Welding Students Complete Internship at G.H. Tool & Mold

June 20, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Four East Central College welding graduates completed an internship during their final semester, where they thrived while practicing hands-on skills and learning from professionals.

James Baxter, Macey Hargrove, Joelle Phillips and Erica Stockell were welcomed into the G. H. Tool & Mold plant in Washington for four weeks during the spring as part of their Certificate of Achievement in Welding. Each of the four students graduated from ECC in May, and they all received scholarships through the Metallica Scholars Initiative.

According to Bobby Bland, welding program coordinator, the goal of the internship was to learn and experience welding in a practical setting, and witness how a manufacturing plant operates.

“I am very thankful that a company like G.H. Tool has partnered with us to provide our students experience with working on real-world projects and getting the feel of working in a plant with skilled welders,” he said. “As instructors, we can talk about the experience all we want in class, but for students to be in that production environment it is higher education at its finest.”

Employees of G.H. Tool were impressed with the skills the students already had when they walked into the plant, and their enthusiasm for the trade. From the first day of the internship, G.H.’s experienced tradesmen were eager to teach the students even more techniques necessary in a manufacturing setting.

“It was wonderful to see that kind of work ethic from these young people,” said toolmaker Kent Turnbough. “They gave me a real boost, and we all enjoyed working with them.”

“This has been a great experience for everyone involved, and these students have a very bright future,” added Julie Scannell, G.H. Tool human resources director. “We really value our ongoing partnership with ECC, and everything the College has done to respond to the needs of our local manufacturers.”

Student Experience

Phillips, Rolla, worked in several areas of the G. H. Tool plant and learned from every employee she worked with.

“The people have been wonderful, the work enjoyable and the availability of new things to learn has been never ending,” she said. “The number of skills I’ve been able to add to my belt, and words of advice I’ve received from these wonderful people, has been astounding.”

The skills the students experienced during the four-week internship include working with blueprints, sandblasting, using a laser welder; and learning to use tools like micrometers, edge finders, calipers and profilometers.

“Any area I wanted to learn more about, I was allowed and encouraged to go,” Phillips commented. “This internship is something I will always remember and will now be a major part of how I will function as a worker in the future.”

In addition to picking up new skills, the students expanded upon what they already learned about in the welding program through hands-on practice and by watching professionals.

“I observed more comfortable and efficient ways to weld, more specifically different ways to hold the torch, how to rest my hands, or ways to hold the filler metal,” Phillips said. “These simple tips have helped me tremendously and have made me a more efficient welder.

“There was always a way to improve or learn something new and even coming to the end of it I was still learning new things,” she added.

ECC’s Welding Program

ECC offers several affordable options to train for a career in welding, including a Certificate of Achievement and a Certificate of Specialization, both two semesters and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding.

The College also offers a 16-week Fast Track Welding program, in which students meet four days or evenings every week for four months and can earn a Certificate of Specialization.

All ECC’s welding courses are taught in the state-of-the-art welding lab in our Business and Industry Center on the Union campus. There are scholarships and financial aid available.

For more information about the ECC welding program, visit www.eastcentral.edu/career-technical-education/welding/, or contact Bland at 636-649-5810 or bobby.bland@eastcentral.edu.