Oct. 21, 2013
BERLIN – White Mountains Community College recently hosted an open house for its new $1.7 million advanced welding lab.
"We're training welders for tomorrow, not today," said John Holt, grant coordinator for the project.
The new lab and equipment at WMCC as well as a mobile teaching lab were made possible by a $20 million grant for advance manufacturing to the Community College System of N.H. through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program. From that total, $1.7 million was used for the advanced welding program at Berlin.
WMCC President Katharine Eneguess noted the existing program at the college has a strong reputation for providing 'hands-on' welding skills. Nearly ever graduate has at least one job offer and many land jobs in the $20 an hour pay range. She credited the current faculty including lead instructor Mike Pike, Gerry Therriault, Jon Mulkins, and Garry Fitzmorris.
Eneguess also recognized Dennis Carrier who teaches welding at Berlin High's Career and Technical Education Center. Students at BHS can receive college credit through Carrier's program.
Holt said WMCC is building a 'destination program' that the college feels can be the best in New England. He said they are using the most up-to-date technology and plan to stay on the cutting edge.
"We are using new technology... to improve what we do best: 'hand-on welding' and creating professionals who are ready to enter the workforce," Holt said.
Next year, the college plans to introduce an associate degree focused on the advanced processes.
Eneguess said the college has put together a very strong advisory board and a group of business partners for the welding program. She said they were instrumental in providing curriculum and even equipment when the program was getting started and continue to provide guidance and resources. The advisory board includes Bancroft Contracting, Bremco, Canam Structal-Bridges, Cianbro, Cross Machine, Nordic Construction, Westinghouse Electric, Berlin High School, and Steamfitters Local 131. Business partners include Airgas, Hypertherm, Lincoln Electric, Miller Electric, and Victor Technologies.
A generous donation from Bon Chapman of Chapman Container and Recycling help cover the cost of painting the new lab.