Welding demonstration

Welding students Bo Lambert and Logan Elmore demonstrate the functions of the Mercer County Technical Education Center’s new virtual welder to the board of education Tuesday evening.

PRINCETON — Several members of the community were recognized for recent achievements and board members watched a demonstration of the Mercer County Technical Education Center’s new virtual welder at this week’s board of education meeting.

Welding students at the MCTEC gave a presentation on the school’s new virtual welder. Don Brown, welding instructor at MCTEC, worked in the welding industry for 35 years. After he was trained on the virtual welder he said it is one of the finest tools he has come across.

“It’s a wonderful piece of equipment,” he said.

By using the virtual welder, students are able to practice the same way they would using a real welding machine. Brown said it is also cost effective by allowing the school to save on welding rods and tools. He added that the welder covers other aspects of education including math and writing.

Logan Elmore, a student at MCTEC for about 2 years, said he is thankful for the opportunity to have and use the machine

Bo Lambert is taking his fourth semester in welding and said Brown is one of the best instructors he has ever had.

Lambert and Elmore demonstrated how to set up and use the machine including the different types of welding that can be done and different virtual settings available that represent real world environments. The welder also lets the students work with different welding rods. The helmet used has bifocal lenses and headphones to simulate the working environments visually and audibly. The welder also factors in many aspects of a student’s skill including position of the rod, aim, travel speed and penetration. Once a student does well with the virtual welder they can move on to the shop to test their skills with real tools.

“This is a really good machine to get you started out on,” said Lambert. “It teaches you how to keep the travel angle slow and gets you prepared for when you actually do go out there. It makes you feel like you are really welding.”

Brown said he has about 38 welding students and the virtual welder has helped him with hands on teaching and training. He a lot of welders are getting ready to retire which will open up a lot of jobs for welding students around the country.

“Right now the average age of a certified welder is 58 years old,” he said.

The board recognized several members of the community Tuesday for recent achievements.

Ms. A.Gail Shrewsbury, of Spanishburg Elementary School, was recently named the 2014 State of West Virginia Service Person of the Year. Shrewsbury has been with Mercer County Schools for 33 years. She was also featured in a recent copy of USA Today.

“Thank you so much. I appreciate this, I really do,” Shrewsbury said.

Bluefield Middle School student Jared Grubb, Alyssa Wagoner and Jordan Farley were recognized for their score of “distinguished” on all four areas of the 2014 WesTest.

Amy Montgomery, a third grade teacher at Mercer Elementary School, was recognized for writing a DonorsChoice.org grant for her project, “Oh, the Places We’ll Go! Expanding Prior Knowledge.” She received Exemplar Text to use in her classroom as well as nonfiction text.

Two employees of Memorial Primary were recognized as being part of the 100 percent club and going above and beyond their duties. Those employees were Imogene Wiley, secretary, and Diana Sandifur, teacher.

The board revisited the WorkSaver Systems Service Agreement from their previous meeting. The system will provide pre-employment testing for service employee positions such as custodians and cooks to make sure individuals will be able to perform required tasks with a low risk of injury. The system could also lower insurance premiums for the school.

Board President Greg Prudich raised concerns of how accurate the testing is and if the board should exclude every person from employment who has any type of ailment, such as a bad knee.

Board member Mary Alice Kauffman said the choice would belong to the board as to whether or not they hired someone with a physical ailment. Insurance premiums would potentially decrease for the board if the system was put in place, but deciding to hire someone with a physical limitation would not impact the insurance.

The board voted three to two to approve implementing the system with Prudich and Gene Bailey, board vice president, opposed.

In other business, the board approved a second reading of the experiential learning policy, which allows for greater participation for students in areas such as job shadowing, internships, community service, clinicals and more. The board also approved a change order for the foundation waterproofing at Mercer School. When excavation began at the school rock was discovered and must be jackhammered and hauled offsite because it is unsuitable for backfill. Additional stone and top soil is also needed for the backfill.

— Contact Jackie Puglisi at jpuglisi@ptonline.net

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