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AWS Student Chapter Hosts Welding Merit Badge Program

The American Welding Society Student Chapter at Pennsylvania College of Technology hosted its first Welding Merit Badge program from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12, in the college’s Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center.

Fourteen Boy Scouts (ages 13-16) attended, representing six troops from central Pennsylvania – a couple of which drove more than an hour to participate. The event was sponsored by the AWS Penn College Student Chapter, with members Matthew K. Stahlnecker, of Cogan Station; Scott F. Hutton, of Williamsport; Tyler A. Grove, of Perkasie; Alexander M. Martenas, of Berwick; Joshua T. Marvin, of Shickshinny; Nicholas C. Choiniere, of Millbury, Mass.; and Jason J. Bimle, of Altoona, participating. Stahlnecker and Marvin are welding technology students; the others major in welding and fabrication engineering technology.

Visiting Scout troops, clad in safety equipment and well-equipped for lab work, join their Penn College student hosts for a group photo.
Visiting Scout troops, clad in safety equipment and well-equipped for lab work, join their Penn College student hosts for a group photo.

To earn the Welding Merit Badge, Scouts are required to review welding safety, hazards, terminology and processes. They also must perform welds and investigate career opportunities within the field.

The program was divided into three main sections: Scouts learned about the basics of welding, welding processes and in-depth welding safety in an instructional setting; performed hands-on welds in the lab with the assistance of AWS student members; and saw a demonstration by Penn College students of CNC plasma cutting equipment and robotic welding cells.

The AWS Student Chapter at Penn College outfitted each Scout with the necessary safety equipment – helmets, safety glasses,  gloves and jackets – and provided guests with a barbecue lunch and beverages.

Stahlnecker believes this visit “opens up an opportunity these kids would not likely get to experience anywhere else.”

The club is optimistic that the program, which allows Scouts to learn how to weld in a safe environment designed specifically for such training, will become a biannual event in the fall and spring. It has the added benefit of introducing Scouts to the facilities at Penn College, which could influence their higher-education choices.

“Welding is a growing industry and I think it is a great opportunity for the Scouts,” the chapter president said. The club also hopes that Scouts earning their merit badges will become interested in the trade, an interest that could spark a future generation of welders.

Photo and information provided by Christine M. Hutton

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