Students hone their skills JDUB Academy

John Wood's Ron Kraft tells Kaleb Willing how to bend a rod Thursday during a JDUB Academy class at the John Wood Workforce Development Center. Kids in the learned about welding and were able to make their own items such a baseball bat, stool and hammer. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 21, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Jillian Kirkpatrick carefully slid the metal rod into the clamp, quickly tightened by a fellow student, then waited for the perfect time.

When the metal glowed red from the welder's torch operated by another student, Jillian walked a careful path Thursday holding the rod and bending it into a 90-degree angle -- perfect for cooking hot dogs.

"It's a bit too hard and a little bit slower with just two people," the 15-year-old said.

Projects like bending nails into a necklace and horseshoes into a cell phone holder, along with the hot dog sticks, all done with basic welding skills are part of Nuts Bolts and Thingsamajigs STEM camp, one of several classes offered this year.

The class uses welding, along with guest speakers and a field trip to Manchester Tank, as a way to introduce students to manufacturing and "the idea they can use their own ideas, put together a plan and make their prototype into a reality," JDUB Coordinator Kathleen Rodgers said.

Jillian, who will be in 10th grade at Quincy High School, took the class last year and came back for a second time as the only girl in the group.

"I had a lot of fun, and I kind of want to broaden my horizons when it comes to potential careers," she said. "You don't really hear about welding too often."

Another repeat student, 15-year-old Logan Means, found out that listening to his mom has some advantages.

"My mom kind of made me (come), but I think I might be doing a career in welding," he said.

New student Ryan Caldwell, 14, also got some encouragement from his mom to take the class.

"I actually learned a lot," Ryan said. "I made a baseball bat."

Instructors Ron Kraft and Ryan Willing teach basic welding and proper safety measures when working around metal heated to 3,200 degrees.

"I like to see them think outside the box. I let them come up with new ideas, go with it and see if they can figure it out on their own," said Kraft, a welder for 30 years in his third year of working with JDUB students.

Creating their own projects helps students explore a potential career path.

"There's so many different options within welding," Kraft said. "Not every student wants to go do a four-year degree. In the welding field, you can get out in a year and be making almost the same money you can with a four-year degree."

Not far away from the welders, 10 students aged 8 to 10 were making their own videogames in a JDUB class offered in partnership with Black Rocket Productions.

"They've teamed together," instructor Don Martin said. "This is what we've taught the class, and they put it into applications."

Students created platforms then built their games complete with "sprites," or small moving characters, to go through doors into different worlds complete with music.

"It's really fun," said 9-year-old Vincent Edmondson, who is going into fourth grade at St. Francis School.

Vincent never thought he'd make his own videogame, and when asked about whether he'd make another, he had a one-word answer: "Probably."