Lehigh Career & Technical Institute of Schneckville recently celebrated the opening of its new Welding Technology Center, a $4.25 million project that doubled the welding program’s lab size.
The 12,000-square-foot-addition brings more space for more students to use its virtual augmented technology, said Sean Moran, a member of the board of directors of the American Welding Society and welding engineer at American Hydro, a manufacturer in York.
The equipment includes two virtual welder machines that allow students to practice the hand/eye coordination required for welding, he said.
During the next three years, the welding industry would need about 375,000 welders nationally, Moran said, prompting the need for an investment such as this at LCTI.
With manufacturing activity picking up and a workforce that’s looking to retire, these are two factors that are increasing demand for welders, he said.
“Manufacturing is evolving,” Moran said. “Welders have to use more advanced equipment, digitally controlled equipment.”
The welding machines of the past had simple on/off switches, but today; they’ve become more complex and computerized.
So far, the program has more than 30 students enrolled, Moran said.
“This allows them to actually expand the program,” Moran said. “I see this extra space being filled in the next year.”
Moran said companies are also starting to hire more young welders now because they want to bring them on board so they can learn from the older employees.