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Welding a future: 'An evening with Industry'

By Will Perkins Glasgow Daily TimesSKYCTC President speaking at podium
GLASGOW Roxanne Mitchell, an eighth-grader at Barren County Middle School, concentrated on making the perfect weld Tuesday evening at the Barren County Area Technology Center, but she was in no danger of hurting herself or others.

Mitchell, 13, was using a welding simulator toward the end of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College's An Evening With Industry.

It was fun and cool to use, Mitchell said. A little bit difficult at first, but it was really fun.
As far as her previous experience with welding, Mitchell said she has done a little, but not much.
It would help me learn how to work better on cars, she said.

Steve Hatcher, professor of welding at SKYCTC in Bowling Green, said the simulator is a great way for students to learn how to weld.

It gives a student an opportunity to learn basic skills and technology related to different welding processes before entering the lab, Hatcher said, adding that students can learn things like the travel speed of welding, work angles, push angles and the distance the gun or the electrode has to be held away from the weld joint.
We teach them all these kinds of things in a classroom setting where it's safe, he said. And we're not using any kind of consumables, so we're not having all that cost of steel, electrodes and gases and stuff like that.
Hatcher said once the students get comfortable with virtual welding, they can move on to the real process.
Prior to gathering in the ATC, there were several speakers in the Barren County High School auditorium. A general theme of the evening was for students to not blindly go to college because that is what they are supposed to do, but to get the education they need for the career they want, whether that education is in the form of college or an apprenticeship.

Higher-ed is not the destination folks, said Phillip Neal, president and CEO of SKYCTC. It's a bridge to something better. The destination is the career.

Don't lose focus of what the goal is here, and that is to establish that career that will support the lifestyle that you want.

Young boy looking at electrical device with lit lightbulb

Derrick Ramsey, secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, said getting a diploma is not the only way to success. He said that apprenticeships can lead to fruitful careers.


We're not saying, 'Don't go to college,' he said. What we're talking about are opportunities.
Ramsey said students who take the apprenticeship path do not have to rule out college because many companies will offer opportunities for employees to further their education.

Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews said the ATC and its future additions provide local students the opportunity to thrive.

Our intention is to expand and to modernize and better equip our existing ATC, he said. And we have other districts that want to access programming that we offer and other locations do not.

Whether it's Glasgow Independent, Barren County Schools, Hart County Schools, Caverna Schools, Metcalfe County Schools, Allen County Schools, people recognize what is taking place right here, right now this evening, because of the work, because of the partnerships, because of the passion of the people that believe this is key to young people's future.