WCC welding students compete with world’s best, fill jobs in a multitude of industries

April 17, 2024 WCC Public Relations

Image of student Steven Keppner welding.


The world of welding is broad and vast. And with one of the largest welding labs in the state and exceptional instructors, Washtenaw Community College trains some of the best. 

On average, more than 400 welding students are enrolled each semester in four certificate and associate degree welding programs. Students hone their skills for high-wage, high-demand jobs in a lab that includes 72 welding booths. 

The college’s students feed industries throughout the country, with an increasing number seeking bachelor’s degrees. 

“Because we sit in such an industrially diverse area, our students have so many options as it relates to their career paths,” says Alex Pazkowski, Professional Welding Faculty member who himself went through WCC’s program.

Students are so well-trained, and there is such a high demand for their skills, that they’re often scooped up by industry even before they complete their program. The college’s programs include Associate in Applied Science degrees as well as two certificates. Some students who eventually may want to earn advanced degrees in welding or in metallurgical engineering can follow WCC’s new transfer pathway to Wayne State University or the 3+1 transfer program with Eastern Michigan University. 

Student Steven Knepper’s goal is to transfer to Wayne State for a bachelor’s in Welding Engineering Technology. 

Just 20 years old, the Tecumseh High School graduate has already reached impressive milestones in his career. He recently advanced to among the top 13 qualifying spots for the international World Skills Competition in welding. 

“We are incredibly proud of Steven. To be chosen as one of the few to compete at the level he did is a huge feather in his cap and for the WCC program as well. Steven is amazingly talented, confident, dedicated to excellence,  and he has grit. He can write his own future,” says Pazkowski, who has mentored Knepper.  

Pazkowski himself competed in the 2013 World Skills Competition in Germany and won a Silver Medal and the Best in Nation award (best overall score from Team USA).  

Knepper credits his successes to Pazkowski and the entire WCC welding department and says he may follow in his mentor’s footsteps as a teacher. 

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without Alex. He’s taught me everything,” Knepper says. “I can’t even put into words how grateful I am. I’d like to pass this knowledge along to others.” 



Find out more about WCC’s Welding & Fabrication programs,  call 734-973-3638, or email [email protected].


This story appears in the  Summer 2024 edition of Launch magazine. See complete issue.

Tags: 2024, Launch, Student Success, Summer Launch 2024, Welding

Take the
Next Step