From day one, the American Welding Society (AWS) has been focused on education. The organization launched in 1919 shortly after the end of WWI with a goal to ensure that the production of military equipment would be robust enough to help U.S. troops succeed in any future conflicts. Considering AC welding had been invented that same year and the first stick electrodes had been produced just a few years prior, there was great need to educate the welding workforce on these new tools and techniques.
In the more than 100 years that have passed, welding has advanced in monumental ways, spurring an ever-growing compendium of educational courses and training. In its earliest years, AWS established an Education Committee, which would be the foundation for the scores of courses, programs and resources to come.
To continue its commitment to the education and advancement of welding, AWS frequently adds new courses and offerings to members and nonmembers. The problem, however, is that since the industry is constantly growing and evolving, the number of new educational products cycling through it every year can be easy to miss.
To tackle that challenge, AWS launched its Powerfully Enlightening campaign, which is aimed at raising awareness of the broad scope of educational offerings available that can meet people’s needs through the entire arc of their career. It also marks the launch of recently developed courses, such as Lean Management for Welding Productivity and Solution Selling for Welding.
A few aspects of the campaign to take special note of include a focus on the corporate customer, customized training and new discounts that are available.
The launch of AWS’s new courses, including Lean Management for Welding Productivity and Solution Selling for Welding, were part of the inspiration behind the Powerfully Enlightening campaign. And while the classes are appropriate for anyone involved in the welding industry, they should be of particular to AWS’s corporate members.
“We took a step back to look at our catalog and saw that a lot of our content had mostly been geared to a specific audience,” says Alicia Garcia, the director of education at AWS. “With these newer offerings, however, we’re trying to reconcile the shortfall in courses for the corporate customer. Previously, we really didn’t really have much training for them – we, essentially, had been neglecting a portion of our member base. So, this is our initial foray into creating a catalog of courses, and we’re excited for the chance to service those members’ needs.”
Garcia says that this first foray includes a series of courses that can be taken standalone or sequentially in what she refers to as AWS’s Productivity Bundle. The bundle includes the Economics of Welding course, the Lean Management for Productivity course and then a webinar titled “How to Increase your Facility’s Productivity.” She recommends taking them in that order, if the full bundle is the desired approach. Each, of course, has its own focus.
For the self-paced online Economics of Welding course, attendees learn to identify, measure and manage production costs to reduce expenses and ensure quality. During the course, topics include everything from welding process variables, weld procedure specifications, and calculating weld metal volume and deposition rates to managing the costs of doing business, such as labor, materials, equipment and overhead.
Lean Management for Productivity, another self-paced course hosted online, gives business owners the resources they need to improve their processes and, in turn, increase profits. This course differentiates value-added from non-value-added activities and illuminates the impact each can have on the manufacturing process and applies learned principles to true-to-life scenarios.
“The Lean Management for Productivity one of our most recent educational releases, and it just happens to piggyback so nicely off of the Economics of Welding course” Garcia says. “Taken in succession, it’s basically ‘now that you know the math, let’s put it into context.’ Whether you’re a large or small operation, there’s a lot involved in making sound business decisions, and a lot of that is included in these courses.’”
“As an example,” she says, “we talk about the operator factor – how just one person welds can affect your bottom line. From the heat they’re using to the power source, electrode or shielding gas, there are so many variables to consider when it comes to waste reduction.”
The AWS webinar titled How to Increase your Facility’s Productivity rounds out the bundle with an instructor-led course that breaks down the lean process and other project management principles. With a focus on lean management through identifying waste types, setting up pilot programs and working with management to keep lean principles top of mind, there’s a lot to learn.
“During the webinar, you can optimize your time with the face-to-face instructor,” Garcia says. “It’s great because after absorbing the info from the other two courses, you get the chance to ask an instructor any questions that may have come up along the way.”
There is, of course, more to the Powerfully Enlightening campaign than the Productivity Bundle. Garcia says the goal is to remind those in the welding industry just how much AWS can offer from an educational standpoint.
“AWS is constantly working to add additional training to address all of its members’ and nonmembers’ needs, but if you can’t find a specific type of training on our website, don’t assume that we don’t have it,” she says. “If one customer is likely looking for it, they probably aren’t the only one. We encourage people to reach out to us and ask.”
In the case where a specific topic isn’t covered in AWS’s wide-ranging curriculum, customized training is also an option. With such a broad network of subject matter experts (SMEs) in so many areas, AWS can accommodate almost any customized training requests.
“We do custom training across a plethora of topics,” Garcia says. “If a customer needs laser beam welding training, we’ll track down an SME for that. We’ve done custom training opportunities on inspection and specific material welding for businesses that might need to train their staff on aluminum, for example. The sky’s the limit.”
The style in which these courses can be delivered can also be customized. As with many of AWS’s courses, they can be digested online or in person.
“In the past, we’d heard that people didn’t want to learn online, but that sentiment has shifted over the past couple of years; we’ve all had to be more agile,” Garcia says. “Instead of flying staff to a particular location to sit in a classroom for a week, businesses are now open to enrolling them in online classes.”
For businesses interested in digital offerings, for a limited time, AWS is offering a 15 percent discount on its entire catalog of online courses. For an in-person experience, AWS is offering $200 off the organization’s Certified Welding Inspector Seminar. And, of course, members always receive a discount. Garcia is especially excited for the organization’s corporate members to take advantage.
“The overarching message I would take from our new courses is, at its core, that large-scale impacts can come from making small changes,” Garcia says. “We want attendees to gain the knowledge and wherewithal to recognize the benefits of small tweaks. And then, we want them to take that knowledge back to their operations to find simple opportunities like moving a welding station closer to where material is stored or switching to a different type of filler metal.
“It’s not necessarily how much we can make or how fast, but how efficient we can be,” she concludes.