Meet the Instructor: AWS D1.1 Online Code Clinic

by Eddie Guerra

If you’re an AWO regular, or if you subscribe to our monthly newsletter, then you already know that AWS Learning just released a pair of new online code clinics. For those of you who are unfamiliar, these online code clinics cover the AWS D1.1 and API 1104 code books and help you prepare for Part C of the CWI exam. You can get up to speed by checking out our previous blog post and the Online Code Clinic landing page.

Now, even after combing through the details, it’s possible you may be left wondering if an online code clinic is a good fit for you. Keeping that in mind we figured, who better to provide insight into the online code clinic experience than the instructors that helped us create them?

Let’s begin with Mr. Rick Suria, a Senior Certified Welding Inspector who was at the helm of our AWS D1.1 Online Code Clinic. Rick is a welding industry lifer, boasting more than 28 years of experience doing everything from automotive production to structural fabrication. He’s also conducted live CWI seminars with AWS since 2010. Rick was recently kind enough to set aside some time and join me for a candid Q & A session. During our chat we discussed his professional background, frequently asked questions he fields during his live classes, what students should expect when they sign up for the D1.1 Online Code Clinic, and more. So without further ado, let’s hear from Rick himself.

AWS Learning: Hey, Rick! So, let’s start with the basics. Tell me about your educational and professional background.

Rick Suria: Well, I have AA’s in Welding Technology and Industrial Machining from Southwest Illinois College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Technology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and a Masters in Workforce Education from SIU Carbondale as well. I’ve been in the welding industry for 28 years. I’ve done welding of all kinds, auto fabrication, DT and NDT, heavy structural fabrication, and quality management. I got my CWI in 1993, my CWE in 2001, and my SCWI in 2011. I began working as an instructor for AWS’ CWI Seminar program soon after.

AWS Learning: Sounds like you’ve seen and done quite a bit. Let’s talk about your experience as an instructor with AWS. What would you say are some questions you hear from students the most often?

Rick Suria: Well, as you’d expect, a lot of what I get asked relates to the codebook portion of the exam. But surprisingly, students often ask me more general questions, like what the seminar will cover, what the exam will test them on, and what kinds of things a CWI needs to know out in the field. For the most part, these are things they should already know. Understanding what being a CWI requires and entails, and identifying how much of that criteria you meet, is the first step toward being successful during this process. That’s why it’s so important for students to know what these online code clinics cover. Another thing I hear all the time is that the students want more practice questions, or other resources that will help them study. Specifically, they ask about material covering WPSs and PQRs, which I know AWS has an online course on. However, plenty of students ask about code book practice, and the guided problems and answers in the online code clinic are definitely something they may find helpful.

AWS Learning: Absolutely. Tell me, who do you feel can benefit the most from an online code clinic?

Rick Suria: I know the online code clinics are geared toward students who may not be able to attend a live seminar, and having something like this available for them is huge. It definitely gives an option to those that may feel they don’t have a prayer if they don’t attend the live seminar. But I also feel that even those students that do attend the live seminar can get a lot of out the online code clinic, particularly with the practice questions and walkthroughs. Beyond that, there are some folks who may find themselves suddenly needing to refer to a codebook, D1.1 or otherwise, as part of their job. They may have never even seen the codebook before, or may be aware of it in a limited capacity. For them, an online code clinic like this can definitely expose them to code book language, layout, and usage in a more substantial way and really help them get comfortable with it.

AWS Learning: Sticking with D1.1, are there any misconceptions you find students having in regards to the codebook?

Rick Suria: The one I notice most students have is that they assume the D1.1 codebook exam is automatically going to be tougher because of the size of the codebook. Their rationale is, “It’s too thick, it’s way too long, why on Earth would I test on it?” I always tell them, “Don’t fall for that.” The D1.1 codebook is organized in a very natural way in my opinion. It’s more intuitive to use. And it has an index. You’re much better off choosing a codebook based on what you currently weld and work with, and what you expect to be using out in the field.

AWS Learning: Great point. Now, if a student approached you and wanted to know what they should expect when they sign up for the online code clinic, and what they can do in order to get the most out of the experience, what would you tell them?

Rick Suria: Well, let me start off with this: it moves fast! I went through it after you guys finished putting it together, and let me tell you, I found that the information comes at you pretty quick. And this is coming from the guy in the videos! If you’re going to take the online code clinic, you have to really prepare for it like a student. Have the code book with you, open it up, and follow along. If you get to a part that doesn’t make sense to you, or that you don’t fully grasp, don’t move on. Go back, listen to it again. Make sure you really get it. If you approach it like that, you’ll have a much better go at it, because you’ll be actively using the code book, not just listening to me go through it. If you decide to just let it play and watch it like a movie, you won’t get much out of it. And of course, make sure you do all the quizzes and practice problems. It’s really the only way you’ll get comfortable finding the information you need to answer questions on the code book exam.

AWS Learning: Okay, we’re at the home stretch. What is one last tip or suggestion you’d like to give to any students or folks sitting at home who may be looking into taking a certification exam?

Rick Suria: Honestly, my suggestion to anyone looking to take a certification test, like the CWI exam, is to truly know what you need to be familiar with! Seriously, go read the QC1, check out the table in B5.1, and look at everything listed on the Body of Knowledge. The truth is, there is a ton that you need to know as a CWI. Knowing if you’re ready to tackle the exam is the best way to give yourself a chance at succeeding. If you’re unfamiliar with some types of information, maybe you can check out some online courses, or get some more experience before you proceed. Once you know that your foundation of experience and knowledge is solid, then you can focus on figuring out what option for preparation is best for you. And after that? Study and practice. A lot!

We hope you found our discussion with Rick Suria to be informative and helpful. For those of you wondering if we forgot about the pipeline welders: don’t worry! Check back with us next week, as we chat with Dave Diaz, featured instructor for our API 1104 Online Code Clinic and overall swell guy.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of AWS Learning’s Online Code Clinics, or simply want additional information, look no further than the Online Code Clinic landing page, found here.

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