The entire shop classroom at Windsor Secondary School looks pitch black through protective masks, until a grade eight student sparks-up a welder. Instantly the blue arc becomes visible and it is easy to see that the student is welding together two pieces of metal. Students at the school are able to learn welding from grade eight to grade 12, thanks to a generous donation from the Canadian Welding Association Foundation, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation and Seaspan.
"This is an important initiative because secondary school welding programs are very costly to run, due to materials, consumables and personal protective equipment. This donation provides our welding program with updated equipment and enough consumables for an entire year to enhance the overall program," said Nancy Roberts, Vice Principal, Windsor Secondary School.
Windsor Secondary School has received $12,000 worth of welding equipment: two portable fume extraction units, two multi-process welders, one plasma cutter, and one bench grinder. The school has also received a one year supply of welding consumables, including contact tips, nozzles, diffusers, welding electrodes, welding wire, tungstens and grinding disks. This donation was made possible by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Seaspan, that are providing the Canadian Welding Association Foundation with $300,000 over three years to support welding secondary school programs in BC and teacher training.
"One of our key mandates is to make sure students are safe in high school welding programs. We are also here to help young people turn welding into a successful career. There are tremendous opportunities and varied career paths available in the welding industry," said Deborah Mates, Executive Director, Canadian Welding Association Foundation.
Windsor teacher Stephen Lonsbrough shows students how to use the new welding equipment
In addition to the supplies and teacher training, students at Windsor Secondary will also be able to visit Seaspan to see welding in action.
"Right now we have roughly 350 welders working on building ships. This number will grow significantly over the next year. It is quite a thing to experience seeing these massive vessels being welded together. Students will learn a lot about the industry and potential careers," said William Clewes, Director of Operations, Seaspan.
Based on the excitement emanating from the grade eight students at Windsor who are trying out the welding equipment for the first time, offering welding classes at the secondary school level is a hit.
"I know that everyday I am excited to get out of bed in the morning because I get to come to school to teach these students how to make things – and that's thanks to collaborative partnerships like this that bring state-of-the-art equipment into our school's shop program," said Stephen Lonsbrough, Shop Teacher, Windsor Secondary School.