The welding training trailer was one of 10 state government programs recognized during a July 30 awards luncheon hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and sponsored by the Bush Foundation.
“The mobile welding trailer redefines education, as we’re trying to take education to the student,” said G.L. Tucker, director of M State’s Custom Training Services. “We see this as the way of the future.”
Nearly 300 men and women have been trained in the college’s welding trailer since it went on the road in May 2013. Tucker said CTS developed the trailer to meet industry training needs in the college’s 19-county region and to provide education to workers who were unable to enroll in on-campus or credit-based courses.
The college has partnered with workforce centers, state agencies, businesses and high schools to provide the training, which generally is free to the students.
The trailer, a converted refrigerated semi-trailer, houses 12 training stations where instructor Josh Heibel teaches welding skills in sessions that range from 16 to 160 hours.
“A ‘typical’ training is whatever is needed,” Tucker said. “We can customize the curriculum to meet the needs of the students and the companies.”
The top three State Government Innovation Award winners also included the Minnesota Board on Aging for a program that assists people moving home from long-term care facilities and the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a process that speeds up bridge construction. The mobile welding trailer and the other two top award winners were recognized with program videos created by the state.
“We really feel this is invaluable for businesses,” Tucker said. “It has probably exceeded our expectations as far as demand. At the same time, students are able to get jobs and careers in welding. By all measures we would say this has been very successful for us and for the students we serve.”
Given the success of the CTS welding trailer, M State is using grant funds to develop three additional mobile trailers to provide training related to commercial driver’s licenses, industrial/construction workplace safety and precision measurement/manufacturing.