When Nelson began his career with BION in 2015, he never planned on learning to weld, let alone becoming the first welder to be fully trained through in-house instruction. Now, as the first graduate of BION’s internal welding program, he is progressing in leaps and bounds towards a bright future in skilled trade.
Shortly after he started working, Nelson took advantage of BION-sponsored Apprenticeship Programs. BION is a Department of Labor approved employee apprenticeship sponsor for Plumbing and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Apprenticeship Programs (Learn more here). After completed two years of plumbing apprenticeship classes, Nelson decided to start welding classes, as well. That meant working a full-time job while studying two different disciplines. Nelson says his desire to learn to weld grew from his interest in pipe fitting.
BION’s welding class occurs once per week in a custom training lab. Taught by a full time welding foreman, the year-long program offers extensive hands-on experience in every aspect of welding, progressing from basics to more advanced techniques. Although the class was challenging, particularly while learning to weld in place, Nelson said the instruction and continuous practice during class and on the job were important keys to his success.
The final welding test involved showcasing his skills on a weld coupon for inspection. Nelson recalls that the process was both physically and technically challenging since welding thick metal pieces requires more time and precision. The weld coupon was bent in four directions to test for weaknesses and breaks,and also tested to verify it’s tensile strength of at least 70,000 pounds per square inch (psi). All testing is conducted by an independent facility located in Maryland.
Now Nelson is a certified welder and is planning to graduate from the Plumbing Apprenticeship Program this spring – and he’s not stopping there! Nelson plans to take more classes and later sit for the journeyman’s test. His overall goal is to become a foreman and run projects, using the skills he has acquired to play an active role in every part of the process. Nelson is proud of his accomplishments thus far and thankful for the opportunities available at BION. “Getting a job here is one of the best decisions I have ever made. They help with my education and give me so many opportunities to succeed.”