This comprehensive training program includes not only welding technology but also courses for CNC/machinist technicians; electricians; refrigeration, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (RHVAC) practitioners; and maintenance technicians. The college typically has about 300 students enrolled at any given time.
Graduates from EIT’s welding program, which started in 2009, have learned the most common welding processes – MIG (GMAW), TIG (GTAW) and stick (SMAW) – and applications at the foundation, intermediate and advanced levels. They are qualified for such entry-level positions as welder, welding specialist, welding technologist and welding engineer. The school also provides specialized training programs for some of the area’s manufacturers, including General Electric.
“Local manufacturers recognize that a skilled, productive workforce is the key to keeping U.S. jobs,” says Rick Griffith, EIT’s owner. “It all comes down to industry specific training for the latest technologies on the most advanced equipment available.”
The key to success for any welding training programs lies in the design – and quality – of the facility itself. EIT offers 15 welding booths equipped with a variety of welders from Lincoln Electric, including:
- Five POWER MIG® 350MP wire welder units
- Seven Invertec® V350-PRO and LF-72 wire feeder packages
- Invertec® V350-PRO and DH-10 wire feeder package
- Invertec® V310-T AC/DC TIG welder
- Precision TIG® 275 TIG welder
- Pro-Cut® 80 plasma cutter
Future equipment purchases, according to EIT officials, will include submerged arc welders and also Lincoln Electric’s VRTEX™ 360 virtual reality arc welding (VRAW™) training system.
“We use only high-end, state-of-the-art systems,” he says. “We have major manufacturers, such as General Electric, relying upon our training programs to provide students – either for new hires or their current employees – with the most up-to-date education. We have to have the best technology possible in order to achieve this.”
“The old systems sounded like a jet engine,” Webber notes. “It would be hard to talk while students are welding. Plus a lot of welding is done by sound. For example, a good MIG weld sounds similar to the sound of bacon sizzling on a griddle. If you hear that sound, you know it’s going well. If it’s sputtering, you have problems and need to make adjustments to your wire speed, voltage or arc length. If you as an instructor can’t hear this because of a loud fume extraction system, you wouldn’t know which students might need help, or you would have to shut down the whole system, talk with the students and then power back up.”
It’s this kind of careful attention to training that makes EIT a goto source when Erie-area manufacturers are looking for new skilled workers or want to upgrade the skill sets for their existing employees.
“The need for qualified welders is huge,” Griffiths says. “And we’re the ones training them. Our success hinges on having state-of-the-art equipment in our programs. We can’t settle for anything less. No one else in the area or possibly even the state of Pennsylvania has this level of technology.”
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