FAIRMONT, WEST VIRGINIA – Four students will be the first to graduate from Pierpont Community & Technical College with associate degrees in advanced welding during the May 13 graduation ceremony in Clarksburg.

“We developed the program because we wanted to get students ready for industry,” said Jack Lowe, Pierpont’s welding instructor and program coordinator. “We wanted to make sure that students had the skills to work in the oil and natural gas industries, as well as structural industries.”

Welders are also in high demand. About 40,000 welders will be needed across the United States in the next 10 years, according to the American Welding Society.

All current graduating students have been offered jobs with the Iron Workers Union, where they will also receive additional training, if they choose to take the positions.

Graduates include Tyler Gifford, Danny Kimble, Devan Lamarne and Ariel Mallow. The graduation ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 13 at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in Clarksburg.

Mallow, an Elkins High School graduate, chose welding because it allowed her to explore different aspects, from art to structural welding.

“It was a different career that most women won’t do,” she said. “All of my family are blue-collar workers, and I wanted to make difference.”

She hopes to become a certified welding inspector, and she said by earning her associates degree, she has a leg up already by understanding how to study and work toward an academic degree.

The program is very important to welders who want to broaden their knowledge and skills in welding, Lowe said.

“Pierpont works to meet industry needs and the industries told us they needed qualified welders,” he said. “Welding is more than just putting steel on a plate. Advanced welding will make students more of a professional welder and teaches weld theory, blueprint reading, metallurgy, plate testing, bug-o operations, sub-arch and more.”