Students and educators from M.M Robinson High School and Burlington Central High School pose for a photograph with their Christmas bells with Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation (front left) during a week of welding at the CWB Group’s headquarters in Milton, ON. Click image to enlarge

The Canadian Welding Association Foundation, formed last year to promote education in welding, held a week-long welding event for students in southwestern Ontario.Heather Tarnawski, 17, a Grade 12 robotics student from M.M Robinson High School practices MIG welding. Click image to enlarge

Students in robotics and welding programs from various schools within the Halton District School Board and technology educators from both the Halton District and the Toronto Catholic District School Boards came together for the event.Manufacturing educators from the Halton District School Board pose for a group picture with Canadian Welding Association’s Manager for Western Canada Ken McKen. Click image to enlarge

 "It was a great time. All of the students and educators really enjoyed their experience learning about the welding profession and having the opportunity to actually put their skills to the test and weld final projects," said Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation. "Seeing the students' interest in welding and how they worked as a team clearly showed that if students are exposed to the welding profession in a safe environment, they really take hold and enjoy it."

From December 1-3, 2014, female robotics students from M.M. Robinson High School, Burlington Central High School, Garth Webb Secondary School, Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Milton District High School and Georgetown District High School learned all about MIG welding safety, proper welding techniques and they even tried the virtual welding simulator and welded a decorative Christmas bell.

"I loved it, it was a lot of fun," said Heather Tarnawski, 17, a Grade 12 robotics student from M.M Robinson High School about her experiences welding at the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) Group's headquarters in Milton, Ontario. "I like the arcs and sparks and fusing metals together and seeing how it all works out when the project is completed."

Grace Hammel, 15, Grade 10 robotics student at Burlington Central High School said "I thought the idea of welding was cool. I like how the course was broken down and we got to weld a final project."

"I've done welding before and I thought this was really cool," she said. I definitely want to go into the trades. This has encouraged me to look into welding."

On hand to educate the students on all safety measures, proper welding techniques and ensure the environment was safe was Canadian Welding Association's Manager for Western Canada Ken McKen, along with Kim Kovaks and Tony Pisano, both CWB Certification Service Representatives, and Jamie McMillan, a female ironworker.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "They quickly learned the basics of MIG welding and were eager to see the arcs and sparks. The projects turned out great and by the teamwork and enthusiasm displayed, they can all become wonderful welders."

McKen and his team not only assisted the robotics students, but on December 4, the CWA Foundation hosted a "Train the Trainer" session for manufacturing educators throughout the Halton District School Board. The basics of TIG and MIG welding fundamentals, safety and introduction to the latest welding technologies were covered. After the crash course, the educators were tasked to TIG weld an aluminum bird house as their final project.

"TIG welding is a complicated and delicate welding process. It takes a lot of practice to master it, but the educators did a great job grasping the concept and their final projects were welded quite well," said McKen.

The final day of the week, the CWA Foundation welcomed students from Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario and two manufacturing educators from the Toronto Catholic School Board. They all got the chance to learn about welding and they fabricated a similar project as the other students earlier in the week.

"Every one of them had a great time," said Yvan Poulin, Program Lead SHSM Welding/Manufacturing at Robert Bateman High School. "The CWA Foundation always helps out our students and the relationship is wonderful. It's exciting to have an organization that promotes welding education, safety and the entire welding profession in our backyard."

Poulin also participated in the Train the Trainer session the previous day where he received hands on training in TIG welding.

"The experience was great," he said. "TIG welding is a high end welding process and being able to get an educational session on that process and then apply that training to the more practical side and TIG weld a project was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to further working with the CWA Foundation."

The CWA Foundation invites other schools and educators to contact the Foundation and find out more information about bringing these initiatives to high schools in their provinces and communities.

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