Metals course builds hands-on skills
Posted on: Jan 23, 2018
Shop class students developed hands-on skills while building a trailer in Joe Finn’s Advanced Metals course during the second quarter.
Welding, wiring, wheel alignment and more made the trailer project challenging but enjoyable for 19 students in grades nine through 12, though the majority of the class consisted of seniors.
With graduation only a few months away, some of those seniors voiced appreciation for an experience that could help them land a job in the future.
“Nowadays the trades are not as popular as they used to be. Everybody is going to the university. That’s fine, but I think there are a lot of opportunities out there for people who want to go into the trades,” said senior Cole Schansberg. “Welding, building … not a lot of younger people are doing that anymore.”
When asked if that knowledge would impact his career choice, Schansberg did not hesitate.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I think it’s something I would enjoy. I like working with my hands. This was probably the perfect opportunity to try something like that. If it’s a job you like, you’re not going to work a day in your life.”
Senior Dan Moonen said that whether or not students are considering a job in the trades after high school, shop class is a valuable experience.
“A lot of seniors already have an idea of what they want to do after high school, so some of us find this a better use of our time than taking something like an extra math course,” Moonen said. “It’s fun to try to create something rather than turning in paper homework. Am I going to go to work building trailers? Probably not. Did I enjoy learning welding and actually making something as big as a trailer? Yeah. Not everybody coming into this class wants to be in manufacturing.”
Building the trailer
Instructor Joe Finn said that while the welding and Advanced Metals course is not new, this year is the first in nearly a decade that a significant number of students have signed up.
This is also the first year that students in the class have constructed a trailer. They purchased a kit of materials, including the wheels and axles, for $1,200, and took about seven weeks to put it together.
“It’s not just construction. You have to have a little creativity,” said Moonen. “Every now and then somebody had a better idea than what the plans showed or what we had thought of before. That made the trailer what it is now.”
The trailer is rated to carry 3,500 pounds and was sold shortly after construction finished.
“It’s good for them to get real-life applications,” said Finn, adding that he often hears people say they wish they would have had more hands-on skills coming out of school. “They can say they made something.”
While all the students participated in one form or another, some who excelled in certain areas took on primary roles when needed. Senior Tanner Glasrud, for example, handled much of the wire-feed welding.
“I work construction over the summer so I know some of this stuff, but I didn’t realize how much I would like welding until I actually did it,” he said. “At the start I wasn’t very good, but I would call myself a pretty good welder now.”
Schansberg took the lead in attaching the decking, and said he enjoyed the process overall.
“A lot of us have never wired lights or that kind of thing before, but we’re figuring it out as we go. We’ve been able to adapt,” he said. “I think we did a really good job.”
Glasrud said the project has given students the confidence and problem-solving skills needed to pursue projects on their own initiative.
“It kind of gives you a sense that you can do this by yourself at home,” he said. “That’s what we basically did. We looked at plans and built it. I guess it shows us that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”
* Finn thanked Metro Mold & Design of Rogers for donating equipment to the shop program at Delano, including a band saw and a vision machine to check welds.