Hands-On Campus Repair Project Allows Ulster BOCES Young Welder to Share His Expertise

Hands-On Campus Repair Project Allows Ulster BOCES Young Welder to Share His Expertise

Pat Bennett, a 17-year-old senior from Saugerties High School who attends the Career & Technical Center, recently applied the knowledge and skills learned in his Ulster BOCES Welding & Metal Fabrication program to a real-life scenario as he made precise repairs to an exterior aluminum stair railing at the Port Ewen career training campus. 

When made aware of the need for a stair railing repair, Bryan Lundy, the precision metalwork teacher at Ulster BOCES, brought the task to Bennett. At the time, he was the only young professional in his class who was skilled in the Aluminum Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding process that was required for the job. “Aluminum is a lot more difficult because it is toxic when you grind it—the dust from it—so you have to wear a mask to do it,” explained Bennett. This experience made him the “go-to” person for the technical aspect of the repair. 

After removing the broken railing and bringing it into the welding classroom, Bennett was able to successfully fix the piping in several areas. He then also welded all three posts to connectors, which were used to firmly secure the railing to the concrete steps. 

According to Assistant Principal Stephen Casa, the employability skills, such as reliability, communication, relationship management, initiative, and others, that are taught at the Career & Technical Center really set Ulster BOCES young professionals apart. “It's clear that Pat has all the tools to have a successful career and future in his trade area.” 

In the Aluminum TIG welding process, a non-consumable tungsten electrode generates the arc, which heats the base metal and filler material (if used) to create a weld joint. This method of welding is known for its versatility, precision, and ability to produce high-quality welds in thin or intricate aluminum structures. It can be easily recognized in action because of the protective gear the welder wears, including the heat resistant gloves and jacket and the signature welding helmet designed to protect the eyes from the intense light and UV radiation emitted during the welding process. 

“Hands-on activities such as this one provide learners with practical experience and skills that can be directly applied in various situations and helps bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life situations,” explains Joseph Salamone, principal at the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center. “An added benefit of this particular activity also provided Pat with the gratification of contributing to his school community, which is an important aspect of learning here at Ulster BOCES.”

Casa is not the only one to recognize and appreciate Bennett’s blossoming skills in the welding field. When he graduates in June, Bennett already has a full-time position at Benson Steel Fabricators in Saugerties waiting for him. Bennett has been interning at the welding business this year through the Ulster BOCES Capstone program, which connects young professionals with real-world experiences in their field of interest. 

Looking into the future, Bennett sees himself remaining in the welding field for the long term and seeing where it takes him. Eventually, he might even see himself relocating to Texas where welding is a high demand field.

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