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San Diego College of Continuing Education receives $1.175 million welding grant

Members of the Veterans in Piping program at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 230 practice their welding skills.
Katie Orr
Members of the Veterans in Piping program at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 230 practice their welding skills.

The San Diego College of Continuing Education was awarded a $1.175 million grant from a Texas-based nonprofit to double the size of its welding program and expand program facilities.

The funding from BlueForge Alliance, a nonprofit based in Bryan, Texas, is part of a nationwide effort addressing a shortage of skilled welders. The nonprofit is specifically focused on increasing manufacturing capacity for Department of Defense demands and is providing the grant to help meet Navy needs for more submarines.

"This new grant will position our college to continue to expand our welding offerings and facilities right here in Southeastern San Diego," said SDCCE President Tina M. King.


According to the California Employment Development Department, welders in San Diego County are earning an average of $73,531 annually and the EDD projects 42,600 job openings for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers each year, on average, over the decade.

"This generous grant will allow us to roughly double our current maximum capacity of 150 to 160 students per semester to up to 320 students per semester by hiring additional faculty and making substantial site improvements," said Andrei Lucas, SDCCE Dean of Workforce Development, Automotive, Skilled & Technical Trades. "By investing in these areas, scores of additional students each year will have an opportunity to learn the skills needed to embark on a rewarding and well-paying career."

Under the grant proposal, SDCCE leaders estimated the expansion project could be completed within a year and would include $600,000 for additional welding booths, $225,000 for a ventilation upgrade, $200,000 to hire new faculty and $150,000 for electrical upgrades.

The college's welding program is comprised of four separate tracks. Upon completion of 600 hours, students can receive a welding certificate from the American Welding Society. The free welding classes take place in the Mountain View community of southeastern San Diego at the Education Cultural Complex.

"Really, anybody is a great candidate for welding," said welding instructor and program chair Bradley Dorschel. "We have an extremely diverse range of students who come here and leave with the skills necessary. It's a really immersive experience, hands on, about six hours a day, and it's all cost- free."


SDCCE will hold a news conference and check-presentation ceremony with BlueForge Alliance on Friday, Dec. 8, at SDCCE's Educational Cultural Complex.