Automotive and welding programs go hybrid

Marisa Webb, pictured welding on aluminum using the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding process, is one of many welding students transitioning into hybrid classes this fall. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Casey)
Both the welding and automotive Mesa Community College (MCC) programs will be hybrid this fall due to social distancing guidelines. 

“Our classes will be hybrid with lectures online, and the lab will be in person,” said Automotive Service Program Director Steve Skroch. “All in-person classes will be car-to-class.”

In the MCC spring semester, almost all students took classes remotely. The decision to return students to their classrooms has been a debate despite a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that lists Arizona as the leading rate of coronavirus infection among children, according to AZ Central. 

“We will be on average reduced by 18 to nine students per class,” Skroch said about new social distancing rules for MCC to comply with the Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 guidelines.

 “Switching to online for automotive is challenging as we went to virtual lab activities,” Skroch added. “Knowledge is acquired, but muscle memory is not achieved because students were lacking hands-on activities.”

He noted that although students were disappointed they were unable to return to the in-person format for fall, no courses have been canceled.

MCC welding programs have had similar complications due to coronavirus. Welding program director Curtis Casey said fall in-person courses have halved their student class count to meet CDC guidelines. In the automotive program, 18 students also dropped to nine. 

“We’ve instituted a lot of CDC guidelines where we all have to wear some sort of face coverings,” Casey said, “and wearing all our regular PPE that we normally wear anyway.”

Welding classes were disrupted back in spring because teaching the fabrication process between metals blending together in high heat requires hands-on practice. 

“We had the spring semester students coming back,” Casey explained about the summer semester. “They are returning to finish some of their assignments and some of the work they weren’t able to finish before spring break.”

MCC welding students who came back for this opportunity were allowed to work at their own pace. 

“If someone wants to knock out 8-10 hours of work per week that’s up to them,” Casey said. 

Similarly, fall welding courses will also be hybrid. MCC teaches basic welding practices including MIG, TIG, stick, and flux-cored arc welding. Theory classes are the only courses Casey said will be held entirely online.

For students taking courses online who need help adapting, visit the site for remote/online student services. MCC offers online advising chats, virtual student appointments, and online orientations.

About Author

Allison Cripe is a guest writer for the Mesa Legend. She also writes songs and short stories such as this one in Across the Margin: Dogs are her spirit animal(s).

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