By Margaret Morgan
When you think ‘welder,’ you might think Flashdance. But, a quick search of welding projects on Pinterest will widen your perspective. You will see everything from creative sculptures made with mailboxes and other found metal, to intricate iron gates, to metal fire pits that look like the Death Star.
Julio Gonzalez was a pioneer welder. His interest in using welding artistically was sparked by learning to weld while working in the Renault factory, which now makes cars, but at the time was making armaments for the French military. Gonzalez was one of the first artists to work with the metal himself as opposed to working with a foundry, and is considered by some to be the father of iron sculpture. Later in his career, Gonzalez taught his friend Pablo Picasso to use oxy-fuel welding and cutting in his art.
Using these techniques, Picasso was inspired to begin using salvaged metal and found objects to create sculpture.
In addition to creating beautiful works of art, welders work in a wide variety of industries and earn excellent wages. Welders work in manufacturing facilities and in the car industry. Welders also find employment in building things like ships and airplanes, constructing buildings, bridges, and pipelines, and maintaining power plants and refineries. Having welding skills means having the opportunity to obtain a job.
The work that welders do and the equipment they use vary depending on the industry. The most common and simplest type of welding today, arc welding, uses electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together—but there are more than one hundred different processes that a welder can use. The type of weld is normally determined by the types of metals being joined and the conditions under which the welding is to take place. As you go throughout your day, try to count the number of items you pass or with which you interact that were welded. You will be amazed at what an essential role welding has to play in modern life.
If you are interested in learning how to weld, Athens Technical College is the place for you. We offer Technical Certificates of Credit (TCCs) in shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten welding, and gas metal arc welding. You can also earn a diploma or an associate degree. Welding is currently available on the Elberton campus of Athens Technical College and I am excited to announce that the program will be available on the Athens campus in the 2016-2017 academic year. Having the program on two campuses will allow us to better meet the huge need for welders in the greater Athens area. For more detailed information on the welding program visit the Athens Technical College campus or www.AthensTech.edu.
Margaret Morgan is Dean of the Division of Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing at Athens Technical College. She has been with the college for over 20 years serving as a mathematics faculty member and director of instruction. Dr. Morgan received her PhD in Mathematics Education from The University of Georgia. She resides in Athens with her husband and son.