COOLSPRING TOWNSHIP – When Wyatt Womer completes a welding project, he sees things in it that a more casual evaluator might not.
“It gives me a good feeling,” the senior at Mercer County Career Center said. “And I think of how I could do better.”
His American flag project, which he created out of metals welded and bolted together, was impressive enough to earn a prominent place in the office of his welding teacher, Grant Gilhousen.
But Womer, as the flag’s creator, knows enough about his craft to see the piece’s few and insignificant flaws. More importantly, the Lakeview School District resident knows how to avoid those flaws the next time because of lessons he learned at the center.
Students in the center’s welding curriculum are benefiting from that instruction, and money from the state stands to enhance the program.
The center has received a $37,591 state grant from the state Department of Education to buy a metal plate roller. Terms of the grant required Mercer County Career Center to provide a dollar-for-dollar match.
Located in Coolspring Township, the career center is a trade school serving 12 Mercer County school districts. The new equipment is expected to arrive in the next month or so, said Tony Miller, the school’s administrative director.
“This is a sizeable piece of equipment,’’ Miller said. “And this will get us more into the industrial size arena.’’
As the name suggests, the roller will allow students to bend and roll metal that can be welded to form the desired shape and size. Rolled material is frequently used in the oil and gas drilling industry, and for machines, cars and appliances, Miller said.
Before the center’s teachers show students how to use the device, they will be students themselves.
“It will take a little time to train our staff for this,’’ Miller said.
In a separate arrangement, the school is buying a laser engraving machine -- which, like the roller, can be used in the school’s welding and precision production metals courses.
Mercer County Career Center teaches 450 local students in grades 10 through 12 and also offers an adult nursing course. The school also added a new course last year in computer information technology, which focuses on computer networking.
“This has been a nice new program for us,’’ Miller said. “There’s a huge demand for this both in offices and industrial uses.’’
The school has regular contact with local high schools and business, to determine career and trade needs for students graduating from high school.
“We want kids on the right pathway in the workforce,’’ Miller said.
NOTE: This article and the accompanying photos have been edited to include Wyatt Womer's correct first name.