SOUTH HOLLAND | A brand new welding lab, complete with a high tech welding simulator, will be ready for student use when the spring semester begins at South Suburban College on Jan. 13.
Through an Illinois Green Economy Network grant, the college was able to purchase equipment for eight welding booths, each complete with its own ventilation system.
Also purchased was a VRTEX 360 virtual reality welding simulator for which Tom Govan, the dean who will oversee the welding program, could hardly contain his excitement.
"You put on the helmet, you put on the mask, and it simulates every type of weld you could ever make," Govan said. "The only thing you're missing on this machine here is the heat."
Stephanie Wiedeman, the IGEN grant coordinator, said the simulator cuts down on wasted materials.
"It really is a fun way to learn," she said.
Wiedeman will oversee three certificate programs made possible through the IGEN grant: a Green Entrepreneur certificate, an Industrial/Brownfield Safety, Land Reuse and Public Health Certificate and a Green Building Construction Certificate.
The Industrial/Brownfield certificate requires a welding class component.
Govan said SSC is hopeful it will have a complete welding program in place come fall.
He said the college has not had a welding program for over 20 years but that a need was realized.
"There are plenty of jobs out there, according to the Department of Labor, for welders," Govan said. "Our welding population out there now is getting older and they're retiring and a lot of students aren't going into welding."
He said welding can be a tough job due to the heat and training involved, but can provide steady work.
"As long as you're working with steel and metal, you're gonna need somebody to weld these things," Govan said.
The eight student limit for the spring class that begins Jan. 13 has already been reached, but Govan said the class would likely be opened up to 12 total students.
Govan is excited to have Lisa Moran on board to teach the college's welding class.
"I find it's very rare to have a female welding teacher," he said. "She's so highly qualified."