Joe Volk started out like many students at South Central College. He graduated from high school in Morristown and enrolled in a technical program, started working in industry while going to school, and continued to work with some advancement opportunities and some job changes as the economy shifted. Now he’s back at South Central College trying to do for students what Dean Odette, his Welding instructor in 1990-1991, did for him.
Joe started working at SCC well before any students were on campus to develop the curriculum. “I’m trying to give students a skill set to learn welding processes and establish a foundation for moving up to team leader, supervisor or engineering positions. Advancing from welder to operator or another position within a company is not to be feared. I did it and they can do it,” Joe stated.
The 16 credit certificate program that Joe teaches includes Blueprint Reading, OSHA general industry safety and welding safety, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Gas Metal Arc Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding and Oxy-Fuel Welding & Cutting. It’s a new, one-semester program on the Faribault campus of South Central College.
In 2007 Joe enrolled at Riverland Community College and earned an Associate degree in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, but the opportunity to teach came along before a job in law enforcement, and he’s thrilled to return to Faribault to teach. Joe stated, “I noticed right away that some people who were working here when I was going to school are still here, but there are also people who were going to school here when I was, who also work here.”
Since starting at SCC Joe has received training from the American Welding Society for certification as a welding inspector and has participated in Lincoln Electric’s Welding Educator Workshop.
SCC’s Welding Certificate program is helping to fill the regional need for trained welders. Joe remembers when a ripple went through the industry with the introduction of robots to weld parts; “Weld shops have robotics but they can’t do it all. Some welding has to be done by hand and it will always be that way.”
Joe commented that the changes in the building are obvious with the construction project that just finished, and while the welding lab was moved in the early phase of the $13.3 million expansion project, the dedication to maintaining the lab is evident. It is a top-notch lab with new equipment and new lighting. SCC’s commitment to investing in its technical programs is evident in this space.
When asked what advice he’d give to new students about finding success he remarked, “Success is a recipe, it’s a combination of skills, drive, luck, persistence and opportunity.” He’s happy to be here to help students develop their skills as welders.
South Central College in Faribault draws most of its students from a 30-mile radius of the campus – Joe’s family included. His sister and two nieces attended SCC for nursing, accounting and administrative assistant, and two of his sons are currently attending. “This is a great place to be,” Joe said, “helping students learn to weld is my job, but everybody at SCC has helped me get my feet on the ground and learn the ropes around here. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Story submitted by Shelly Rockman, Faribault Foundation Executive Director