On June 9, 2017, six Huntsville High School students, Elias Platts-Boyle, Brent Harrison, Devin Picard, Grayden Kubay, Alex Clarke, and Blake Schmitz all became CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) Flat Level 1 certified welders. This is an opportunity that is provided to all students in a Grade 12 SHSM Manufacturing Program. The certification that is offered at HHS is unique in that it is offered to high school students. This is an exam that is not usually widely available to welders until after 1 year of post-secondary education or on-the-job training (apprenticeships). In the case of Alex Clarke and Blake Schmitz, those two students are Grade 11, this is the first time Grade 11 students attempted the exam, and they both passed at the first attempt. The failure rate of first attempts is approximately ninety per cent.

As part of the SHSM Manufacturing program, the students are also certified in First Aid, CPR, WHMIS, Confined Spaces, Lockout Tagout, and PPE. These certificates would cost approximately $2,000 in costs to the students or employer when in college or the workplace, and students in the SHSM Manufacturing program for free as part of their participation in the program.

In the case of Elias and Brent, those students are attending Fleming College in the fall and are now exempt from college courses and the welding exam itself, so they are saving hundreds of dollars in their education next year.

Huntsville High School has been a CWB test centre for the last 3 years, and in that time they have certified 11 students. HHS is one of the only high schools outside of the GTA that offers the opportunity to students who wish to pursue a career in welding the chance to be a certified flat welder. Year one there were two students who passed, in year two there was three, and in year three there were six students who passed.

In the case of Alex and Blake, because they have passed the flat exam, the school is looking at providing a horizontal exam for those students next year so they have the opportunity to graduate with two welding certifications.

The Grant

Through participating in Skills Ontario for the past 7 years, Jim Milne, Department Head of Business & Technological Studies at HHS has learned about the ‘Train the Trainer” program offered by the CWA Foundation (Canadian Welding Association). This program offers free professional development for teachers. Through that program, Jim became aware of the opportunity to complete an application for a grant that would provide new equipment in the welding shop at HHS. When Jim found out about the grant opportunity, the deadline for applications closed in two hours! He hastily applied, and eight weeks later, HHS was awarded a grant of $20,000 to purchase eight new 3-in-1 welding machines, so in comparison, it’s almost like they are getting 24 new welding machines.

With the new equipment, HHS we will be able to dedicate more time to different processes during the semester. For example, because of the cost of welding machines, the school currently only has one. So rotating students through the equipment with limited time is a challenge. Now, the school will have 9 machines. The vision for this is to increase the skill level through the availability of newer machinery which is now the most available technology that students would see on the job site or in college. We have good equipment right now, and through the community projects students have manufactured and sold such as trailers, fire pit rings, Fire Dept. Hose Racks we have been able to purchase 12 SMAW welders that were capable of AC/DC welding process. This grant will take the equipment

The school currently has good equipment, and through community projects, students have manufactured and sold items such as trailers, and fire pit rings. This grant will take the equipment technology we have right to 2017. The CWA Foundation awards grants based on the enrolment of the program, ability to maintain enrolment, graduation numbers, and the facility. With HHS already being an accredited test centre, they met the requirements for the grant.

Congratulations to HHS on receiving this grant and to the students who have been successful in passing their certifications.