Focus on the Student Experience: Welding Club
New Club Sparking Ideas
Students in Fox Valley Technical College’s Appleton Welding Club are taking their skills into the community and changing lives.
Established just over a year ago, the Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Welding Club has already helped the disabled, protected the environment, and raised funds for fellow students in need. At this rate, there’s no limit to the potential of the club’s work for the community.
One of its first projects was building the steel framework and handrails for a 40-foot handicapped accessible fishing dock for nearby Pigeon Lake. Club members were responsible to work with other organizations and individuals to secure materials and help transport the dock from the welding lab in Appleton to the lake. “Now people in wheelchairs can better enjoy a fishing experience,” says club president, 22-year-old George Davis.
The club also improved the outside facilities at a temporary transitional shelter for homeless individuals in Appleton. “The organization’s railings were in need of repair,” says 32-year-old club member, Amber Kraemer. “Some sections also needed to be moved for better access. We drew up a plan and did the work on site.”
Kraemer also came up with the idea of making snowflake ornaments to raise money for Seeds of Hope, an FVTC Foundation fund established to support emergency financial needs of students. “I drew up the design in AutoCAD,” she says. “We then cut them out with the laser in the shop.”
Stacy Garza, 27-year-old vice-president of the welding club, has also been involved in developing new fundraising ideas. One recent success was the design and fabrication of garden hose stands topped with metal bumblebees, butterflies, frogs, and hummingbirds. “In addition, we’re thinking about teaming up with the Natural Resources Club to make plant holders and stands,” says Garza.
The club also took on a project late last fall—an overflow gate for Rush Lake in western Winnebago County. “The gate is set in five-foot sections and can be raised to prevent carp from spawning in the lake,” says Davis. “As the ice melts in the spring, the water gets so high in the dam that the carp can enter the lake. By reducing the carp population, the hope is to restore the lake to what it once was.” The club worked in collaboration with Rush Lake Watershed Restoration, Inc. on the effort.
While club members enjoy helping others, the volunteer work also enhances their skills. “In addition to learning problem-solving skills and gaining hands-on practice, club members discovered how to keep each other motivated and how to work in teams,” states Dave Fisher, club advisor and welding instructor. "It all adds to the value of our program and the students’ learning experience."
Welding is Everywhere
Fox Valley Technical College students from both Appleton and Oshkosh bring their skills to a variety of projects for other departments and for the community. Here is a sampling of additional projects in which their skills were recently needed:
- Bike racks for students and visitors at FVTC campuses and regional centers
- New signage for an Oshkosh elementary school
- New gate for Keating Park in the Town of Neenah
- Supporting signage and name plates for FVTC’s Hartling Family Rose Garden
- Time capsule construction for FVTC’s centennial year celebration
- New gate for Kaukauna High School soccer field