By Dayley Mosley/Texan Mosaic
South Plains College is under construction once again with the expansion and renovation of the Welding department. The facility, which was originally built in the 1980s, has not been updated since 2004.
Stratton said that the renovations are estimated to be finished in time for the start of the spring semester, which begins January 17. He said that with the current supply issues, it could take longer. The department hopes to begin the new year with a new section, which will hold up to 21 students.
“We have had waiting lists for every class, every semester,” said Jimmy Stratton, chairperson for industrial technology and associate instructor for the welding program.
The program has had full waitlists every semester despite having sections from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday.
The original facility was updated in the Summer as not to disrupt any of the fall classes, which began August 29, 2022.
Along with several building modifications, the college is purchasing new equipment with the latest technologies in the industry, which will be utilized in the welding program. Stratton said buying new technology is the best way to ensure that the SPC Welding program does not “fall behind” in the industry.
“Welding equipment is a lot like a vehicle. They come out with something newer and better every other year,” he said.
Along with the current curriculum, instructors hope to introduce the new CNC equipment before the expansion is completed. Stratton said that employers look for students who already know how to work with that technology.
With the expansions, the program hopes to meet the needs of local employers and the needs of the community. By adding more students to the program, the number of graduates with the advanced certificate and associate degree will increase. Most students will have a job before they officially graduate, as a result of demand, said Stratton.
Construction on the expansion, or phase two of the project, officially began on September 21, when the first concrete was poured. The total project is estimated to cost $2.4 million. A $500,000 donation was received by SPC towards the expansion. SPC is also looking into grants to supplement the funds, said Stratton.