RCC’s Welding program is growingJul 24, 2023
Colleges across the country usually have a waitlist of students wanting to enroll in welding, according to Rockingham Community College Applied and Industrial Technologies Department Chair David Dillard.
And now RCC is making strides to meet the needs of students aiming for a welding career with what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports as a median salary of $47,010.
Currently, the College has 17 welding booths in the Industrial Technologies I (IT-I) building, where the program operates in one of the wings. But as some programs have shifted locations in anticipation of RCC’s Center for Workforce Development slated for completion in March 2024, space opened up in Industrial Technologies II (IT-II), located directly behind IT-I.
“The IT-II building is being gutted and renovated to expand the Welding program, and we will have 40 welding booths,” said Dillard.
This more than doubles RCC’s capacity for Welding students.
Renovations to the Industrial Technologies II building include 40 welding stations, more than doubling the current capacity of 17.
Renovations to IT-II began on Jan. 30. Following interior demolition, a new slab was poured in needed areas and walls were framed. A new transformer will be installed to handle the increased power load from the welding stations, according to Dr. Tony Gunn, RCC associate vice president for Facilities and External Affairs.
As of mid-July, the project stands at 64 percent complete, with plumbing and electrical rough-in work in progress, said Gunn.
“The new roof installation was completed in June, and the project’s focus has shifted toward the installation of the exterior storefront and ceiling grid, along with the ongoing placement of interior lights and construction of the individual welding booths,” he said. “Long lead times for electrical and HVAC items have shifted the project’s tentative completion date to December, with occupancy in spring 2024.”
Construction crews work along the ceiling during renovation of the Industrial Technologies II building.
The nearly $5.6 million project has three major funding sources: $3.6 million from ConnectNC Bond funds, $1.1 million from local quarter-cent sales tax revenues, and $808,000 from State capital improvement money. The project’s cost includes construction and equipment.
And back in April, the project received a boost, thanks to $200,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The funding will go towards welding equipment, adding to RCC’s efforts to significantly increase the number of students in its Welding curriculum program, and to create new continuing education programs.
These funds were awarded through Golden LEAF’s Open Grants Program, and RCC is one of seven projects across the state to receive a portion of $2,359,000.
“Golden LEAF is pleased to support workforce training projects that address skills gaps identified by local employers,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “The new equipment will increase Rockingham Community College’s ability to provide students with the skills and credentials they need to fill available jobs.”
Golden LEAF also awarded more than $2 million to the N.C. Community College System for scholarships for students from rural and suburban counties to attend community colleges. The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For more than 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.
~Gerri Hunt, RCC Director of Public Information