(Winona, MN) Mississippi Welders Supply Co. (MWSCO) believes that everyone interested in welding and metal fabrication should have the opportunity to learn. The Spark Young Minds grant program was developed to help support our community educators who inspire young students through hands-on programs. This year, in partnership with Miller Electric, MWSCO was able to award three High Schools with a Millermatic 211 MIG welder with running gear, a Miller F-Series ArcStation Workstation table, 125 cu/ft Argon/CO2 Gas Cylinder, Digital Performance welding helmets, and Indura cloth welding jackets.
We received 53 applications and the MWSCO team found it challenging to choose only three recipients when so many High Schools have expressed their need to replace old equipment or require additional equipment to meet growing interest, when funding for their welding program is limited.
The first annual 2021 Spark Young Minds recipients are all from Wisconsin: Cameron High School, Greenwood High School, and Spring Valley High School.
Cameron High School
With about 20-30 students in the program and only two MIG welders in the lab, it can be a challenge to make time for each student to spend quality time working on projects. Like many schools, budgets are tight so Jay Cornell, TechEd, Aviation, CAD Teacher, shared his ideas for turning an interest in career-centered classes and what this new equipment will do for the program. “We will be using the welder to practice MIG welding basics as well as incorporating it into our projects, which include a fire ring,” says Mr. Cornell. “We are just getting started in the lab portion of our 2nd trimester welding class. My TA has the machine set up and ready to go!”
Greenwood High School
For Greenwood, they have seen an increase in students interested in their welding program. Being awarded a new MIG welding machine has allowed them to add an additional welding booth to comfortably accommodate more students. And with the addition of a cart, this mobile station allows for welding in different places of the shop, expanding even more possibilities with different types of projects. Noah Werner, Technology Education Teacher, says, “Students are using the new equipment to complete welds for their dual credit welding course with Chippewa Valley Technical College. Students have the chance to earn college credit while in high school and the equipment is being used in that course. Students will also be working on a custom CNC plasma cut design. They will use the equipment to finish assembly of that design.”
Spring Valley High School
There were two teachers from Spring Valley High School that applied for this grant. Both will use this new MIG welder package. For Jon Stimmel, Technology Education Teacher, this is his first-year teaching tech ed. His goal is to create a safe woods and metals shop for his students and this new equipment is a great start. Mr. Stimmel says, “We are loving the new welder! Our main problem with the machine is figuring out who gets to use it next :). My current class is Welding 1, so it is an intro class. Students are currently learning how to do all of the main welds on MIG and Stick: butt joint, T weld, lap joints, and welding around a pipe.” Grace Anderson teaches the metal fabrication class in which students get to choose and plan their own projects. “We are enjoying the new welder and PPE very much. It always seems like a contest of who can get to the new welder the fastest to use it! A couple examples of projects that kids are working on are a fish tank stand for our classroom and some stools for their shops at home,” says Ms. Anderson.
Chris Wierschke, Commercial District Manager for Miller Electric, was able to join Steve Lundborg, MWSCO Hudson Store Manager, and David Becker, Sales Representative for MWSCO, to present the new equipment to the Spring Valley High School students. The teachers asked us to give the students some perspective on career opportunities in welding. Chris has this to share about that discussion, “As each of us took turns telling our story, I realized that every one of us took different paths into the welding world. As students navigate high school, there is excitement and anxiety about what the working world will bring. I really wanted the students to take away three key things: (1) In life, there is very rarely one clearly defined road to success, (2) feeling uncomfortable leads to growth, and (3) inactivity will hold you back.”
MWSCO sees a bright future ahead for the industry and a great opportunity for the up-and-coming workforce to secure their career path within the world of technology, engineering, manufacturing, and industrial sciences. We look forward to continuing and growing the Spark Young Minds grant program in partnership with the industry’s best manufacturers of welding and metal fabrication equipment. Stay tuned for announcements on future grant programs by joining our newsletter or following us on your favorite social media network.