By Parker Pratt.
From 8:05 to 10:35 I attend the EVIT, East Valley Institute of Technology, Welding Program. In the welding shop there are two separate goals: projects and certifications.
Compared to various high school shops, the EVIT shop has the necessary requirements to certify a welder. Certifications for welding each have their own individual uses. Having a certification in SMAW (shielded metal arc welding) stick welding is very different from GMAW (gas metal arc welding) or mig welding to help you get a job in two separate industries. In the shop, there are 40 “booths” or 5’x5’ stalls. Five booths are set for mig welding, 25 are set for stick welding (which is the most common process in the shop), and 10 are set for tig welding or GTAW(gas tungsten arc welding). As a first-year student you are encouraged to work towards your stick certification, so many of the first years are in the booths working on perfecting their welds.
However another objective of the shop is projects. Although the shop is well funded from EVIT and the state, students work on projects that bring in more money for supplies and materials. Throughout the semester people will bring in small pieces that the students can practice on. Such things like a small fire pit or a camping chair that were broken that we simply fixed and sent back to the owner. There are two main projects that are often the center of attention as far as projects go, dumpsters and stairs. Throughout the city of Mesa there are large, often blue, dumpsters. These dumpsters have all sorts of waste put into them, sometimes even liquids. As you can imagine the bottoms the the dumpsters rot away over time, so the job that the welding students are tasked with is to cut off and replace the bottoms of bad dumpsters. To accomplish such a feat, the dumpsters must be flipped over and and then plasma cut. Plasma cutting is a process where the metal is heated until molten the blown away.
After the bottom is separated from the dumpster it must be cut to a more manageable size so it is cut in fourths. To replace the bottom a metal strip about 5 inches wide and 20 feet long is welded, heated, and bent to wrap around the dumpster. Two pieces of sheet metal are then welded to the bottom and cut to fit the dumpster size. As the bangs from the dumpsters are sounding off in the yard, inside the shop stairs are being assembled. The stairs are made in four different parts: left support, right support, hand rail, and the bottom to hold it all together. Because the stairs have to be the exact same size and shape to ensure a stable stepping apparatus, steel tables have an attached layout of the piece it is made for. The tables help production of stairs to flow quickly and easily. After the four parts are assembled the are taken outside to a rack setup to be washed and painted. The paint then dries overnight and the parts are stacked on pallets and sent away to make room for more. Whether you are painting stairs or banging in dumpsters or working toward a certification, the welding shop is an enjoyable, high energy area to express your building skills and creative mind.