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United Tribes Welding Program revived
23 March 2012

BISMARCK (UTN) - A once-popular vocational program that went dormant for the past decade will soon be revived at United Tribes Technical College. The college is restarting its welding program to provide much-needed workforce training.

The welding program at United Tribes, dating back to the 1970s as seen here, will soon be revived with renovated facilities, new equipment and updated training as a result of jobs creation funding from the U. S. Economic Development Administration and the U. S. Department of Labor
United Tribes News file photo

      The U. S. Economic Development Administration awarded funding to renovate facilities in the United Tribes Skill Center. The college has not offered welding for over a decade.

      The U. S. Department of Labor chipped-in with funding for new equipment, supplies and personnel. The collaboration is a targeted effort at state-of-the-art training in a field with great potential for employing workers in skilled labor jobs that are in high demand throughout the region and around the country.


      The program is directed by Steve Shepherd, who has 17 years experience as a welder and member of the Iron Workers Union. Shepherd learned the skill, and art, of welding in his home area, Sisseton-Wahpeton, from an experienced mentor.

      "I've welded on heavy equipment, trailers, signs, on skyscrapers in Minnesota, bridges, roller-coasters," said Shepherd. "I've welded on a lot of things."

      The UTTC program will establish a foundation of welding knowledge and skill. It is built upon learning the fundamentals of the industry's traditional, time-tested form of fusing metal: shielded metal arc welding, better known as "stick welding." The 16 week course will also include the newer forms, such as wire feed, gas-metal arc welding, flux-core arc welding, and TIG welding. Students who graduate will go on for specialized training in established apprentice programs.

      "I teach guys how to weld out in field all the time," he said. "We can have our young people come here to the college and learn how to weld."

Steve Shepherd (Sisseton-Wahpeton) UTTC Welding Program Director


      Shepherd's redesign of the former welding area in the United Tribes Skill Center includes the installation of new welding booths and space for equipment storage, along with a large gantry to handle raw materials.

      "It'll be state of the art, like one of the best shops in the area," he said.

      The centerpiece will be several welding simulators that shorten the learning curve and dramatically improve welding skills.

      "It's a really good training tool," he said. "And it illuminates waste and reduces the cost of your consumable materials like welding rods and tips."


      Construction and renovation of the welding area is set to begin in April. The first training session is expected to start in the fall. In each group there will be 12 students, said Shepherd. About three dozen will be trained each year.

      "Getting them trained is the goal, whether it's for the oil patch or into one of the local unions, or going to a manufacturing plant," he said. "Whatever they plan to do, they'll get the proper fundamental training here."

      The United Tribes welding program will also provide placement services in a field of the student's choice.

      For more information contact Steve Shepherd, 701-255-3285 x1357, sshepherd@uttc.edu.


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