Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Jesse Revoir, the Career & Technical Center’s Welding & Metal Fabrication program was a place where he could begin a career that offered job security and the ability to earn a good salary. The former Wallkill High School student says that construction runs in his blood, and it was a popular occupation for people in his community when he was growing up.
During a high school visitation day, Jesse toured the Ulster BOCES Welding & Metal Fabrication classroom and listened to a presentation. It was then that it became clear that welding was the direction that he wanted his future to go in.
“I figured it would be a good skill to have, and I liked the environment,” says Jesse. He adds that the welding teacher’s presentation gave him the reassurance he needed to feel that he would get the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in the trade. “I liked the vibe in the classroom, and there were sparks and fire,” he laughs.
Although he was still in high school, Jesse was practical about his future. “You are learning a skill that you could make a career out of,” he explains, adding that there were additional perks. “You could also use it [welding] at home.”
While he was a good student at his home school, Jesse enjoyed spending a half-day at the Career & Technical Center immersed in the hands-on approach to learning. He also enjoyed the English class that was integrated into his trade course. “Mr. Baxter made English fun. He made you want to go to the library and get a book,” recalls Jesse. He says that his assignments at the Career & Technical Center related the subject he was studying to what he was practicing. “He gave you stuff to read about the art of welding,” he remembers.
While in his Welding & Metal Fabrication program, under the guidance of his teacher Robert Schnitzer, Jesse learned how to weld metal parts by following work orders or blueprints, and he became proficient in braze welding and gas tungsten techniques. He and his classmates also became familiar with grinding, drilling, and torch cutting.
He remembers a meaningful pep talk that Schnitzer gave him the last day of his senior year, sharing his confidence in Jesse’s abilities. “He said I would be one [of the students] who would make it in the field, and that there is always a need for welders.”
After graduation, Jesse joined the Ironworkers 417, a union located in Newburgh that provides workers with a variety of construction jobs. For four years, Jesse was a member of the crew that took down the old Tappan Zee Bridge and erected the new span— a massive specimen of infrastructure— that required him to work above the Hudson River at the height of nearly 300 feet. The conditions called for him to be a high wire artist wearing a special harness and protective gear, in addition to carrying his equipment.
Today, he is working on a construction project at West Point, and thanks to bridge improvement projects like the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, as well as the expansion of college and hospital campuses, he’s not worried about a lack of welding jobs in the local economy.
After 12 years, the Wallkill resident credits his time at Ulster BOCES for preparing him for his career. “I had hands-on experience and I knew what I was getting into,” says Jesse.
According to the United States Department of labor, employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to grow six percent from 2016 to 2026. The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.
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