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Penn College Named Partner in National Welding-Education Initiative

Pennsylvania College of Technology has been named a project team member for a $4.9 million National Science Foundation program establishing a National Center of Excellence in Welding Education and Training.

Leader for the project is Lorain County (Ohio) Community College, and Penn College was selected as one of eight regional partners that also include Chattanooga State Technical Community College, the College of the Canyons, Ferris State University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Ohio State University, Texas State Technical College and Weber State University.

Joining the partner colleges is the American Welding Society, the primary professional society for welding worldwide.

In efforts to help alleviate the shortage of qualified welders in the workforce including welding technicians and engineers the center will focus on standardizing welding education by determining best practices, which it will use to develop welding curriculum. The center will also provide professional development for welding educators. It will work with industry to ensure education is meeting workforce needs.

As a regional partner, Penn College will present workshops for welding educators and the welding industry, will work with industry to develop internships, and will disseminate curriculum materials to high schools and community colleges. The college will administer a $24,500 portion of the NSF funds.

“We are very fortunate to be partnering with Lorain County Community College and the other regional partners with this program,” said Donald O. Praster, acting dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies. “Our welding program has a very good reputation with the welding industry, and as one of the regional centers of excellence, we look forward to assisting in this endeavor promoting welding education.”

In improving welding education and teacher support, the National Center of Excellence in Welding Education and Training hopes to increase the number of qualified welding technicians to meet workforce needs.

The welding industry represents $34.1 billion per year in gross revenue and provides an enabling manufacturing process for $3.1 trillion of manufactured products, or about one-third of the U.S. gross domestic product.

“Virtually every major sector of manufacturing in this country relies on welding to some extent,” Praster said. “There is not a day that we are not impacted by welding. Whether it’s the automobile we are driving to the machines that are used to produce zip ties welding has played a role.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average welder is in his or her mid-50s, and many of these people will retire within the next 10 years, while there will continue to be nearly 450,000 welding jobs available.

For more information about welding and other academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, visit on the Web or call (570) 327-4520.

For more information about Penn College, visit online, e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.

For more information about grant-funding opportunities, faculty and staff may contact the Grants and Contracts Office at ext. 7562 or through its Web portal.

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