Wayne State joins NSF-funded collaboration to enhance outcomes for welding technology students

A multi-institution team of researchers and educators was awarded a three-year, $799,982 National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant to investigate educational experiences and career outcomes for students in welding technology programs.

This collaboration will identify factors that contribute to students’ non-continuation of welding technology programs and develop resources to support retention, associate degree completion and matriculation to a four-year program. The project is particularly timely for Wayne State University, which introduced a bachelor of science program in welding and metallurgical engineering technology this fall.

Ece Yaprak, chair and professor of engineering technology at Wayne State University, is one of three co-principal investigators on the project. Joi Mondisa, assistant professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan, is the principal investigator. Parmeshwar Coomar from Monroe County Community College and Timothy Pawlowski from Macomb Community College are also co-PIs.

“We are glad to have received this grant at just the right time, as we have just launched our new undergraduate program,” said Yaprak. “Our work on this grant will help us better understand the welding industry's needs and better prepare our students to meet those needs.”

More than half of all man-made products in the U.S. require the work of welders but, according to the American Welding Society, there will be a shortage of up to 450,000 welding professionals by 2022. As infrastructure ages, new materials emerge and an emphasis on quality in advanced manufacturing increases, developing an influx of skilled workers in this field will be crucial.

The project will engage a variety of academic and industrial stakeholders to ensure that welding technology programs align with the expectations of employers. Faculty and administrators can also leverage findings to make informed decisions that promote student success.

Wayne State’s new program in welding and metallurgical engineering technology is an upper-two-year curriculum for students who have completed their first two years in a comparable program elsewhere. There are nearly 1,000 students enrolled in welding courses between Oakland, Macomb, Monroe and Washtenaw community colleges, all of which are located within 45 miles of Wayne State’s campus in Midtown Detroit. Wayne State is only the second university in Michigan to offer a four-year degree in welding.

This project is funded by the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy. The award number for this project is 2000730.


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