Posted by Lanse on August 29, 2012 at 09:26:14 from (126.96.36.199):
So, "Stick Welding" asked about my plans for later in life, and I know I had said a few things earlier and never followed up on them.
Back in July, my mom and I drove from the farm where I live around 40 miles to the Hobart School of Welding located in Troy, Ohio and then on up to the Lincoln Electric school in Cleveland. We got tours of both, and truth be told I didnt think it would be very interesting, but I figure now I'll share my experiences.
Let me just say that I have nothing against Hobart, or against Lincoln. I own machines from both companies, they both make fine products.
Here's me with a new found friend just outside of the Hobart School:
Heres a fun fact, the shirt Im wearing in that picture just so happens to be the one Im wearing now as I type this. Just thought I'd share that with everyone...
Anyway, we drove up there early in the day. It wasn't too bad of a drive, we just got on the highway and headed East. By rural Ohio standards there was a lot of traffic, but that was probably the worst I would see if I drove there five days a week. Not bad at all.
We got off the Troy exit and followed the GPS, although I wasn't sure it knew where it was going. We went through a quiet, nice looking residential neighborhood and sure enough, there was the school. We parked outside of an older-but-very-well kept up yellow brick building with a cool water fountain outside. We eventually found the office, and went inside. The nice lady behind the desk told us to have a seat and a few minites later Bob walked out and introduced himself. Bob is an instructor with the school, he was very friendly and welcoming and we followed him into a little side room, or a meeting room of some kind and sat around a table with him. He explained the history of the school, told us that in the 10 or 15 years that he had been there they had completely re-done the inside of the building, gotten new machines, and put a ton of work into the place. It really showed, the office and meeting room looked very new, like it was fresh construction. We talked to him for over an hour about everything from how to pay for classes (they even take credit cards), to the courses, the machinery, etc. He was very thorough in explaining everything and he asked a lot of questions about me, and my future. I told him I had a few machines at home, where I had gone to school, the projects I'd done, etc. I think he liked me. I thought he was cool, defiantly wouldn't mind having him as a teacher.
Shortly later, we left the meeting room and walked out into a freshly painted hallway that lead to all the classrooms and the shop itself. He wouldn't even let is go into the shop for liability reasons, but we took a look in there. There were dozens and dozens of individual welding booths with light-stopping curtains behind them which was GREAT (my vocational school didn't have that, I remember getting flashed many a time by walking past people welding in their booths). He took us into a classroom that taught tig welding. At the front of the room was a white board and a teacher's desk, behind that were a few rows of student desks, and at the very back of the room was a shiny new Miller Dynasty and a small welding setup complete with a fume extractor. He explained that this classroom is where they teach tig roots on steel pipe, and then we moved on.
We headed to a little office that they called the "career center" or something like that, which had a board showing where people were calling in from looking to hire weldors. There were a handful of Ohio companies and locations, many from North Dakota, various provinces in Canada, a lot from Michigan, and a handful from dozens of other states. There were computers there, and Bob emphasized that the vast majority of their students left with good jobs.
He showed us the "metal room" (I don't remember the official term) where they receive all their materials, pre-cut and ready to weld.
We walked around and talked for a while longer, and then we thanked him for his time and left with a big stack of paperwork.
I was VERY impressed with that school.
We stopped at McDonalds, had some greasy fast food, got on the highway and came home.
A little later (week or so? Couple days or so? This was in mid-july, don't remember the time frames really) we left again to go to Cleveland, Ohio and see the Lincoln Electric school.
We got off the highway after driving around the city of Cleveland and made our way through Euclid (sp?). Wow, that was a rough place. Ive seen worse neighborhoods here in Dayton, and even Detroit for that matter, but there were closed businesses, run down tenements, it was VERY poverty stricken. We locked our doors and drove through town, to the Lincoln Area. It wasn't very well marked, we actually pulled into a shipping area and asked for directions from a friendly security guard. He told us to head down the street to another set of buildings and we did. We parked the Jeep, got out, and I got my mom to take this picture of me outside the building:
We got some weird looks from people no doubt going into work, but its all good. We walked inside, into a big lobby with a desk and 3-4 more security guards. They "buzzed us in" and told us where to go, and that there would be someone there to give us a tour. So, we walked down some steps and through some kind of a tunnel, to another security check point. This guard was also very friendly, and told us to hang out for a while and wait on the tour guide. So, we did, but no one showed up. After 10-15 minites, he directed us to go through a door labeled "SCHOOL" and follow the hallway until it ended. This whole place looked like a movie set, like something you'd see in a factory scene placed in the 1950s. We banged our way up the old school steel staircase, went down a very cramped (3-4 foot wide) hallway, and eventually ended up in the "school" part of the facility. Still no tour guide. After we stood there for a minute or two, someone walked up and asked us what we were doing there. We explained ourselves, and he offered us a tour and introduced himself as Charlie. He disappeared into the office for a minute and re-emerged with a ridiculously huge pair of safety glasses which he handed to me and we started our tour. My mom happened to be wearing open toed sandals and a small pair of prescription glasses, but I guess that wasn't an issue here.
