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Welding offered at Picayune Career and Technology Center

Students at the Picayune Career and Technology Center are getting hands on experience in welding, a trade they could use after they graduate from high school.

Thanks to Pearl River Community College’s $30,000 mobile welding unit, 16 students at Picayune Memorial High School and one student from PRCC are learning the basics of welding under the instruction of Joel Dickens and Marc McPhail.

Four afternoons a week for four hours after school, students learn about the three main welding methods and one cutting method, Dickens said. Through the shielded metal arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding methods, students will learn the proper way to run stringer beads by manufacturing a t-joint, he said.

Students also are learning how to cut metal scraps for making the joints with an oxy-fuel cutting torch, Dickens said.

Dale Miller, who is over the program, said the course work does involve some desk work, but focuses mostly on hands-on training. Miller said that by the second and third nights students were already in the shop cutting and welding pieces together.

This is the first time the training has been offered at the school. Even though students receive only half of a school credit, attendance has been high, Vocational Director Christie Pinero said.

“I think that shows you right there the need for it,” Pinero said.

Students do get more than just half a credit though. Miller said the training will give the students a head start if they decide to take a welding courses at PRCC. This training at the vocational center will enable them to skip the introduction class at the River, and give them some accreditation enabling them to go straight to work after high school if they attend the class for a number of consecutive semesters, if it is offered in the future. Miller said the placement of welders is not based so much off of training as much as demonstrated skill through a welding test administered by the employer. Dickens said this training could get a student a job as an entry-level welder at a fabricator shop if they display the necessary skill.

As of the beginning of this semester, the course has been offered on a trial basis. Pinero said she hopes to be able to offer the course at least once, if not twice, a year but that decision has not been made yet. She said the interest is there. This first class originally had 30 students to sign up, but only 16 had an open schedule after school or turned in the necessary information.

For the time being the Career and Technology Center is using the mechanics’ shop as a make shift welding center. Pinero said even the mechanics instructor, Leo Raverty, has taken advantage of the training to keep his skills up to date.