At a Glance
At Erie High School, the manufacturing lab instructors and the administration collaborate to provide welding students the opportunity to participate in a co-op experience or to cross-train in complimentary manufacturing-based programs at the school.
The welding program at Erie High School is a four-year program, and some students are able to complete the program of study in two or three years. To take advantage of the additional learning potential for these students, the welding instructors sought out experiences that would strengthen their welding skills and make them more employable after graduation.
Working in close collaboration with their advanced manufacturing lab colleagues, the welding instructors decided on two viable options for welding students who finish the program in less than four years. Students may use the additional one to two years of school to participate in a co-op experience or to cross-train in complimentary manufacturing-based programs offered at the school, such as machining, pre-engineering, electronics and hydraulics.
The instructors note several benefits to providing these two options to students. The options encourage students to continue developing their technical and employability skills by exploring curriculum and opportunities beyond the program of study. Co-op students benefit from relevant, career-focused work-based learning. Students who select to enroll in other manufacturing-based courses can create more diverse projects and make appropriate repairs within the lab. They also gain exposure to new teaching styles and interact with students from other labs. Finally, students experience career learning opportunities beyond their initial welding choice.
It is a challenge to organize and coordinate students’ learning plans and schedules across labs. To make the cross-training option available, instructors work with the administration to schedule student movement within the related labs. (Students may move to a new program as space allows.) A collegial relationship among the manufacturing lab instructors allows for a flexible learning environment in which students can customize their training after meeting the foundational program of study requirements. In addition, the welding instructors develop individualized study plans for each participating student to help guide the students’ learning experiences.
The welding instructors note many benefits of providing students co-op or cross-training opportunities:
• Students are exposed to related careers in manufacturing.
• Students are more employable due to the development of broader skill sets.
• Students must demonstrate the social skills needed to succeed in another lab.
• Students experience diverse teaching and supervisory styles.
• Students may discover a greater interest or passion for another program.
• Employers will find a broader range of skills from Welding program graduates.