By Robert Colman
Northern College of Kirkland Lake, Ont., has made a name for itself with its welding engineering technician and technologist
programs. The college is the only one in North
America authorized by the International
Institute of Welding as an Authorized Training
Body, which means that the school can graduate welding engineering technologists with the
International Welding Technologist (I WT) designation, a certification valid in 59 countries.
But the college has also introduced innovations
in its welder/fitter program. It is a two-year
program that has been compressed into one full
year of learning to allow students to enter the
workforce more rapidly. Like many other colleges,
Northern tries to adapt its programs to the needs
of the market.
Plasma Programming Benefits
The two Torchmate plasma cutting tables are a
big change for the college. One is a 4-ft. by 8-ft.
table and the other is 4-ft. by 4-ft. The tables have
a relatively small footprint and come preassembled, benefits for the college.
The college’s shop cuts mostly 1⁄16-in., 1⁄8-in.,
and 20-gauge material, and Tim Skjonsby, who
teaches CAD and fixture design, says the new
tables allow students to get clean cuts with great
precision on complex parts in these materials.
However, it’s the CNC programming part of the
equation that really makes a big difference for the
students, according to Skjonsby.
“Students get AutoCAD® free from the day they
enroll, and although students do learn how to
draft technical drawings manually, for very com-
plex shapes it’s quick and efficient to use these
programs,” Skjonsby explained. “And realistically,
that is probably what they would be doing out in
the field. It also teaches them the efficiency of
doing things in AutoCAD, and brings drafting to
life. Using AutoCAD, you can bring a file down to
the shop floor quickly and almost instantly have
Student Reuben Desjardins is shown with a fire pit
made with the CNC plasma cutting system.
New plasma tables,
machines offer newer tools to
students in varied programs