Despite all the changes to the program during the pandemic, students in Welding Lab at the Delaware Area Career Center completed their senior capstone projects this month.
Welding instructor Brad DeMent said the class had to be split into two different groups this year and work on different days to increase safety, but he said the lab was able to work relatively the same because students already work in individual work spaces and had to wear a welding helmet while working.
DeMent said that for the capstone project, students had the entire semester to work on the project, and he allowed them to work on their project one day a week in the lab.
“We actually start brainstorming during their junior year to prepare for it,” DeMent said. “They can literally build anything, and the only things that are holding them back are their skillset, time management, and in some cases, their budget. I allot a certain amount of metal for each student to use on their project. For example, one year I had a student build an aluminum boat. The program obviously can not supply the metal needed for every student to build a boat!”
DeMent said the other focus of the project is students doing research and interviewing a professional who works in the career field in which their project is based. Students then have to give an 8- to 10-minute presentation to a group of professionals from the industry, which took place virtually this year.
DeMent said the project is a great learning experience for students.
“The senior capstone is a fun project when in reference to the Welding program because the students are able to build a tangible end-product,” he said. “Throughout the project, I make sure that I guide the students throughout while also maintaining my distance. At the end of it, this is their project, not mine, so I want them to take full ownership or responsibility of all aspects of the capstone. When the students take advantage of the time they have devoted to this project and they really challenge themselves to push the envelope of their skillset, there really is no better experience.”
DeMent added he’s proud of the work students did on their projects, which varied from go-karts to bed frames.
“The students that come out successful have a product they are super proud of and a feeling of accomplishment of doing something they never thought they would be able to do,” DeMent said. “I have been very fortunate to have seen some really good projects throughout the years come from this welding lab, and it just speaks volumes to the bright futures they are paving for themselves!”
Micah Latta, a senior from Hayes High School, built a go-kart for his capstone project, which he said was “a lot of work.”
“I decided to build a go-kart because I thought it would be something fun and challenging,” Latta said. “It was a project that would challenge my fabrication skills and mechanical knowledge. When I started this project, I had actually never even ridden a go-kart so I thought it would be a cool way to learn new things and expand my horizons.”
Latta said he worked on the project multiple times a week over the course of four months, and he learned an important lesson during the project.
“One very important thing I learned when working on this project is that if you work hard enough, every problem can be solved,” Latta said. “When building my go-kart, I had so many problems come up. It felt like a reality show, but with a lot of hard work and ingenuity, I was able to get everything to work.”
Latta added he’s thankful to the staff at Leroy’s Service Center for their advice during his project.
Garrison Frisch said he originally planned to make a computer desk for his capstone project but once he started getting parts assembled, he “wasn’t really feeling it” and was having a hard time picturing it.
“I went home and saw this big empty space on my wall and that’s when I realized I should make a shelf,” Frisch said. “I live on a horse farm so my house has a lot of western style decor, which helped give me inspiration on how I wanted the shelf to look.”
Frisch estimated that his project took about 12 hours to make.
“If I made another one I’m sure it would take much less time, but I went out of my comfort zone a lot and had to learn how to do things I had no experience with,” Frisch said. “I had to test out the best ways to bend or weld different parts on practice pieces of metal before doing it to the actual product. I had to figure out how to overcome challenges I wasn’t prepared for. I spent a whole day clearing our barn garage front to have room for my dad’s gas forge to use to bend parts for my project, and I had to learn how to work with wood, which I had very little experience in.”
Frisch said during the project, he learned how important time management and preparation is.
“Starting out, we all go in thinking we have a whole semester to do this project but the time really flew by. I’m glad I made something that challenged me, but I also didn’t bite off more than I could chew,” Frisch said. “I also got to use a gas forge at home which was really fun, and now, I want to try making knives with it at some point. Lastly, I got to work with a master carpenter who showed me a lot of cool tricks on woodworking with how to make wood look rough and beat up, which really helped give my project its character.”
The projects can all be viewed on the DACC Welding Lab’s Facebook page at facebook.com/DACC.WELDING.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.