He walked us through the area pointing out "This is the stick welding area.... This is the flux-core area..." etc. After about 15 minites, we ended up right back where we started and he invited us to walk into the office with him and he was ready to get me signed up right then and there. I wasn't so sure, so he handed us a couple of cards and asked if we had any questions. My mom asked how many instructors there were, and he thought for a second or two and told us "7" (Or 8, or 12, or whatever he said, I don't remember). I looked past him and counted exactly that number of teachers hanging out in the office there while there were dozens of students hard at work in the shop. That was a big deal for me.
Anyway, on the way home I knew I wouldn't be going to the Lincoln School. We spent around 15-20 mins in the school part of that facility, verses over three hours at the Hobart School.
IMHO, the Hobart schools blows Lincoln clear out of the water. MUCH nicer facility in a WAY better neighborhood, newer/better equipment from what I saw, heck, they even give better tours. The Lincoln building looked like a movie set, and the shop part of the school was a hot, smokey, dimly-lit factory type setting. It was like an upscale version of the Vocational school I went to for my Junior and Senior years of High School. The Hobart school looks and feels like a small collage. From what I saw, they have also place a MUCH higher emphasis on safety. At the end of the day, the Hobart School appears to be Brighter, Cleaner, Newer and safer than Lincoln. Also, at Hobart, the ONLY teacher we saw the entire time I was there was the one giving the tour, where as at Lincoln, every single one of their teachers was hanging out in the office, not actually teaching.
I feel bad writing a "less than perfect" review of the Lincoln School as I know that a lot of people go/have gone there and loved it, but hey, I went and this is what I saw, your milage may vary. I'm sure if I went there I would still learn a lot.
Anyway, I've decided on the 9 month long comprehensive structural plate/pipe welding course at Hobart. I'll learn everything, MIG, TIG, Stick and Flux-Core in all positions, and leave with a couple of certifications.
It was really fun to go and visit both places, and here are a couple more pictures. My last day of High School was May 11 of this year, and I can't express how happy I am to FINALLY have it over and done with. It feels like life is FINALLY starting to get good, I HATED school and thought most of it was a waist of time. Hey, maybe I am kind of normal after all :)
So, the Hobart school starts a new class every month. I plan to start at the end of October. Why? Because things are going pretty well for me right now. Im enjoying life after HS, hanging out at the farm a lot, doing odd projects for friends and family, shooting YouTube videos almost every day, working on and riding a motorcycle that I absolutely love, working at a part time job that I picked up and really enjoy, and enjoying the summer.
If I start in October, I'd finish around the end of July in 2013. I've decided to move to Texas, because I've lived in New York, Michigan and Ohio my whole life and Im ready for a change. Nothing against any of those places, but they're not where I want to be. I'm lucky, Ive traveled two continents and been all over the US on various family trips, and theres really no where I'd rather be than Texas. I've got family and a few friends in Austin, and I spend all the time there I can. I absolutely love the food, the music, the culture, the scenery, how everything there is new, and nice, and clean and busy compared to where I am now, and everything about it. I deal with heat well, we get in the 105 range here in Ohio with high humidity, I'd gladly do another 5-10 degrees for a longer period of time if it meant no winter. That being said, If I graduated in the end of July, I'd leave Ohio sometime in August and I could miss a chunk of the "hot" season in Texas. Where in Texas however, remains to be seen.
Anyway, this is me at my graduation (May 18):
And this is something from the Local School District:
So, thats whats new with me. Idk if anyone's still reading, but that is where I am, and what I'm up to. Just wanted to share. Hope everyone has a good week :)
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