HAMILTON, Ill. -- Cole Cashman grinded off the slag leftover from a previous weld before he continued working on his project.
The senior at Hamilton High School is enrolled in new industrial maintenance courses at the school, and though he has welded before, he wants to improve his skills.
"I just want to enhance my ability more," Cashman said. "I'm hoping to work at Knapheide when I get out of high school."
An agreement with Carl Sandburg College allows students enrolled in the classes to earn dual credit toward a certificate in basic industrial and manufacturing maintenance.
Principal Shelli Jennings said the certificate opportunity offered to juniors and seniors will be beneficial to those that seek employment in manufacturing after high school
"They can go in and do problem solving with the large machines (employers) have and know how to fix lots of different problems," Jennings said. "This is a direct result of trying to meet some of our local industry needs and also the needs of our students."
This is the first time a welding class has been offered at Hamilton High School in about five years.
Teacher Carl Thomas said the program has been supported by area employers, including Knapheide Manufacturing, which donated three welders for the classes along with "knock outs" -- scrap pieces generated when manufacturing truck bodies and beds -- for students to practice on.
Thomas said the seven students taking the classes were working on T-joint welds and lap welds, in order to become used to stick welding.
"The hardest thing is to learn how to gauge your welding rods from the material so it doesn't stick," Thomas said. "It's hard to do, but once you get onto it, it's pretty cool."SClBCashman already sees the differences in his technique.
"Carl has definitely taught us a lot," he said. "He taught us how to T-joint weld and how to place our hands better in order to weld more efficiently."
This semester, the high school is offering electrical fundamentals, fundamentals of welding theory and welding survey classes. Next semester, technical mathematics and industrial safety is being taught.
John Massie is teaching students in electrical foundations. An electrician since 1949, Massie said the students are excited as they start learning skills they can apply at home. Students even helped the industrial arts classroom with his supervision.
"We worked to fix the welding booth lights," Massie said.
Deb Miller, dean of Extension Services at Carl Sandburg said the program was designed with regional industry partners.
"These partners indicated a need to recruit employees who have basic knowledge in technical math, electrical theory, safety, welding, and machine tooling," Miller said. "Therefore, the goal of this certificate is to provide training in these areas so students are ready to go directly to work in an entry level position in industry or manufacturing where they can be trained to fill specific needs of a business or company or they can continue their training to develop more advanced skills."
Because Carl Sandburg College was selected in an experimental program, students enrolled in the dual credit program will be able to access federal Pell Grants to help cover the costs of the credits at the college.