PITTSBURGH—In the midst of the economic downturn, many of the trades programs at the Community College of Allegheny County have been operating at capacity. With no more space in the welding lab at the college’s West Hills center in Oakdale, administrators took the next step: Add time.
The result is a welding course of study throughout the spring semester—from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., Monday to Thursday. Well, very early Friday morning, if anyone’s counting. The whole building will not be open during those hours, just the welding lab and classroom.
“The night shift is an option to expand welding offerings to new groups of students, including incumbent workers who may have worked the night shift, people who have childcare issues that would prevent them from taking classes during the day or those who are just night owls,” said Gretchen Mullin–Sawicki PhD, dean of academic affairs for CCAC North campus and West Hills center.
The center’s welding lab is currently at full capacity, with classes scheduled Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; West Hills is not open on Sundays. This lab is used by credit students as well as by industry leaders who take business and industry classes.
In the City of Bridges, welding is a high-demand field. In the 2008 Southwestern PA Manufacturing Industry Partnership Welding Outcomes Report, the International Association of Machinists and Steamfitters Local 449 reports that “there exists a shortage of welders throughout both industries, there will be significant retirements over the next few years, resulting in a shortage of skilled welders, and that it is difficult to attract people to the welding profession.”
The spring “midnight welding” course incorporates the same curriculum as CCAC’s other welding certificate courses. It comprises six separate classes from January 25 through June 21, including Welding Fundamentals, Advanced Welding, Blueprint Reading for Welders, Prep for Welding Certification, MIG & TIG Processes and Brazing and Welding. At the close of the course in June, learners will be prepared to sit for trades examinations to enter Local 449.
CCAC will also offer a workforce fast-track welding class in the summer at more traditional hours.
The college is currently seeking an adjunct instructor to teach the late-night shift. Interested and qualified applicants should go to www.ccacjobs.com to submit an application.
The Community College of Allegheny County is the largest institution of postsecondary higher education in Pennsylvania. The college serves 30,000 credit students through 170 degree and certificate programs and offers thousands of lifelong learning non-credit and workforce development courses to 35,000 students annually. Incorporating a learning-centered environment committed to the future of the region, CCAC continues to expand its reach through innovative programming and accessible instruction offered via convenient day, evening, weekend and online courses. With four campuses and six centers serving Allegheny County and surrounding communities, CCAC endeavors to fulfill its mission to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society.