ST. PETERSBURG — Applied Welding Technologies has recently come back to the St. Pete campus of Pinellas Technical College (PTC) after a hiatus of several years. Since returning in August 2104, the program’s mission is to prepare students for employment as welders in the fabrication and repair industry and also the construction industry.
“Basically what they learn is structural and pipe welding here, and several different processes,” said PTC instructor Jay Nunes.
In a planned sequence of courses, the program covers a comprehensive curriculum that includes shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, fluxed core arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding.
The initial course focuses on cutting, bending, drilling, punching and finishing skills in working with metals. The students then move on to various welding processes and apply their skills such as making groove and fillet welds in overhead, vertical, and horizontal positions. They also learn techniques for groove and fillet welds on aluminum and stainless steel, and carbon steel.
The curriculum culminates with the Pipe Welding segment, in which students are taught how to tack and weld carbon steel pipe and fabricate products from drawings and blueprints.
“Ninety-five percent of it is hands on training where they’re actually welding,” Nunes affirmed, adding that students even get the opportunity to do live work. “Right now we’re considering remodeling one of the trailers for our school district, so that could be a six month project that we might be doing here starting in about three months.”
With a total of 1,150 course hours, it takes 14 months to complete the program. At the end of the program students are required to take the American Welding Society certification test.
“They take the physical test and then they become a certified welder at the end of our course,” Nunes explained. Because the program has just been restarted at the St. Pete campus since August 18, students currently take the certification exam at the Clearwater PTC campus—but that will change as soon as PTC St. Pete becomes certified to give the test.
“It’s in the works,” Nunes said.
Though the average age of students in the Applied Welding Technologies program is early 20s, Nunes said the ages range from 18 years old to 40 years old, and the program is willing to accept high school seniors.
Once students graduate from the program Nunes said they receive help with job placement. Nunes has also had industry professionals in to speak with the students.
“I have had the local iron workers union come in and talk to the guys,” he said, “and I have spoken to the local boilermakers union and a couple others, too. Just come in and talk to them and show them the job opportunities that are out there. Anywhere from the local shops here in Pinellas County to some of the unions that can take them out of state if that’s what they choose to do, to even the shipyards.”
Of the benefits to taking a welding program and ultimately going into the profession, Nunes said simply: “Welding has sustained me personally for the last 35 years, and I went to school as a young man at 17 in a program exactly like this one. And no matter what the economy was doing, I could always find work. It’s an honest living and you can really have a good life in this industry.”
If you’re interested in exploring this career path, please visit myptec.org or call 727-893-2500. Financial aid is available.