Ratty coveralls soaked in sweat and soot. Blinding sparks careening off a white-hot ball of energy mere inches from your face. A plume of smoke perpetually mingling around
the acrid smell of melted metal and a steady stream of
crude jokes. A blue-collar yoke tying you to middling pay
and manual labor.
Mention the word “welding” to anyone outside the
industry and this is the image it inevitably creates. But,
like with so many other fields in today’s advanced manufacturing world, that image is far out of date.
With around two decades of experience behind him,
Jason Scales, the business manager for educational
solutions at Lincoln Electric, knows these dirty, dark,
and dangerous stereotypes all too well.
“A grumpy old, dirty industry—that’s still what a lot of
people imagine welding to be,” the former agriculture
mechanics teacher says. “But welding is a far advanced
industry, very scientific with a lot of technology in it, and
it often is a clean environment.”
This is a familiar story in manufacturing today—tainted
by outdated notions and bad PR, manufacturing lead-
ers find themselves forced to constantly evangelize the
progress and potential of these critical industries just
to keep the applicant pool alive.
But now, Scales and the rest of Lincoln Electric have
a new tool at their disposal to help do away with these
It comes in the form of Lincoln Electric’s brand new
$30 million Welding Technology & Training Center—a
facility custom designed to provide the most advanced,
tech-filled, science-based environment for welders of
every tier, from recent high school grads who have never
held a torch to seasoned pros.
Essentially, this will put all that evangelizing into action,
creating a new generation of welders who truly under-
stand the latest tools and technologies of the trade,
plus trainers qualified to take those lessons to plants
far outside the program’s direct reach.
Focusing on education might seem beyond the purview
of a manufacturer, but Scales says for too long he’s heard
conflicting reports from schools who say their welding
students can’t find jobs and manufacturers who say they
can’t find people to fill welding jobs.
“That tells me there’s a disconnect between what’s
going on in education at some institutions and what the
industry truly needs from that institution,” Scales says.
And this school, like the industry it serves, is all about
fusing together what was once separate and providing
a solid foundation on which to build.
NO TRAIN, NO GAIN
Situated just across the street from the company head-
quarters in Euclid, Ohio, Lincoln Electric’s 130,000-ft²,
two-story Welding Technology & Training Center boasts
166 welding and cutting booths, 13 classrooms, six seminar rooms, a 100-seat auditorium, a cafeteria, and supply
store. During a December tour of the building, Scales
gets especially giddy pointing out a real first for Lincoln’s
welding school: showers. Welding is a lot cleaner than
stereotypes will have believe, but you’ll still use a 6,500°
F torch tip to liquefy metal. Sweat and smoke are to be
expected, and one wouldn’t want to give people the wrong
Over time, every type of welding certificate will be
available to earn, and robotic welding programming will
figure prominently in future curricula.
The sprawling facility—part college campus and part
product showcase—will serve dual functions: first, as
training ground for welding educators, new students,
and upskilling professionals; and secondly, as an applied
science lab where Lincoln can gather a more intimate
understanding of how welders of every experience level
interact with their equipment.
Neither strategy is new to the world’s foremost welding
company, which has been in the training game since
1917 when it began bestowing the basics to WWI soldiers and sailors. But by combining both under one roof,
Scales says Lincoln’s latest incarnation of its 101-year-
old program (the longest continuously run program in
existence) is “taking it to the next level.”
by John Hitch
If dirty, dark and dangerous is what you picture when someone mentions welding, then
prepare to be educated on one of the hottest manufacturing careers of the next decade.
The REALWELD welding training
system gives students instant
feedback on fve parameters
and allows instructors to track
progress. This is one tool Lincoln
Electric will use at its new Welding
Technology & Training Center to
speed up training time.