College looks to 'reweld' program
MCC president says instructor quit due to welding classes being revamped
KINGMAN - Mohave Community College has launched a new initiative it hopes will give its welding graduates a better chance at finding work once they finish their degree.
In an attempt to stay up to date with changes in the industry, MCC President Dr. Michael Kearns has announced a plan to shift the classroom/laboratory balance of the college's welding classes, which will require all welding instructors to receive additional training, as well as certification from the American Welding Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the science, technology and application of the trade.
Kearns said the move was precipitated by comments from employers who claimed that some MCC welding graduates were unable to pass important industry tests, or required additional on-the-job training to get their skills in sync with what the employers had expected. They're concerns Kerns said the college's welding advisory committee has been echoing for some time.
"They've told us that our graduates need to have a higher level of skill in some of the areas of welding because the industry has changed. The solar companies talking about coming into the area have standards of what welders have to be able to do, and we want to make sure our students are able to get those jobs," Kearns said. "We've asked our faculty here to take some improvement classes and to become certified welding instructors through the American Welding Society, and we've also consulted with other community colleges in Arizona and asked them for some advice on how we can improve our curriculum to meet the current workforce needs."
Kearns said the college's plan is to rework the amount of time welding students spend in the classroom versus in the lab actually handling the torch.
The goal, he said, is to make sure students learn more of the technical aspects associated with welding, so that when the time comes to take an industry employment test, the student can be assured that they'll pass it.
"You have to have the knowledge, the understanding of the chemistry, the mathematics, the material science, how all the materials work together, as well as how to handle the torch," Kearns said. "We're emphasizing the knowledge the student has to have, as well as the skill."
He added that the overall number of credit hours required for each welding major will remain the same, regardless of the student's emphasis. For those already enrolled in MCC's program, Kearns said faculty and advisers will be working individually with each student to ensure a successful transition to the new course structure.
But that transition has already proven less seamless than the college might have hoped. According to Kearns, the college's sole full-time welding instructor, Richard Presnel, has opted to resign rather than take on the additional certification training. The Miner has also received e-mail claims that the college "forced the resignation of all but one member" of the welding program, a claim Kearns says is false and may have been precipitated by the less-than-ideal terms underlying Presnel's resignation.
"When we talked to our instructor, we told him 'This is where we want to go,' and he said 'I don't want to go there,'" Kearns said. "I think the resident faculty member is resistant to change, and rather than do the change, he's resisting, and so he resigned.
"Whatever he's telling people ... I'm not sure what it is, but nobody forced him to resign," Kearns added. The college has already posted a job listing for Presnel's position and is accepting qualified applicants through May 24 at its human resources Web site, http://mohave.edu/pages/168.asp.
In an effort to cut through some of the confusion and give current students some idea of what to expect, Kearns said MCC will hold a meeting between students and their academic chair at 4 p.m. today in room 401 on the Kingman campus at 1971 Jagerson Ave.
"We're going to try to get the rumors under control and address the questions they have," Kearns said. "They get to hear from us official word of how the program's going to be improved and how it will benefit them."
The college hopes to have the framework of the restructured welding program in place by the fall semester.