College celebrates expanded welding lab, industry partners

By: fioreMarketing | February 7, 2020 | Original Article

An expanded and enhanced welding lab – at 55,000-plus square feet, believed to be the largest such facility in higher education nationwide – was dedicated on Feb. 6 at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The Welding Expansion Project, funded in part by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, added 35,000 square feet of instructional space to the lab in the college’s Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center, allowing for enrollment of up to 60 more welding students annually – more than 300 in total.

Pennsylvania College of Technology President Davie Jane Gilmour deftly wields a plasma cutter to sever a metal ribbon during a dedication ceremony for a greatly expanded welding facility at the college.

The facility houses what is also believed to be the only electron beam welder being used for instruction in U.S. higher education. Electron beam welding – a fusion welding process in which a high-velocity electron beam is used to join two metals together – is a cutting-edge technology popular in the aerospace, automotive, defense, semiconductor, medical, nuclear, oil and gas, and power generation industries.

“Today is a celebration of the very best of collaboration and the impact it has in our world,” said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour. “We stand together in a state-of-the-art lab. Next door to the EB welder are advanced processes in laser welding and cutting. We have CNC plasma cutters, a full lab of automation and robotics, a room dedicated to specialized welding, and a nondestructive-testing classroom and lab that will take us to the next level in curriculum offerings. We have 18,000 square feet of space dedicated to metal fabrication, and we have Pipe Alley, offering pipeline simulation, as well as 124 individual lab booths for welders to weld.”

“Your support has ignited a spark that will continue to burn brightly for generations to come,” Gilmour added, as she spoke to project supporters who gathered in the lab for the event.

Michael J. Reed, vice president for academic affairs/provost, noted how the welding lab was expanded in 2010 and then “immediately grew into, and out of, the space” because of the program’s popularity and the growing demand for its graduates in industry.

A unique Welding Expansion Recognition Wall – designed by alumnus and welding instructor Michael Patterson and built in partnership with faculty, staff and students – is unveiled during a dedication ceremony attended by approximately 150 supporters and invited guests.

“Now, more students are positioned to earn rewarding and sustainable careers – careers that impact the success of our economy,” Reed said. “This facility delivers 35,000 square feet of expanded opportunities for 300-plus students to hone their skills in what is now likely to be the largest instructional welding facility in the United States – and home to a curriculum with a reputation that spans the globe.”

Other speakers at the dedication were state Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the college’s Board of Directors; Loni N. Kline, vice president for institutional advancement; Bradley M. Webb, dean of industrial, computing and engineering technologies; Nathaniel H. Lyon, a welding and fabrication engineering technology student from Fredericksburg; and Jennifer Martin, a welding and fabrication engineering technology alumna working as engineering manager for Toyota in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Welding and metal fabrication is the third-largest program area on the Penn College campus, enrolling more than 300 students who benefit from, at minimum, 144 hours of hands-on welding as they hone skills that are in high demand in the workforce. Job placement for Penn College’s welding students is nearly 100 percent. The college offers a bachelor’s degree in welding and fabrication engineering technology; an associate degree in metal fabrication technology, an associate degree in welding technology, and a certificate in welding.

Principal supporters for the expansion project – who are honored on a Welding Expansion Recognition Wall designed by alumnus and welding instructor Michael Patterson and built in partnership with faculty, staff and students in the welding, electronics and collision repair programs – are: Miller Electric, Octopuz, Kuka Robotics Systems, BAE Systems, CLOOS Robotic Welding, Fronius, Laserline, Libellula, Lincoln Electric, Soitaab, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, Dolphitech, Hypertherm, High Steel Structures, Precitec, Michael Allen, James Colton, Davie and Fred Gilmour, Curtiss-Wright, Effective Controls, Greiner Industries, John Deere, Packaging Progressions and PPL Electric Utilities.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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