Press Room

July 19, 2012 - Careers in Welding Featured at State Fair Beginning July 31 COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Beyond the midway thrills and the ever-present butter sculpture, this year's Ohio State Fair will have a new attraction -- one designed to have a more lasting impression. The Careers in Welding Trailer contains virtual simulators and other interactive exhibits designed to inspire fairgoers -- young and old -- about welding as a potential career. The trailer's visit to the state fair is sponsored by the American Welding Society, Lincoln Electric and the 4-H Youth Development program of Ohio State University Extension. It made its debut at FABTECH in Chicago in November 2011 and has traveled throughout the U.S. since. The trailer will be at the state fair for a limited time, from Tuesday, July 31, through Sunday, Aug. 5. It will be stationed near the Youth Center at the Cardinal Gate entrance (Gate 1) at the north end of the fairgrounds. The trailer contains four simulators with virtual welding guns and helmets. Participants practice welding in virtual environments and earn a score for their performance. At the state fair, Ohio 4-H will offer prizes to those earning the highest daily scores. "We're targeting events that we believe will hit both youth and adults considering a second career," said Monica Pfarr, corporate director of workforce development for the American Welding Society. "We want to get people excited about a possible career in welding." And it appears to be working. At a recent FFA conference, "we had a line out the trailer for three straight days," she said. "It's kind of like a video game for them. Once they try it and get their score and other feedback, they're either excited about how well they've done or want to try it again. "Welding isn't something really easy to do -- it takes practice and training. But people often come out of the trailer saying it's something they want to pursue." Randall Reeder, faculty emeritus in Ohio State's Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, said welders are in high demand, particularly those who work in the field. "It's partly because so many are of retirement age and companies have difficulty finding qualified replacements," Reeder said. "The expansion of oil and gas drilling is creating many new welding jobs, with high incomes. And welders who are willing to relocate, to North Dakota for example, can earn well over $100,000 a year. These jobs are growing in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, too." Other job opportunities include welders in food processing, ventilation systems and even on dairy farms, he said. In addition, companies in the welding supply business, such as Lincoln Electric, are hiring welding experts in sales, training and design engineering, Reeder said. Pfarr said the simulators might be the hook to get people inside the trailer, but there's much more inside, as well, including information about potential earnings according to different educational levels; welding scholarship information; trivia questions, fun facts and industry artifacts; a “Day in the Life of a Welder” exhibit with videos depicting real-life environments in which welders work; and a social media kiosk allowing visitors to take their photo and post to Facebook or email to a friend. The Ohio State Fair runs from July 25 through Aug. 5. ¬≠It is located at the Ohio Expo Center at 717 East 17th Ave., Columbus. For more information about career opportunities in welding, see http://www.explorewelding.com/. To see a video of about the trailer when it was at FABTECH Canada in March, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tcmOlxMp7Eo.
July 19, 2012 - aveling Truck Exhibit Drives Workforce Development In manufacturing industries, trying to promote growth in the profession by pointing people to a webpage or a social network just won't do. Such careers are inherently hands-on, and so too must be the outreach to the next generation of workers. The American Welding Society (AWS) has embraced this approach in a big way. This summer, a full-size tractor-trailer will visit state fairs, auto races, airshows, and tradeshows across the United States to introduce new career seekers to the welding profession. The tour is more than a PR campaign. Monica Pfarr, corporate director for workforce development at AWS, says the trailer is a "mobile exhibit," designed to be an interactive experience that excites young minds and puts the opportunities in the profession on full display. AWS partnered with MRA Experiential Tours & Equipment to design and build the exhibit.   When parked, the 53-foot trailer expands to approximately 650 square feet. About 25 to 30 people can explore inside at one time. Inside, visitors play a virtual-reality welding game created by Lincoln Electric, AWS's main partner for the exhibit. Players don a welder's helmet with an internal monitor, where they see a welding environment such as a factory, racecar pit lane, or military base. The controller is shaped like a welding torch, and fellow visitors can see the player's welding performance on screens at each game station. And like any good video game, players compete for high scores based on the quality of their welds. Four staff run the exhibit at each stop: two MRA employees who drive the truck and operate the exhibit, one AWS employee who travels separately, and a Lincoln Electric sales representative from the nearest region. Inside the trailer are educational exhibits with videos and quizzes about welding careers. The "Careers Wall" is sponsored by Weld-Ed: The National Center for Welding Education and Training, a collaboration of schools, government agencies, and industry members funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The exhibit includes a social media kiosk, where visitors can get their photo taken, receive a copy via email, and post it to Facebook or Twitter. Visitors are encouraged to continue exploring the profession online. They can learn about welding careers at www.careersinwelding.com, see current job opportunities at www.jobsinwelding.com, and follow the truck tour at www.explorewelding.com. AWS sees a spike in traffic at  careersinwelding.com after each event the trailer visits, Pfarr says. The truck has also proven to be a nice lobbying tool, so far visiting legislators in Michigan and Ohio. Above, Ohio Governor John R. Kasich speaks with students in the exhibit in February. MRA hired two interns studying welding technology at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to help build and weld the trailer during its assembly in summer 2011. The truck will embark on a 20-week tour this summer. Highlights include the Indianapolis 500, Ohio State Fair, AirVenture Airshow, SkillsUSA, International Manufacturing Technology Show, and Future Farmers of America National Convention and Expo. Joe Rominiecki is a senior editor for Associations Now. Email: jrominiecki@asaecenter.org. Photos courtesy of American Welding Society and MRA Experiential Tours & Equipment.