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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Summer Job Pays Off For Two WCC Students

  • “Explore Career Opportunities In Welding” custom demonstration trailer
  • Interior of the custom demonstration trailer
  • WCC welding students Brandon Woodman and Alex Pazkowski

Last summer it was all about the work for two talented WCC welders. Brandon Woodman and Alex Pazkowski, students in the WCC welding program, were hired by Triune Manufacturing Company in Madison Heights, Mich., to help fabricate an educational experience on wheels.

The American Welding Society Foundation had commissioned MRA experiential tours & equipment, a Triune affiliate, to create a custom demonstration trailer to build awareness for the industry and encourage the next generation of welders. In fact, the name of the trailer is “Explore Career Opportunities In Welding.” Executives at AWS thought the perfect way to drive that point home was to include welding students in the process.

“As soon as they started talking about using WCC students, I thought of these two guys,” said Glenn Kay II, who teaches welding for WCC. “They work part time in our department as lab techs and they’ve been really great students. They both competed in the SkillsUSA competition and did really well. I knew they were great candidates for this build and great representatives for WCC and our program.”

MRA spent months putting together the logistics. Lincoln Electric stepped in to donate five virtual reality welding simulators. Total fabrication, including the demonstration equipment and built-ins to showcase it, put the final cost close to $1 million.

“We were in Madison Heights pretty much the whole summer until the Fall Semester started,” said Pazkowski. “We built the trailer from the frame up. At the beginning they had us cutting miles and miles of metal, actually all the metal for the entire trailer. Just when you thought you were done, another truckload would pull up.”

“With a little bit of help, I was able to build the entire floor of the expandable part of the trailer,” said Woodman, who with Pazkowski also worked on the steel frame for the walls. “I’d say we probably did about 90 percent of the welding on it.

“The truck goes all over the country to different events. It was at the Fabtech show in Chicago last fall. We actually got to go to the show and help them out with the trailer’s unveiling.”

During the unveiling, MRA presented them each with a $500 scholarship on behalf of Truine Manufacturing. “I guess it was their way of saying thanks for helping,” said Kay. “They’ve been a really great company to work with.

“In fact, they want to employ our students and opened up the door for these two guys with an offer of a full-time job for both of them. They’re right in the middle of their school so they are definitely considering it when they finish. MRA really likes what we do here at WCC, and they want more of our students.”

The five virtual reality welding machines in the trailer are a hit. “People love to try out the virtual welders,” said Woodman. “It’s cool to see people do it. It really gets them interested in welding.”

The trailer is visiting state fairs, air shows, racing events, and trade shows across the country this year. “They have a time-lapse video of the trailer being fabricated along with Brandon and Alex working on it, which plays the whole time throughout the shows,” said Kay. “The screen features all kinds of things, including the history of welding. They also have a helmet from Chip Foose on display. Chip’s big in auto fabrication. The whole thing’s really done well.”

“It felt pretty awesome to be part of something so big—to help build a trailer that’s going to travel all over the country,” said Woodman. “It was a chance of a lifetime.”

“Everywhere that thing goes, our names go with it,” said Pazkowski.

“It’s nice to know that we’ll be known for our work this way.”

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