses the experiences of industry professionals as a basis for the curriculum.
“We locate a panel of field and shop welding experts and inspectors who spend several days dictating everything that makes them effective at their jobs, be it a welding skill or personal attribute. Then we implement those ideas into our lesson plans,” TWS President Roger Hess explained. “Unlike many other schools, we don’t teach right from a textbook. We use a textbook to help supplement the lesson plans. Students also have plenty of hands-on welding experience, as about 80 percent of the training is done in the welding lab.”
TWS currently offers four welding programs: Master Welder, Combination Welder, Structural Welder and the Associate of Occupational Studies in Welding Technology degree. The full-time training programs are offered during the morning, afternoon and evening.
Most entering students select the Master Welder program because of the numerous welding specialties and processes used by employers. This program, consisting of 10 three-week training phases, prepares graduates for entry-level positions in structural, pipe, thin alloy and pipeline welding. Key processes learned include SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, FCAW and high frequency GTAW. Rather than enroll in the seven-month Master Welder program, some students prefer a program with fewer welding specialties, such as the Combination Welder or Structural Welder programs. These are simply shorter versions of Master Welder, containing only five to seven of the Master Welder phases.
After completing the Master Welder program, graduates who meet or exceed the cumulative grade point average and admissions requirements may opt to obtain their Associate Degree in Welding Technology. These individuals advance to an additional seven-month training program to become a Welding Quality Assurance/Quality Control Inspector.
Following graduation, approximately 98 percent of TWS graduates are employed in prosperous welding careers with companies ranging from large field operations to small shops. Naturally, this is catching the attention of prospective students and employers nationwide. In 1998, TWS had 800 students in welder training from the United States and abroad; and, due to the employment rate, chances are good that the number will continue to rise.
In order to keep up with the growing demands of the students, TWS turned to The Lincoln Electric Company. “Our expanding student enrollment created the need for additional welding equipment,” Hess said.
Hess and TWS Director of Training Jerry Griggs took a welding instructor to Lincoln’s Tulsa office, where they met Lincoln Technical Representative Eddie Harper. Harper allowed the instructor to weld with the Wire-Matic™ 255 semi-automatic, constant-voltage DC arc-welding machine. The quality of the weld was so outstanding that Harper put the piece on display. After the demonstration, TWS purchased 16 Wire-Matics for MIG and flux-cored welding purposes. “We are aware of Lincoln’s quality reputation and have been extremely satisfied with their equipment in the past,” Hess commented. “We chose the Wire-Matics because of their dependability, ease of operation and features.”
Students entering TWS have a complete range of welding experience—some having never even welded before—so it was very important that the machines be as uncomplicated as possible. The Wire-Matic features only one dial for voltage and another for wire feed speed. In addition, its comp01a0ct size and movable undercarriage make it ideal for educational use.
“The Wire-Matics eliminate student frustration that comes from working with machinery that is overly complicated. This way they can spend time perfecting their skill, instead of worrying about a manufacturer’s equipment problem. Both students and instructors appreciate this.” Hess noted.
Not only are the Wire-Matics easy to use, but they are environmentally friendly as well. They produce very little spatter and smoke, which means less class time wasted on cleanup and more fresh air to breathe. “My office overlooks the welding lab, and there is very little smoke rising from the Wire-Matics,” Hess said.
The Wire-Matics are used on mostly mild steel ranging in thickness from ¼” to ½”. TWS uses .045 wire for flux-cored and .035 wire for MIG welding, with Trimix shielding gas. The machines are frequently put to the test, operating 15 hours a day, four days a week “We expected that Lincoln would produce the superior machine, and they have definitely proven us right,” Griggs said.
Today, TWS has a total of 160 welding stations, 80 of which contain Lincoln products. Other Lincoln products used by the school include the Idealarc® AC/DC Stick and TIG, Idealarc 250, Idealarc TIG 300 and Idealarc DC 400 welders. “We have had some of these machines for more than 20 years. They are well made and stand up to our rigorous environment,” Hess said.
Although TWS has not yet needed to service its new machines since their purchase in October 1998, the school has been impressed by Lincoln’s dedication. “Eddie still drops by every two weeks to see how the machines are working,” Griggs said. Other Lincoln people who have assisted TWS include District Manager James Coote in Kansas City; Technical Representative Kara Bishop in Kansas City; District Manager Allen Chapman in Memphis; Director of Technical Training Dennis Klingman in Cleveland; as well as District Manager David Thomas and Technical Representatives Chris Barrett and Ron Waldrop in Tulsa.
Beyond the Classroom
The relationship between TWS and Lincoln Electric extends far beyond the welding lab. For the past 3 years, TWS has presented at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention. This event attracts 30,000 high school students annually, and is held at various locations throughout the country.
TWS conducts high school instructor workshops using Lincoln Electric equipment. Instructors learn new techniques or master their current skills. At the 1998 FFA Arkansas convention in Hot Springs, TWS held a workshop for 60 instructors and then held a similar workshop for 20 instructors in Oklahoma.
“A good part of our involvement with these instructors stems from our relationship with the Lincoln representatives,” Hess noted. Students and teachers should be sure to look for TWS and The Lincoln Electric Company at the 1999 FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
So what’s next for TWS? “As our student enrollment continues to grow, chances are good that we will look to Lincoln again,” Hess said.
With the school’s current growth and employment rates, it looks like Tulsa Welding School and The Lincoln Electric Company will continue to shape tomorrow’s welding professionals for many years to come.