Lewis and Clark Community College’s new Weber Workforce Center will officially open to students when fall classes begin Aug. 20.
“It is awe-inspiring to see where we were when we started the Welding Technology program in 2012, to where we are now, getting ready to start the new semester in our new facility,” said Welding Technology Coordinator Travis Jumper.
The college broke ground on the 16,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in 2016 and held its first event in the building this past spring when it welcomed the American Welding Society for the St. Louis Section’s annual Student Night.
The $4.5 million project was made possible in large part by a nearly $3.25 million gift from the estate of local resident Ed Weber and contributions from local industry, such as HWRT Oil Co. and Cope Plastics, Inc., said LCCC President Dale Chapman, bringing the donor-supported total to $3.75 million through the LCCC Foundation.
“This is the largest gift to date received by the college’s Foundation, and we are so thankful for Mr. Weber’s vision to provide the region’s future generations with the latest technology and safest practices,” Chapman said.
The Weber Workforce Center, featuring a Miller shop equipped with 30 high-efficiency welding stations, doubles the capacity of the college’s Welding program, which has grown as the demand for skilled welders has continued to increase.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for welders is promising – with the need expected to increase by 26 percent by 2020 as experienced professionals transition into retirement.
“Our program, which plans to integrate augmented reality into the curriculum in the near future, gives student welders the hands-on experience they need to be able to step into a job right after graduation,” Jumper said.
Through dual credit at 14 district high schools, students can get an early start on their welding degree or certificate – up to 6 credit hours, or two classes – before they even set foot on LCCC’s campus.
A three-way partnership with Miller and Cee Kay Supply enhances the program by allowing the high schools the first option to purchase used equipment as the college cycles new equipment in.
“Partnering with LCCC allows Cee Kay Supply to assist in making sure the students are learning to weld with the newest technology,” said Timm Evans, vice president of Sales at Cee Kay. “A lot of times the funds are not available for schools to have the latest equipment in welding. The job market for welders is at an all-time high, but if they are learning on 10-year-old equipment it does not help in securing future employment. We at Cee Kay Supply say ‘Together We Build’ and partnering with L&C and Miller continues this path.”
In addition to the shop area, the Weber Workforce Center houses three classrooms, including one with 20 computer stations; three offices, two of which have views into the lab; restrooms equipped with showers; an Oxy fuel cutting/grinding room and a clean testing room.
It’s also incredibly efficient.
Welding inverter technology uses 1/5 of the power a normal shop would, about 150-175 amps total per day. The advanced HEPA air filtration system, a higher grade than many hospitals use – filters fumes out of the shop and circulates clean air back in.
Jumper said the facility aims to become one of the only American Welding Society certified testing facilities in the region. The nearest facility is currently in Collinsville, followed by Chicago.
In line with the college’s sustainability focus, the building was designed for LEED silver certification. The four wind turbines atop the building are capable of generating 4kw/day and will be used for educational purposes in the college’s Architectural Technology program.
LED smart lighting dims and brightens the lights, depending on the availability of natural light coming through the windows. Additionally, pervious pavers in the roadway and parking lot, along with the bioswale in the front of the building, are designed for groundwater filtration.
“One of the exciting features of this building from a sustainability perspective is that we’ve actually increased the square footage of permeable surfaces at the site,” said LCCC Director of Sustainability Nate Keener. “Rain used to fall on an asphalt parking lot as it rushed into our creeks, causing erosion. Now much more rain will infiltrate through a large bioswale and a butterfly garden.”
The college envisions expanding the Weber Workforce Center in the future as manufacturing and industrial workforce program demands increase and funding becomes available.
Currently, the college offers 34 workforce programs, including flagships such as Welding Technology, Automotive Technology and Process Operations Technology.
Additionally, the college provides ongoing workforce education and contractor safety training to district employers through its Workforce Education, Solutions & Safety Training division, which operates out of the Bethalto Training Center located at 1136 E. Airline Dr., near the Bethalto Airport.
PHOTO: The Weber Workforce Center will open for classes Aug. 20. Photo by Jan Dona, Lewis and Clark Community College Media Services
LCCC welding faculty leading AWS St. Louis Section
GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College Welding faculty members are leaders in their field.
Currently, adjunct faculty Robert Lee serves as chair of the American Welding Society St. Louis Section, with Welding Technology Coordinator Travis Jumper as first vice chair. Jumper will begin his two-year term as chair in June 2019.
Lee began his career as a welder for Central Mine Equipment Co. He was accepted into the apprentice program with Ironworkers Local 392, later becoming a journeyman ironworker and earning his Associate in Applied Science in Welding Technology.
Lee has become a well-known Certified Welding Inspector and instructor for both Lewis and Clark and Southwestern Illinois College, where he holds the faculty title of Assistant Professor. He also teaches for the Ironworkers Local 392 Apprentice Program and for major area corporations, advancing their employees with professional skills development.
In addition to serving as AWS chairman, he also serves on the AWS National Membership Committee, serves as a Skills USA Judge for the Illinois State Welding Events, and is a Skills USA National Judge.
“I enjoy molding young minds through welding education here at Lewis and Clark Community College, thereby giving them marketable skills and a vision for their future,” Lee said.
Jumper is a 2017 recipient of the Howard E. Adkins Memorial Instructor of the Year Award for District 14 of the AWS. He received the award for the St. Louis Section in 2016 and was Lewis and Clark’s Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award recipient the same year.
Jumper, of Bethalto, joined Lewis and Clark in April 2012 and began developing the welding program curriculum. The program opened and was filled with students by the second eight-week session of the fall semester that same year and has only grown since. He has been a longtime advocate of vocational and career programs in education.
“The last 6+ years have been a whirlwind of activity, but the experience has been both challenging and fun,” Jumper said. “We work closely with our district high school welding/agriculture instructors and their guidance counselors to help educate their students on employment options within the welding industry. We were able to create a curriculum from scratch and build up the program in a way that maximizes the skills of the students and prepares them for a variety careers in the welding industry – careers that range from welders and fitters, to engineering and weld inspection, marketing and sales, truck driving, equipment repair, education and many more.”
Lee and Jumper are just two of seven faculty members in LCCC’s Welding Technology program. Together, two full-time faculty members and five adjunct faculty members have a combined 180+ years of experience working in the field.
For more information on the Welding Technology program at Lewis and Clark, visit www.lc.edu/program/welding or call (618) 468-4931.
For general enrollment information, visit www.lc.edu, or call (618) 468-2222 or (800) YES-LCCC.