AWS Contest Winner Helps At-Risk Youth Weld Their Way to a Better Future

The Education Services Department and AWS recently awarded the winners of the AWS Classroom Contest. The contest, designed to get the word out about the AWS Online Educational Library, was open to welding programs across the nation. The AWS Library is a comprehensive collection of online courses delivered through an innovative, easy-to-use Learning Management System. This versatile e-learning library complements existing real-time training programs, distance learning, blended learning, and flipped classroom models. Subscribers gain 24/7 access to the current collection of 12 welding courses, as well as all new courses added to the Library—at no extra cost. The Library is affordably priced to fit the budgets of academic institutions, corporate training programs, and apprenticeships.

AWS Corporate Director of Education, Patrick Henry, poses with Michael Jenkins and members of the GJR welding program.

The contest’s grand prize was won by George Junior Republic (GJR), an all-boys institution in Grove City, Pennsylvania that provides comprehensive treatment and educational programs for at-risk youth. GJR welding instructor, Michael Jenkins, is ready to make good use of the school’s winnings, which include 25 AWS Educational Library licenses, 25 Samsung Galaxy tablets, and 25 AWS Student Memberships. Jenkins emphasized the importance of exposing students to the fundamental knowledge provided by the online courses—including the science, equipment, consumables, process variables, and safety precautions inherent to each welding process—before they ever “spark an arc.”

After completing a basic welding curriculum developed by Jenkins, students use the program’s 12 welding booths to get hands-on experience and prepare for certification. Students are eligible to receive an AWS Certified Welder credential upon qualification by an independent third-party welding expert. Jenkins also plans to implement the AWS SENSE program, which will give his students the opportunity to earn additional credentials.

One of two sculptures completed in 2013, “Stop, Shop, and Dine” designates parking areas in downtown Grove City.

But that’s not all that GJR welding students have been up to. At least 24 welding students a year for the last six years have participated in the institution’s Pointing the Way sculpture project. “The project provides students at George Junior Republic the opportunity to design, fabricate and fully produce large-scale sculptures for the community,” said GJR’s Fine Arts Director, Glen Sanders. “Student involvement in the project assists them in both the development of soft and hard skills needed as they transition to the workforce.” Just as importantly, the program gives students the chance to give back to the community and feel a greater connection to society. Financed by local governments, non-profits, and businesses, Pointing the Way students initially produced sculptural parking signs for downtown Grove City. In recent years, the project has expanded to include different types of sculptures for other communities in western Pennsylvania, like Sharon, Greenville, Stoneboro, and Pittsburgh.

To support the Pointing the Way program at George Junior Republic, please contact the Director of Development at 724-458-9330  x 2171. Visit AWS Learning for more information about welding education, certification, and new ways to begin or expand your welding career.

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