Waller HS Metal Shop Connects Students, Community
When Waller High School (WHS) began its welding program over 10 years ago there were only about six students in the program three periods a day. Today, hundreds have completed the program and more than 300 are currently enrolled filling WHS classrooms and metal shops all day every day.
“It’s a big deal,” WHS welding teacher Eric Geigley said. “Not all of my students will continue on to college. I get them for an hour and 45 minutes each day and with that we can do a lot. They learn a trade that can launch their career, but more than that they learn to take pride in doing something well and gain confidence to go out and contribute to the world.”
In 2018, 183 American Welding Society (AWS) certifications were earned by WHS students. Students start in Principles of Manufacturing and work their way up to Welding 1 and Welding 2 where they learn and master levels of welding certifications from 1F to 3G.
“We run our advanced courses just like a manufacturing facility,” Geigley said. “They (the students) have deadlines and learn how to perform at a high level.”
Students learn all aspects of welding and manufacturing from basics to metal grinding, plasma design and cutting, powder coating, and more. The class takes specialized orders for any metal project from decorative signage to barbecue pits. If you can dream it, they can do it. They follow Daikin’s 5s methodology for shop management: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
“We teach them early that staying organized; knowing where all your materials and tools are is part of being a good welder,” Geigley said. “We’re pretty successful at helping those who want to make a career out of welding get there. I like to stay in touch with my students and it’s great to have them come show off what they have achieved.”
The program is very successful. Over 95 percent of students who work for AWS certifications earn them. Thanks to a partnership with Daikin, a large HVAC manufacturing facility located at Highway 290 and Kermier Road, they also have an opportunity to learn a specialized form of welding called brazing that is used for connecting components. Daiken trained WHS welding teachers in the method, who then teach the students. Students are then challenged to pass Daikin’s brazing exam. The partnership is a direct career path for some students. One WHS graduate has been so successful brazing for Daikin that the company is sending him to Japan to compete in a global competition.