OF Develops New Welding Program

OF Develops New Welding Program

About ten minutes into Industrial Arts Teacher Dan Brown’s class, students are suiting up into special fire-resistant jackets and pants and gloves and placing protective headgear over their faces to protect their eyes. One would think they were getting ready to walk into the heart of the sun until you observed that they were ARC welding and actively working with hot electrodes. 

“They’re [the electrodes] pretty dangerous,” Mr. Brown said, “so we focus a LOT on safety and review it regularly.” Before putting on their protective gear, students had watched a safety video that day, in fact. 

As the hour progresses, the heat in the welding studio and in the classroom becomes more intense and the scent of ARC welding fills the air with a pungent sort of metallic warm oily smell. Students were practicing that day creating dots with the electrode in order to practice the skill of ARC welding on a piece of steel. Students practice each skill they learn for about a month to achieve mastery before proceeding to the next skill. 

Oak Forest High School spent the summer creating a ten-station state-of-the-art welding studio next to the machine shop. They installed new ventilation systems and power so they could meet the electrical requirements of ten welding stations. Safety was #1 on their mind while building the welding studio. 

Brown said, “Students get a real-world experience here at OFHS. They work with state-of-the art equipment and when they exit the program from Welding II, they are eligible to test for a welder’s certification at any local testing agency.” 

The welding program started out of an interest in our students to gain more skills in welding. In 2016, Dan Brown and Career Readiness Coordinator Renee Mack founded the Welding Works afterschool club to provide career awareness of the welding industry.

Since then, the program has grown each year resulting in our district offering welding courses. Industrial arts teachers consulted with several industry partners and South Suburban College to ensure the new BHSD#228 program was preparing our students for the future either through the trades or in continuing their education. 

Oak Forest High School teacher Dan Brown became certified and teaches students with the American Welding Society curriculum. 

Students take the class for a variety of reasons. Senior Caden Bussie said, “I took this class, thinking that it would be a good opportunity that I could pursue if I wanted to pursue it later. My dad welds cars and is always looking for someone to help him. I don’t know if I want to be a welder but it’s a good skill to know.” 

In addition to getting real-world experience by using state-of-the-art equipment, students also are practicing teamwork by working in teams in each one of the ten welding stations. That way, one person is ARC welding, and one person is in charge of watching for safety, something students take very seriously. Once they go behind the protective red heavy-duty plastic barrier, the students are all business. 

Bussie said that it is important that he and his fellow students be careful of their surroundings. He said that the thing he is always trying to do is to “be careful of your surroundings because you could injure someone really easily. You have to be really aware of your surroundings.” 

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