By: Jonathan Baca, Senior Reporter | Photo By: Jonathan Gamboa, Production Manager
Class options limit welding students’ progress
Students in the Welding program are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to register for required courses, said Full-time Welding Instructor Ron Hackney.
After completing the first or second terms of their structured qualification programs, many students who tried to register for the spring semester found no open seats and full waiting lists for nearly all of the required courses, said Welding major Austin Wessell.
“When I tried to register for my next term classes, just about every class was filled up and had a waiting list before I was even allowed to sign up,” said Wessell.
Hackney said that many trade programs like Welding have become so popular that the school simply does not have room for every interested student.
“There is a high demand to get into and continue in this program, so there are limited slots available. There is an issue with the classes getting filled up before students even have an opportunity to register,” said Hackney.
Unlike other programs, trades are limited in the number of students that can attend because of limited space and equipment, he said.
Hackney said he encourages students who are put on waiting lists to wait and see if additional sections are added, and to communicate with their instructors about other possible options.
“Nine times out of ten, our administration is all for adding new sections. The issue then is where to put them, because we do have limited lab space,” he said.
Associate Dean of Applied Technologies Michael Cranney said that determining the number of sections to provide for each course is a complex balancing act involving several factors.
The number of interested students, expected drop-out rates, available instructors, and the limited amount of lab space and equipment all must be taken into account, he said.
Cranney said that because of the amount of high paying jobs currently available in the industry, retention rates for the Welding program are unusually high, further limiting space.
“If waiting lists are big enough, we will open up new sections. The hours may not be perfect for students, but if that is really what they want to pursue, we’re going to see what we can do to help them,” said Cranney.
Hackney said that demand is high enough that the school could drastically increase the size of the program and still fill every class. However, he said this may not be in the students’ best long-term interests.
“The program could probably be double the size it is now. The problem is will the industry support that many welders? We don’t want to be a program that graduates students who then can’t find jobs,” said Hackney.
Cranney said the Welding program is planning to hire one full-time and several part-time instructors to help meet student demand. There are no plans to add to existing lab space.
“Now we’re kind of maxed out on physical space available to us,” said Cranney.
Hackney said he is proud of the program, and feels that too many students is a good problem to have.
“And if we can’t get you into the labs, there are other classes, like Arts and Sciences, you can take to meet your certificate or degree requirements. So it doesn’t have to be a totally wasted term,” said Hackney.