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Scouts to bring the heat at COC

Professor says a welding merit badge would help teach Scouts teamwork, safety, responsibility

Posted: April 17, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Welding instructor Jack Compton, center, works with brothers who are Boy Scouts, Bleys (cq) and Brand Foust at COC welding class on Thursday.

A local teacher wants the Boy Scouts of America to be prepared for metal.

The organization offers merit badges for plumbing, woodwork and coin collecting.

So why not a merit badge for welding?

Jack Compton, welding professor at College of the Canyons, is part of a committee initiated by the American Welding Society that plans to submit a curriculum to the Boy Scouts of America in the fall for a welding badge.

“There’s a great need for welders,” Compton said.

Recent research shows that by 2010, the country will need 200,000 welders to replace retiring welders from the baby-boomer generation, said Compton, who has taught at the community college for 33 years.

“Everything we have today is, in one way or another, associated with welding,” Compton said.

That includes infrastructure like buildings, bridges and towers.

“All these things are going to be built or need to be built,” Compton said.

The American Welding Society wants to reverse common misconceptions that welding is a dirty and dangerous job, David Landon, chairman of the welding merit badge comittee.

“We want to expose as many people in the school systems and in the scout programs, both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to welding as a career,” he said.

Welding goes beyond opening career opportunities for young students and teaches kids about teamwork, safety and responsibility, he said.

Chase Shillig, leader of Boy Scout Troop 587, gave about 30 of his Scouts, ranging in age from 12 to 18, the opportunity to weld with Compton.

“It really helps them to see what’s out there and hopefully just gives them some common skills,” he said.

Even if kids don’t pursue a career related to welding, they would pick up beneficial skills for everyday life, especially when things around the house break, Shillig, who holds multiple welding certifications, said.

“I think it’s more important to have merit badges like this,” Shillig said.

Two of Compton’s current students at College of the Canyons are active with the Boy Scouts of America.

Bleys Foust, 18, took his first welding class after his dad encouraged him to learn the trade.

“We started out with just one little welding class,” he said. “After that, we were blown away. We really liked it.”

Foust plans to become certificated in the trade. His goal is to find a job that uses welding skills, he said.

Foust’s brother, Brand, 16, also takes welding classes at College of the Canyons.

“It was really interesting because I had no clue what welding was,” he said.

Foust thinks young Boy Scouts would benefit from having a welding badge.

Compton developed a passion for welding at age 8, after working with his dad, a sheet-metal worker, on projects, he said.

He spent 12 years working as an aerospace welder before beginning his teaching career.

Decades later, the task of welding still amazes Compton, something he tries to show his students.

“I think it is so amazing that I could take two pieces of solid metal and bring them together,” Compton said.




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