Taking a TIG welding class in high school gave Barbara a taste of what would later become her career choice. After high school, Barbara worked in the medical field for a time, but came back to learn more about what she really loved doing: welding.
"Welding is really fun, and LBCC has one of the best welding programs in the country. It actually looks harder than it is. I like working with my hands, and find this type of work very rewarding."
Barbara plans to work as a TIG welder for the local industry, with a long-term goal to become a metallurgist, working with the different components of metal.
"I knew nothing about welding when I first came to LBCC's program. Now, after just one year, I'm a pretty good welder and fabricator. I like working with my hands and watching a project come together. Working with the instructors here is like having an expert tell you everything they know. They are really knowledgeable."
Zoe learned her first TIG welding skills as a member of her high school robotics team. She started college with the goal of earning a biology degree, but decided it wasn't for her. Since she liked welding in high school, Zoe changed her major to welding technology.
"Welding has different components to it. It's challenging on several levels: artistic, physical and intellectual. LBCC's program lays a good foundation to build on, and you can go multiple ways with your career."
Zoe plans to work as a TIG welder, with a long-term goal to continue her education and become a weld inspector.
"I really got interested in LBCC's welding program when I competed in the high school skills competition for welders. I took second place and won my helmet and jacket. We got to work in the shop here and meet the instructors. That was when I decided to come to LBCC for the two-year welding degree.
"Welders are in demand, and there's lots of ways you can go in the field. It's a good career choice if you don't want to work in an office all day and don't mind getting a bit dirty. I'm already working part-time as a welder for a local company. If you work hard in the program, the instructors are happy to recommend you for work."
After dropping out of college, Kegan Forrester found the courage to try again — later to graduate from the LBCC welding program with honors and land a well-paying job in the aerospace manufacturing industry.
"Everyone at LBCC encouraged me to keep going,” Kegan said. “The faculty is inspiring and really want to help their students succeed. They aren't just here to collect a paycheck."
Kegan's first try at college was not so great. Although he was doing well in most classes, he struggled in math, eventually deciding to drop out with no intent to return. Being the first in his family to attend college, Kegan felt he was on his own.
However, sometimes it takes trying, failing, and trying again to succeed. Kegan returned to his farm job in Moro, something he knew he could do. But his bosses saw his potential, and with their encouragement, he decided to give college another try. Since he liked welding in high school, this seemed like a good choice.
As it turns out, he found that he could do the math. LBCC industrial programs offer math and writing classes that directly relate to each program, and this time, Kegan got it.
"Welding has its own core classes, including both math and writing for welders, that helped me connect and understand it better," said Kegan. "There were a lot of people who helped me, including math instructor Russ Burchard who often worked with me one-on-one. My welding instructors, Fred Stuewe, Dean Dowless and Dave Ketler were great as well, and helped keep me on track with my schedule."
A few months before finishing the program, Kegan landed a well-paying welding job at a local aerospace manufacturing company. "I love welding. It's a great fit for me at this point in my life," Kegan said.
"My advice for new students is to get to know as many people at the college as possible. They can help you along the way. Getting involved and meeting people helped me to get grants to help pay for school, and helped me get a job. I've made some excellent friends here."
Jose is driven by his passion to learn and motivation to get an education. He’s now a certified welder, and the doors to a good paying job have opened.
With little formal education, Jose came to college to earn his GED. But he didn't stop there. After his youngest son was born, he looked at his life and decided to make a change. "I was working on a small farm at the time, and one of my bosses, who was a welder, said to me that I should continue my education and learn to weld. So I took my placement tests, and signed up for the welding program."