HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College’s (WSCC) welding program is preparing for a noteworthy fall 2022 semester. The department is launching a new Robotic Welding Technician degree and moving into a new space on campus – the state-of-the-art Center for Robotic Welding, Fabrication and Engineering.
The Robotic Welding Technician associate of applied science option is a four-semester degree pathway, or a certificate can be earned with 52 credit hours.
“We’re excited to be the first community college in the state to offer a Robotic Welding Technician associate degree for its students. This option has been a goal of mine for a long time,” said program chair Randy Hammond. “The welding industry desperately needs robotic welders, and I’m positive most students will have a job in this field before the complete their fourth semester.”
Specific welding courses for the new degree include Gas Metal Arc/Flux Core Arc Welding (WDT 126); Consumable Welding Applications (WDT 162); Industrial Blueprint Reading (WDT 110); Blueprint Reading for Fabrication (WDT 223); Robotics Lab 1 (WDT 160); Weld Inspection and Testing (WDT 219); Carbon Steel Fabrication (WDT 131); Robotic Welding 2 (WDT 275); Sensor Technology and Applications (ILT 240); Robotic Welding 3 (WDT 276); a Welding/Industrial Elective; and a Welding Certification Lab (WDT 258).
WSCC’s program has multiple robotic welders among its equipment fleet, allowing students to operate and control the robots to perform specific welding tasks. Robotic welders are widely used in the automotive industry. According to Allied Market Research, the global robotic welding market is expected to reach $10.7 million by 2026.
“Robotic welding gives us another pathway to offer our students. If a student is interested in welding, but they don’t like the idea of manually welding all day, this is a great option. You’re still working with your hands. The human conducts the programming, and the robot does the welding,” Hammond said.
Hammond added companies like Blue Origin, among others, have expressed interest in WSCC students specializing in robotic welding.
WSCC’s welding program is debuting the robotic welding degree as it transitions next semester to a new facility – one that features 87 welding booths, multiple classrooms, virtual welding simulators, pipe-fitting stations and plasma cutting, fiber laser cutting and wet jet cutting stations.
“Wallace State is laser focused on workforce development and providing programs and services that align with the needs of business and industry,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.
“With this new facility, Wallace State will be one of the largest fabrication training facilities in the Southeast,” said Wes Rakestraw, WSCC’s dean of applied technologies. “The addition of robotic welding is a sign of things to come in the next few years as we add more degree options in automation, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things. The options we have for students interested in welding or other technical fields are expanding and will lead to incredible opportunities.”
WSCC welding students earn National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) credentials upon completing degree work, and the equipment is provided by Lincoln Electric – the world’s largest manufacturer of welding equipment, welding consumables and automation.
“This facility should be a game-changer for our program. It gives us the ability to provide more training. We’ll have more room for equipment and the opportunity to serve more students,” Hammond said. “It’s the largest welding facility in Alabama. A Lincoln Electric representative was on campus recently and compared our facility to the new Lincoln Electric facility in Ohio. He was amazed.” 
As a result of the transition, welding students can expect to see an increase in night-course offerings. Night courses available for the Fall 2022 semester consist of SMAW Fillet/PAC/CAC (WDT 104) and Shielded Metal Arc Weld Groove (WDT 106).
The new welding facility will also host a business incubator, containing seven incubation pods, an ideation station, along with shared conference and workspace areas.
Watch one of the Wallace State Robotic Welders at www.facebook.com/wallacestatecommunitycollege/videos/1263231457495349.
Fall semester classes begin Thursday, Aug. 18. Register at www.wallacestate.edu/register-now/index.html.
For more information about WSCC welding, contact Hammond at 256-352-8272 or randy.hammond@wallacestate.edu.