Brice Dallke, a welding instructor at Flint Hill Technical College in Emporia, Kansas, knows the power school's welding technology program. After all, he received his associate's degree in welding technology from Flint Hills. 

"We've got very advanced facilities," Dallke says. "We can teach a lot of processes that are very new. We teach robotics there. I teach CNC programming, as well as we can teach RND welding, so all three of those are very big up and coming — the robotics, especially."

Keeping students ahead of the game is essential and the program's advisory committee keeps instructors up-to-date on what's happening in the industry and what the school should be teaching its students in order to prepare them for life after college.

The welding technology program, which is led by American Welding Society-certified instructors, boasts two offerings: a technical certificate and an associate's degree. The technical certificate, which takes one year to obtain, covers the basics of each welding process, including basic stick welding and wire process. 

"Our students get qualifications as they go through each part of the course so all of our students have the ability to qualify in the 3G and 4G positions in each process," he adds.

Those seeking to obtain an associate's degree can expect full days of welding education during their first year, followed by welding for half the day and general education for the second half during year two. 

"We're very flexible with working with students in that regard. So it's different for every student," Dallke says of the associate's degree program. "We've got a lot of different pathways they can take, so we've got a lot of high school students that are coming to our welding program." 

The high schoolers spend the first half of their day in high school and head over to the college for the second half of their day, so they can get a certificate in two years. 

"They can come for their last two years of high school and then they can graduate high school and the college with the technical certificate at the same time," he says. They would then come back the following year for general education classes in he morning and welding classes in the afternoon.

Hands-on opportunities are essential in welding, so with each new process the students spend a couple of weeks in the classroom learning about the process, then head to the shop. Each student gets his or her own welding booth — there are 20 students in each class.

They receive a list of assigned welds they have to do to work them up to getting those certifications. Generally most classes have anywhere from 15 to 25 weld assignments to do each quarter. 

"In their first year, they are getting so much new knowledge, they are not normally quite ready to apply that into real-world scenarios," he says, but by the second year, students get to work on outside projects to get that real-world experience. 

For those who have taken welding somewhere else and already have the skills taught in the technical certificate, you can test out and skip out on the whole first year. For more information, visit the welding program's page on Flint Hills' website for more information on the program or to apply.