Science Hill senior Caroline Powell helps points to a piece of metal as welding teacher Brent Sluder looks on.

Science Hill students putting welding skills to use this holiday season

Creating holiday keepsakes are just one of the many opportunities that Science Hill welding students have when they enter Brent Sluder’s welding shop.

The eager smiles of students molding metal are in all corners of the shop as they work on their projects ranging from a simple introductory weld to customizing a bumper for an FJ Cruiser. But as Sluder surveys the shop, he notes the most important thing happening is the exposure students are having to a possible career.

“When kids come in here, it is normally their first experience with welding,” Sluder said. “Our goal is to introduce them to a skill that they could possibly make into a career and let them get their feet wet.”

Science Hill senior Caroline Powell is not planning to make a career out of welding, she is going the college route, but that didn’t stop her from testing the waters to see what welding had to offer.

“To dip our toes into this, in high school, lets us kind of see what we are in for and if this is something that we want to go into after high school,” said Powell, who is creating a custom bumper for her FJ. “This class has taught me that you don’t necessarily have to go to a 4-year college. There are so many different options. This class definitely prepares you to go into welding as a career choice and it opens up a lot of opportunities for a lot of students.”

The American Welding Society predicts that there will be a shortage of 291,000 skilled welders by the year 2020. Sluder admitted that welding may not be the most glamourous line of work, but it can provide students with the financial stability they seek.

“It can be dirty work,” Sluder said through a smile, “but a lot of our graduates are able to enter the workforce directly from high school or after they spend some time in a postsecondary program.”

Currently the class is spending their free time fulfilling orders for their holiday fundraiser. Sluder and students are able to use their machinery to create custom orders for the public with the proceeds going back into the classroom to try to make the program as self-sustaining as possible.

Science Hill junior Jeb Jones is also planning to take the college route, but he was eager to learn a trait that he might be able to use down the road.

“I wanted to take the class to have a hands-on experience and learn something outside of a notebook and something that you can apply to real life,” Jones said. “That is something that you don’t get to do much of in high school when you’re taking classes like math and science.”

Jones is supplementing his schedule of AP classes with college, career and technical education classes so that he can get a full-spectrum of what the workforce has to offer.

“You don’t know what you are going to do as a job and having opportunities like welding, and the other classes on the CTE campus, help you figure out what your interests are,” Jones said.

Powell said that she was glad that she took a semester of welding before she graduated from Science Hill and encouraged other young ladies to do the same.

“I think it’s something that girls should get into, because it’s not just something that guys can do,” Powell said. “Girls can definitely do just as much, but I just think that a lot of girls these days don’t think that shop class is from them. But me being in it, it’s super cool to learn about.”

The class will be taking orders until Wednesday, December 13. For more information, contact Brent Sluder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the main office at 423-232-2200 ext. 2420.

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