Mixed teaching shows success for NTU welding program
Under COVID-19 precautions and protocols, Navajo Technical University’s welding program has seen success with a mixed teaching strategy.
On Sept. 29, a guest presentation was made by Local 1104 pipeline welders. Also the program’s latest classroom technology, the VRTex 360 virtual welder, was unveiled.
NTU’s welding program was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 2015. The program’s enrollment grew each year leading up to the pandemic in 2020.
As recently as 2019, the program had more than 50 declared majors, of which many have graduated or move on to another program.
NTU has acquired new technology like the VRTex 360, a virtual welder that collects data and improves pace and form.
Christopher Storer, a faculty member hired in 2017 to help the program grow, said, “I look at Navajo Technical University as the best kept secret of the Southwest – and it shouldn’t be.
“Our focus is on student success,” he said. “We make sure that when they leave here, they’re ready to go to work to help their families by having a career.”
Part of the program’s success is due to a network of support Storer and his co-instructor, Verna Sue Casamero, have built. Lincoln Electric has provided tools, equipment and training. Industry professionals have shared knowledge and experience.
Siblings Carrie and Gary Miller Jr., of Bloomfield, New Mexico, provided insight on standards for welding pipelines and related facilities.
Carrie Miller also spoke of what it’s like being a female working in a male dominated profession.
This past summer the program joined NTU’s construction technology and energy systems programs to build outdoor learning space at each instructional site. Students applied classroom learning to planning, layout, design, and construction.
Welding major and Crownpoint resident Kelvin Capitan said, “It was confusing at first, but everyone with workforce experience gave me a lot of good knowledge.”
A total of 57 students graduated from NTU’s welding program since 2015. And 73 earned certification with the American Welding Society.
The program requires 33 credit hours with 21 credits. New students are accepted in the spring, summer and fall semesters.
Information: www.navajotech.edu or Christopher Storer, firstname.lastname@example.org.