GREAT FALLS — Great Falls College-MSU's welding test facility has been recognized by the American Welding Society as an Accredited Test Facility after meeting minimum requirements for their personnel, equipment, and test facilities.
GFC-MSU Trades Division Director Joel Sims explained, "Having an accredited testing facility through the American Welding Society is something that we have to do. Every year, we have to get it re-accredited. Every three years, we have to have an on-site visit to make sure that we have everything in order to be able to conduct a viable weld test to the AWS American Welding Society's standards."
Describing this as a win-win for the community, Sims continued, ""Having the testing facility not only is it an advantage for the local community and industry. Having the accreditation and recognized by the American Welding Society is a huge part of it."
Welding instructor Todd Reser, who's been working with a group of kids who are on their paths to becoming potential welders, said, "It's a great class. They are pretty skilled, and their skills are growing for sure. They work hard, they stay busy, honestly, it's one of the best classes I had since I've been here, and it's the biggest class I've had."
As the need for welders continues to grow, Reser explains the importance of why younger generations should take on that profession: "We need skilled labor, craft. The local that I worked in, the average age of the local was like in the mid-50s to early-60s. They're all retiring, and we need skilled hands to take their place, and we need people to train up and take the place of those that went before us, and this is a great opportunity to come and do that."
The testing facility is located in its welding shop and is one of two accredited test centers in the state of Montana, with Flathead Valley Community College being the other.