Texas School Makes Miller PipeWorx® the Center of Weld Lab Expansion
Tarrant County College Welding Technology doubles the size of its program and invests in Miller machines recognizing that demand for new pipe welders exceeds the available skilled workforce.
The welding program at Tarrant County College in Ft. Worth, Texas doubled its available weld lab space in January of 2011, with an expansion of more than 3,000 square feet and the purchase of several dozen Miller welding machines thanks to a state funded grant. The new classroom space, completed in January of 2011, was quickly gobbled up by eager students looking to receive a well-rounded welding education that includes the latest in the growing need for pipe welders.
The welding lab addition was made possible by a Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) grant. The SECO grant was made available to schools like TCC that feature energy sector training centers, focused on teaching students skills applicable to the oil and gas and renewable fuels industries. TCC has been training oil industry welders for decades.
Building a Welding Program from the Ground Up
Charles Credicott arrived at TCC long before the shortage of welders. He was hired by TCC in 1976 to build a welding program for the school. Today Credicott oversees a capacity class of 219 students seeking to become basic certified welders, advanced certified welders or seeking the schools two-year associate applied science degree.
The lab expansion has brought the school quickly to the top of the line when it comes to lab set-up and modern, state-of-the-art facilities. The size of the investment is already paying dividends for the students who are graduating with a set of skills that make them employable.
“Welding is a skill you can take with you for the rest of your life,” says Credicott, “I have dedicated my career to education because I take satisfaction everyday in knowing I am giving these young people skills that will keep them employable for life.”
Those life skills, as Credicott calls them, include a versatile range of welding skills. He says a welder must be able to jump from Stick to TIG, move from pipe work to auto repair in order to adjust and remain a viable hire as the employment landscape changes with the times and the needs. So when he had a chance to create a widely versatile and larger weld lab he turned to Miller District Manager Scott Wright to outfit his workroom with Miller welders and equipment.
The Right Equipment and Service
“Scott and Miller were outstanding, they came in, looked at our need and helped us bring in the right machines,” said Credicott. “They installed the machines, made sure they were set-up properly, and then Scott went through detailed how-to demonstrations. He didn’t just point to a manual and say good luck; we fired them up and he showed us how to use the machines the right way.”
The Miller line-up inside the TCC welding lab is extensive, in addition to the 16 PipeWorx systems, the TCC welding lab line-up includes 10 Millermatic® 350P MIG units, an assortment of XMT® multi-process welders, Syncrowave® TIG machines, Dynasty® TIG systems, Spectrum Plasma Cutters, Bernard MIG Guns, and Weldcraft TIG Torches.
“You might say I’m a Blue kind of guy,” says Credicott. “I have always been partial to Miller products because of the reliability, ease of use through the user interface, and the ease of maintenance is second to none. The machines are always ready to perform at optimum levels. The arc is right on across the board. And when you have a machine that gives you a great arc, every time, its and outstanding way to go about learning.”
The PipeWorx System was perfect for what Credicott needed; a versatile machine that would give his students top of the line training in multiple processes. The PipeWorx Stick, TIG, MIG, RMD™, Pro-Pulse™ and Flux Cored multi-process ability gives the students the capability to practice and learn across a wide range of pipe welding applications. The superior arc performance and stability is perfect for studying traditional stick, DC TIG, MIG and DC Flux Cored welding processes. The students find the Regulated Metal Deposit (RMD) and Pro-Pulse™ functions easy to understand and use during lab time. The instructors find the students are creating good welds in quicker fashion with less hassle finding the right arc.
“The students need to have a good understanding of the latest technology out there for pipe welding because it is changing,” says Credicott. “I felt like these machines offered the best opportunity for my students to learn advanced technology.”
The Pro-Pulse with its shorter arc length, narrow arc cone and less heat input than traditional Pulse welding is more user friendly for the student welder. The Pro-Pulse reduces the potential for heat distortion in a project allowing the apprentice to better concentrate on weld quality and less worry about distorting the material.
The RMD patented process creates a stable arc and weld puddle requiring less manipulation by the welder, perfect for a student with little experience handling a weld puddle. Learning the RMD process is important for the students leaning toward a career in pipe welding, as it is fast becoming the method of choice over traditional slower and more skill intensive TIG process for pipe root passes.
“The RMD and Pro-Pulse versatility of the machine is used extensively in my advanced classes, the students go from basic ability to outstanding welders in a short amount of time,” said Credicott. “The controls, the interface is so easy to use. It is literally a touch of a button, no disconnect, and you can go from Stick to TIG and back to MIG so easily.”
The switch from one process to another no longer requires the change out of guns and cables like with older machines. The PipeWorx interface simplifies the setup and makes changing processes a simple press of a button.
The PipeWorx memory functions mean that time consuming set-up processes are a thing of the past. Once a process is set-up on one machine, a memory card can be used to ensure that all of the lab machines are set correctly.
Credicott says the machines are a great plus for the students and the staff, “we instructors love it because the machines are so simple and straight forward for the user, the student is welding, not going back and forth, struggling with his settings. He’s getting his classwork done – the welding he needs to do not struggling just to get started.”
Jon Cookson is a new instructor on staff at TCC but has dedicated his teaching career to welding. He has brought his two decades of experience from a school in Virginia. He is excited about the investment in Miller, and, specifically the Pipeworx. He sees the cutting-edge technology behind the machines as a major selling point for recruiting students. Potential recruits will see that they will get a hands-on education in a fast growing segment of the welding industry.
“From wind energy to pipelines, the ability to weld pipe is crucial today,” said Cookson. “The way these PipeWorx machines are so easy to use and easy to understand, they simplify the process allowing the student to concentrate on the welding and not the welding machine. He learns quicker because the machine is working with him, not against him.”
Specifically Cookson sees a reduction in set-up time for the students allowing them to get to actual welding time. The student’s pick-up the process quicker and instructors see an immediate improvement in welding quality. The student is putting down better quality welds in a shorter amount of lab time than ever before.
Credicott says the addition a year ago has been a big boost to his program, and he doesn’t think he’s done just yet. He knows he has a partner in Miller who he says has really support education at TCC and schools across the country. With the evidence of the need for welders growing daily in the employment want-ads in Texas and across the country, you can bet Credicott will be looking to Miller to help him teach the next generation of welders how to do it right and learn a skill that they will have throughout their working life.