Community welding class sparks interest for locals
Valley Campus / February 22, 2016 / Written by Margaret Sanderson
After taking the month long Community Education welding class at Trinidad State last year, Jon Hathaway’s confidence in his welding ability soared and he no longer feels intimidated. He knew the basics, but now he can weld pipe and he knows about beads and different rods and their applications. And he even learned about MIG wire welding. He had hoped to take the class again this year, but his schedule wouldn’t allow it. “I learned so much from Jack Cochran. That class helped me immensely. I definitely want to take it again.”
Last year the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee approached the college about a welding class at night - not for credit but long enough to learn some tricks of the trade. The response was so good that the college decided to repeat it again this February. Once again the class is being taught on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. by Jack Cochran.
True to last year’s class, the majority of participants this year are also connected to farming in some way.
Colby Harrison’s dad, Todd Harrison, has always called Cochran when he needed welding done on the farm. Colby, who graduated from high school last year, works for Beiriger and Sons Irrigation and helps his dad on the farm whenever he can. A year away at military school as a junior gave him a greater appreciation for this rural area. “I’m happy with a small town,” said Colby who would like to learn enough about welding to help more on the farm.
Marcos Diaz graduated from high school in 2011 and farms with his parents. His mom told him about the class and he thought it would be a good idea. “I don’t think there’s anything like country life. I get to go out there and play in the dirt and drive tractors,” Diaz said. “And getting some welding tips will help.”
“I am a farmer and I want more experience. I want to be handy in everything,” said Marco Rivera who also graduated high school in 2011 and works on a local farm. He has already earned a diploma as an electrician apprentice and last year he completed the LETA (Law Enforcement Training Academy) at Trinidad State. He is father to ten-month old twins. “This class is real interesting and it’s pretty fun,” Rivera said.
Husband and wife team, John and Deb Braly, decided to take the class together. They have a portable welder at home. John has welded before but wanted to improve his skills and Deb has wanted to learn for a long time. John surprised Deb with a light-sensitive welding helmet for Christmas which darkens almost instantly as light grows more intense. They have some team welding projects planned – a saddle rack and corrals for starters. Deb has plans for some art projects for her yard. “We started off burning holes in everything,” said Deb, a nurse by profession. “Baptism by fire has a whole new meaning! It’s a good winter sport and it’s a lot of fun.”
Students varied skill sets require instruction at their individual levels. Cochran teaches Oxy Acetylene welding first then moves on to Shielded Metal Arc Welding and then to MIG wire welding. He then teaches TIG welding using tungsten to those who want to weld aluminum or steel. Maybe Hathaway can join Cochran next February and learn how to work with tungsten so he can build that aluminum trailer he’s been dreaming about.
Cochran received his training while attending Monte Vista High School. “They sent me there instead of kicking me out of high school,” quipped Cochran who did welding as a work study the last half of his senior year. I have pretty much earned a living “burning rods” since 1974. After attending a night class at the San Luis Valley Vocational School (now the Trinidad State Valley Campus) in 1988 to earn his welding certification, Cochran started his own portable welding business and has gone through five pick-ups and two welders.
To express interest or suggest other community classes, call Trinidad State at 719-589-7000 and ask for Jack Wiley.