It was an eventful time last Thursday. A selected group from our 8th and 9th grade Computer Science classes were treated to a field trip to the Welding Technology Laboratory at Mountain View College here in Dallas. It was an opportunity for my students to ramp up their learning to include working with metal. For those students who really liked soldering our small electronic components for their rovers, they would absolutely love what was in store for them.
You may ask me, "why take the students to a welding shop"? The simple answer to that is I wanted to expose them to real hands-on work. Welding is a skill that few people experience and I wanted the students to see, hear and experience working with metals. Manufacturing, Engineering, Metallurgy and Art all combined into a single discipline. Those students who have interests in STEM careers or more precisely, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) careers participated in our field trip.
The college rolled out the red carpet for us. The instructors of the welding lab gave excellent examples of welding and cutting techniques. College liaison officers came to talk with the students, the deans from various departments we met on our tour and even the president of the college met with the students.
The welding lab is what you would expect a typical welding and metallurgical shop would look like. Lots of welding and cutting equipment. Shop safety is paramount, so all the students came in jeans or long pants, long sleeved shorts, closed shoes or boots and eye protection. UV curtains were surrounded the welding tables to protect the students from the harmful UV radiation given off by the arc welding process. We even brought our own Arduino and UV sensors to measure the UV index given off by the Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) process or commonly referred to as MIG welding. For those who were interested, the MIG welder produced a UV index value of between 3 and 4. According to the EPA, that translates to a moderate UV index rating. The oxy fuel torch, not so much as most of the energy is from visible light and heat.
Our instructors for the day were Dwayne Roy, head of the welding program, Ron Henderson, head lab instructor and Holly Stevens. And what were we going to make? Robots and Minions, of course. Something that combined metal working with art. Holly was noticing it was fun to watch Dwayne and Ron compete to see which one could do the best design for the students...they were both great!
After the demonstrations, it was on to lunch and a campus tour. I chose to remain in the cafeteria area to keep an eye on all of our personal effects. Little did I realize that a group of the kids missed the tour group. So, we decided just to hang out in the cafeteria, talk...and have some KitKats from the campus store :-)