Community

Community welding classes held in new Industrial Arts classroom

Rhonda Silence


Far left: Instructor Don Hammer shares some tips with Jon Woerheide. Top: Novice welder Mary Sanders enjoyed trying something new. Left: All students take home an obelisk, created by using several different welding techniques. 
Staff photos/Rhonda Silence Far left: Instructor Don Hammer shares some tips with Jon Woerheide. Top: Novice welder Mary Sanders enjoyed trying something new. Left: All students take home an obelisk, created by using several different welding techniques. Staff photos/Rhonda Silence Cook County Schools - ISD 166 and Cook County Higher Education have been collaborating to offer basic welding classes for several years. In February 2016, the course was offered for the first time in the newly renovated and expanded ISD 166 Industrial Arts center. According to all who participated— instructor Don Hammer, interim Industrial Arts Teacher Mitch Dorr, Higher Ed Executive Director Paula Sundet Wolf, and the students in the first class—it was a great success.

Instructor Don Hammer was thrilled to be in the new welding area at ISD 166, which he said is “fantastic.” Hammer said, “When I walk into this classroom, I think college, not high school.”

Hammer was also pleased about the mix of students in the latest 3-day Basic Welding course. There were a few people who had a basic familiarity with welding who wanted to refresh their skills, like Melody McClure who rides motorcycle and has needed to weld when mechanical issues have arisen. McClure remembers what the industrial tech area looked like years ago. While attending Cook County High School, she took welding with Shop Teacher Stuart Jackson.

McClure is honing her welding skills to be used in a creative business enterprise.

Electrician Jon Woerheide was taking the welding class for the second time. Asked why he returned, Woerheide said, “I just enjoyed the class so much, I wanted to come back. Don is a wealth of knowledge. Any question you come up with, he can answer.”

Hammer has a solid background in both welding and teaching. He attended college to become an art teacher but found a career as a coach builder—a designer of manufacturing prototypes—which called for artistic welding techniques. He is also a blacksmith and has been teaching classes in that craft for years as well.

There were several students who are completely new to welding, and Hammer noted they begin the class with some trepidation. Quite a bit of time of the first day of the three-day class is spent reviewing safety procedures and theory. However, by the end of the class, all of the students have worked with several types of welding equipment.

Sundet Wolf said, “Don is an inspiring and patient instructor. We are lucky to have him in the community.

“Cook County Higher Education is honored to have the opportunity to partner with ISD 166 to use their wonderful renovated industrial arts facility to offer a welding class for adults in our community.”

“It’s amazing how well folks take to it,” said Hammer. “I think all of the students really enjoy the class.”

Tyler Howell agreed. He said he likes that the class is self-paced. “I’m slow but sure,” Howell said, adding, “I’m not really improving, but I’m having fun!”

Hammer said he was tickled that former ISD 166 School Board Member Mary Sanders was taking the inaugural class in the new space, since she was on the school board and was instrumental in getting the shop expansion under way.

Other than checking out the new classroom and welding area, why did Sanders take the class? She smiled and shrugged, “I just wanted to do it—it’s something I’ve never done before.”

And, Sanders added, she would like to create a welded sculpture of some sort to install on the “boring side” of her house.

All seven students in the class, which also included Chris Skildum, Tom Krantz, and Nick Wharton, finished the class with increased knowledge of welding techniques and with an interesting take home item they made themselves—a heavy metal obelisk.

Interested in learning to weld?

Basic Welding with Don Hammer is being offered in April. Cook County Higher Ed offers the course to provide students with an understanding of basic welding fundamentals and the ability to properly and safely use gas and electric welding equipment to perform welding and cutting procedures. There is also a sculptural dynamic which addresses basic layout and fabrication techniques.

Cook County High School Industrial Arts
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 1 – April 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $300.00 plus $50 material fee

To register, call Higher Ed at 218-387-3411 or
email highered@northshorecampus.org.


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