Santa Ana College partners with Lincoln Electric to deliver technologically advanced weld training, unprecedented job placement and an outstanding dedication to its students.
It’s common for students to drive more than 90 miles to take courses at Santa Ana College’s welding technology program. Why do they drive so far? Because at Santa Ana, students get more than just a welding certification – they reap the benefits of personalized attention and a course curriculum that’s 100 percent focused on meeting their personal and professional goals – including successful job placement in an industry hungry for quality, skilled workers.
Quality Technical Education
What’s the secret to Santa Ana’s success? According to Bart Hoffman, Dean of the Human Services & Technology Division, in which the welding technology program is housed, the school’s success starts at the top. Santa Ana’s administration highly values career and technical education programs, providing the resources and support these departments need to succeed and attract students.
Plus, the administration doesn’t lose sight of why students come to college in the first place: to find a good job.
"We live in an area desperate for job training and skilled workers," says Dr. Erlinda J. Martinez, president of Santa Ana College. "In this economy, welding offers students an entry point to the workplace in a relatively short period of time. In my opinion, the goal of our college is to give our students the skills they need to be able to find a good job and earn competitive wages, and that’s what we do through our technical education programs."
Moreno has been with the college since 2001 and has served as the program’s head instructor for almost five of those years. In addition to Moreno, the welding technology program is supported by three other part-time faculty members. Among the four, Santa Ana’s welding instructors have a combined 100 years of welding experience.
The school’s welding curriculum is designed to prepare students to perform the welding processes they’re most likely to need in the workforce. After finishing their coursework at Santa Ana, graduates will be comfortable with a range of welding and cutting processes and equipment, including oxyacetylene welding, stick welding (SMAW), MIG (GMAW), TIG (GTAW) and flame cutting.
Students completely new to welding begin their coursework with eight weeks of oxyacetylene welding, followed by an eight-week course focusing on arc welding and cutting.
"The VRTEX® systems have been hugely beneficial to our program," says Moreno. "Students can first practice their welding skills without any fear of the actual process, so, when it’s time to put their skills to the test with actual welding equipment, they have the confidence they need to do well, and they pick up skills much faster. Plus, we don’t have to waste consumables, plates or gas."
At Santa Ana College, students can receive training and testing for up to nine different certifications, including SMAW (Stick), FCAW (Flux-Cored), GTAW (TIG), and GMAW (MIG) welding. In general, it takes about two years for students to receive their certification.
"If we want our students to do their best we have to train them with the latest technology and Lincoln Electric has been able to provide us with what we need.” Moreno says. "We don’t want our students' skills to be out-of-date when they go out into the workforce. Plus, Lincoln Electric’s equipment is very user-friendly, which makes it easy for our students to learn."
In addition to the latest equipment, Moreno also focuses on making the school’s welding program more environmentally friendly. Right now, the lab is about 25 percent composed of green technology and Moreno says he hopes to increase that percentage to 80 percent by the end of 2012. Eventually, he hopes that the program will be 100 percent green.
However, despite the lab’s high-tech equipment and the wide variety of courses, at the end of the day, what really makes Santa Ana’s program unique is Moreno and his staff’s focus on individualized attention and their willingness to meet the needs of every student.
"If students are looking for an easy way out, they need to look somewhere else. Here, you need to work hard to get your certificate," says Moreno.
Industry and Community Outreach
And that’s probably why Santa Ana students are in such high demand – when they graduate, employers know that they’re skilled. Moreno receives multiple calls per week from local companies requesting students to fill their open positions and his students have been placed everywhere from as close as California and Nevada to as far away as Brazil.
Though Santa Ana’s program already serves about 200 students, Moreno never stops looking for the next generation of welders, participating in a variety of recruiting efforts throughout the school year. One of the most notable is the college’s outreach to local high schools. Six to ten times a year, Moreno offers welding seminars at local high schools to teach teens about the advantages of a career in welding.
When he goes, Moreno often brings along the VRTEX® system, as well as a Lincoln Electric Robotic Welding Education Cell, so students can get a feel for welding right then and there. Some of the students Moreno meets opt to take courses at Santa Ana College along with their regular high school courses – one of Moreno’s youngest students is a 17-year-old welder who already has been fully certified by the American Welding Society.
Breaking Gender Stereotypes
While the majority of his welding students are male, Moreno doesn’t forget about the female half of the spectrum. He makes a point to recruit female students when he visits local high schools, encouraging them to participate and even assist him with the demonstrations.