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May 9, 2018

Joe Verkennes, Director of Marketing and Communications
Monroe County Community College
1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI  48161
(734) 384-4207 (O), (419) 343-3063 (M) 

Goal is to Increase Region’s Supply of Welders with Advanced Education

MONROE, Mich. – Monroe County Community College has received a $224,906 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Advanced Welder Education” with the goal of increasing the region’s supply of qualified welders with advanced levels of education who can further research, development and innovation in the field.

The three-year project starts June 1, 2018, and ends May 31, 2021.

“This award builds on the momentum created by four years of grant-funded welding training completed by MCCC earlier this decade through a $1.79 million Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training Grant,” said Dr. Kojo A. Quartey, MCCC president.

“Through that grant, we certified 238 students as entry- or advanced-level welders based on American Welding Society standards and provided a much-needed boost in qualified welders to reduce the skills gap in the region.  However, there is more work that needs to be done to fill this need.”

According to 2017 statistics from the Workforce Intelligence Network, there are 5,000 new job postings for skilled trades workers in Southeast Michigan, and total employment for these industries is about 113,000 workers.  Half of these workers are welders, fabricators, and tool and die makers.

By using the funds provided by the NSF grant, MCCC will transition the offering of entry-level welding instruction, known as AWS-QC-10, to area high schools, said Parmeshwar (Peter) Coomar, dean of MCCC’s Applied Science and Engineering Technology Division.  While the college will still offer some entry-level welding classes, its focus will be on teaching advanced-level welding standards (AWS-QC-11) and incorporating the latest additions to these standards recently set forth by the American Welding Society.

Partnering with local high school career and technical education instructors to help them implement the entry-level welding (AWS-QC-10) standards at the high schools will help MCCC develop a direct articulation credit pathway so that students can earn up to 10 credits toward MCCC’s welding program while still in high school.

“By doing this, MCCC will be able to produce high-caliber welders who can support research and development and/or pursue the next level of higher education by completing associate of science degrees in welding at MCCC, as well as pursuing bachelor’s degrees in welding at other institutions of higher learning,” Coomar said.

He added that MCCC already has a number of established articulation agreements with universities so that welding students can seamlessly transfer their credits toward four-year degrees, and the college will continue to work to establish more. 

The grant will also help MCCC add to the pool of qualified inspectors in the region in the non-destructive testing field.  Non-destructive testing involves the inspection, testing or evaluation of materials, components and assemblies for material discontinuities, properties and machine problems without further impairing or destroying the parts serviceability.  MCCC offers the only NDT program in the state, Coomar said.

“Students who advance in their education and career goals in welding and NDT through this grant will have a significant impact on the economy of Southeast Michigan,” said Quartey.

Coomar said the project will lead to an increase in the collaboration between MCCC and area high schools and four-year colleges, benefiting faculty and students at all three types of institutions through improved student success, aid in developing articulation agreements and increased sharing of resources.  It will improve student employability when entering the workforce and strengthen MCCC’s relationship with local employers by providing them with a well-educated workforce to meet their needs at varying levels of welder expertise, he said.

MCCC was one of 70 out of 240 such grant applications that received funding from NSF.  According to Coomar, there will be two more rounds of awards after this award period ends.  This could result in additional $600,000-$1 million in grant awards should MCCC wish to apply for further funding as a follow-up to this grant project.

MCCC’s successful NSF grant award was made possible through a partnership with the Monroe County Intermediate School District and support from the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance, the local Michigan Works! agency, and regional companies including Ventower Industries, Baker’s Gas and Welding Supplies Inc., RoMan Manufacturing Inc., the National Center for Welding Education (an NSF-funded center) and the American Welding Society.

“Our goal is to ensure growth and development in the welding industry to increase the number of welding students and graduates to facilitate job placement,” said Dr. Stephen McNew, superintendent of the Monroe County Intermediate School District.  “We believe this grant will help us do that by supporting welding programs in the public schools in Monroe County and strengthening the relationship between MCCC and public education in the area of career and technical education.  Business/industry and schools all have an increasingly key role to play in overcoming the skills gap and this is a wonderful opportunity to address that issue.”

To begin the process of offering the AWS-QC-10 entry-level welding instruction at area high schools, MCCC will offer an American Welding Society (AWS QC10) Welding Certification Teacher Workshop in August.  The workshop is funded by the NSF grant (NSF Division of Undergraduate Education No. 181078) and is for high school welding teachers or other high school teachers interested in teaching welding or interested in the AWS-QC-10 certification process. 

The workshop will be held in the Career Technology Center on MCCC’s Main Campus at 1555 S. Raisinville Rd. in Monroe and run from August 7-9 and 14-16.  The workshop will meet from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day.

Each teacher who successfully completes the workshop will earn AWS-QC-10 certification.  Breakout sessions to work on implementation scenarios for each respective school program will also be offered.  Core elements of certification modules will be emphasized, as well as teaching practices to ensure student success.  Articulation pathways will be highlighted for students to complete the next steps to advanced welder certification – AWS-QC-11 – that is offered at MCCC. 

A stipend of $1,200 will be paid to each high school teacher who participates in workshop.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided, as well as a travel allowance for those traveling over 50 miles round trip.  The workshop is limited to first 10 participants on a first-come, first-served basis.  Monroe County School district teachers will be given preference.  All participants will be required to sign an agreement that they will attempt to implement AWS-QC-10 entry-level welding training in their respective schools and provide a plan to pursue this action over the next 3 years. 

Workshops are also being planned for 2019 and 2020.

For more information please visit the NSF Grant Web page at

About Monroe County Community College
Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is a public, two-year institution supported by tax monies from Monroe County, educational funds from the State of Michigan and student tuition.  

The college’s mission is to enrich and transform lives by providing opportunities and excellence in higher education.  The Main Campus is located at 1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, Mich., 48161, with easy access to Toledo and Detroit.  The Whitman Center is located in Temperance, Mich., 48182, near the Ohio-Michigan Border.  Detailed information about MCCC is available at