Utica Shale Academy opens outdoor welding lab for students

USA Outdoor Welding Lab
State and local officials joined education and business leaders for the unveiling of the Ascent Resources Welding Lab Sept. 12 in Salineville, the latest facility to train students through the Utica Shale Academy. The site includes 20 bays and could train upwards of 100 students to work in weather conditions to better prepare them for the job. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE, Ohio — Dozens of officials representing education, business and the community gathered for the unveiling of the Ascent Resources Welding Lab located adjacent to the Hutson Building on East Main Street in Salineville Sept. 12. This new offering at the Utica Shale Academy will help expose students to real-world working conditions.

The facility features 20 exterior welding bays and room for storage and would serve upwards of 100 students. USA Superintendent Bill Watson said the purpose of the facility is to introduce pupils to welding in the elements so they know what is expected on the job.

“It’s one thing to weld when it’s 70 degrees outside, but it’s another when it is cold. That’s the nature of the welding lab: They will be in the elements and we wanted them to really train and be prepared for these jobs,” Watson said.

The site has been nearly two years in the making and was finally completed last week. He said the concept was based on an idea by instructor Matt Gates and may be among the first of its kind in the state.

A funding shortfall nearly shelved the project, however, until Ascent stepped up to help, contributing $75,000. Additional funds came from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. SkyOxygen of Pittsburgh constructed the one-story building and Watson said five cohorts of 20 students can utilize the lab.

USA has been expanding its campus and currently includes the Hutson Building, which houses general classrooms and Virtual Learning Academy programming through the JCESC; the Utica Energy Center at the former Huntington Bank, which is in partnership with Youngstown State University and offers megatronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, AC/DC electric, Programmable Logic Controllers, diesel mechanics and horticulture for students and adults, and the newly opened Utica Shale Academy Community Center on Church Street, which includes a fitness center and certified health workers for further support.

School leaders are also reviewing plans to construct a new, two-story building next to the welding lab for classrooms, machinery and facilities for students working with heavy equipment operation and CNC plasma cutting. Additionally, they have met with state officials to tour the former Williams Energy district office at 10 E. Main St. for classrooms, exterior welding labs and health-based programs while the lower level is being eyed as a hospitality hub for the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center based in Salem.


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