Alabama summer camp sparks an interest in welding for girls

Even in the face of a recession, great careers are currently available in many technical fields, and throughout the nation efforts are under way to grow the workforce in those jobs through greater diversity. A week-long free summer camp offered by Calhoun Community College is sparking the interest of area high school girls in non-traditional, high-tech, high wage careers in welding and electric...
By Staff September 1, 2009

Even in the face of a recession, great careers are currently available in many technical fields, and throughout the nation efforts are under way to grow the workforce in those jobs through greater diversity.

A week-long free summer camp offered by Calhoun Community College is sparking the interest of area high school girls in non-traditional, high-tech, high wage careers in welding and electrical technology.

The college’s 3rd annual Summer Welding and Electrical Technology (SWeETy) camp offered participants a unique opportunity to learn hands-on about technical skills that can lead to high-paying, satisfying careers in high growth industries.

The camp provides experiences in welding and electricity and helps students develop problem-solving skills and teamwork as they participate in instructor-led projects, field trips and interact with women role models during industry-sponsored lunches.

“The students are challenged to break down stereotypes that may deter girls from pursuing technical professions by introducing them to successful women who currently work in nontraditional fields and by offering them a number of convincing reasons why girls should consider technical careers,” said camp coordinator Gwen Baker.

Athena Hinkle, 17, is a student at Athens Bible School who is also enrolled in the welding program at Limestone County Career Technical Center. She attended the camp because one of the camp’s instructors is also her high school welding teacher. At the present time, Hinkle says that her plans are to enter a college welding program when she leaves high school.

Fifteen-year-old Courtney Turpen, a student at Moulton High School, signed on for the SWeETy camp “because I really like welding and I really wanted to learn how to weld.”

Courtney plans on welding as her career and says that she is seriously considering entering the welding program at Calhoun after high school graduation.

“By introducing these career options to young women still in high school, we hope to guide them early on into the math and science courses they will need to prepare them for earning a degree or certificate in these high-demand, high-paying fields,” said Jim Swindell, associate dean for technology education at Calhoun.

“At Calhoun, we also offer many of our technical courses at the high school level, so students can receive dual credit for classes they take now, before graduation. More importantly, after completing the two-year degree programs, they have the potential to earn up to $50,000 annually at a very young age,” Swindell added.

Sixteen-year old Casey Hamer, a student at Woodville High School, traveled almost an hour each morning to get to the camp, but felt it was worth the drive. “My mom found out about this online and I really like trying new experiences, so I decided to come. The welding is fun and it’s is something I might like to do later,” she said.

The girls welding camp offered an introduction to what organizers called “a high-demand, high-paying field.”