St. Paul students take welding technology for a test drive

Come 2025, 1 in 5 jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades. One of the most in-demand careers is in welding. At St. Paul High School in Ottawa, students have the opportunity to explore career opportunities through the Transportation Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) program. The program is headed up by Chad Legault, an innovative educator who wanted to find a way to introduce the skillset to students in a safe and real-world setting. Mr. Legault found it in an app called “Welducation.”

Real-life welding experience through an app!

Students can download the app to their phone or Chrome Book and start the learning process in a matter of minutes without the fear of needing a fire extinguisher nearby! They use the app to practice basic welding skills and can even try their hand at more challenging skills like a fillet weld and single butt welds.

Even more impressive, the app provides students with immediate feedback on how they are doing and awards points. And like many apps, students can compete against themselves or others.

St. Paul students are set up to take on the world and thrive

It’s one thing to compete against yourself or your classmates, but it is a whole other level when you can compete against students worldwide. The app allows students from countries as varied as Germany, the USA, and Italy to compete. To date, the highest score on the worldwide leaderboard is 10,500 points for welding a bead. St. Paul students hold two of the top ten global scores at 3rd and 8th place. 

St. Paul student, Izzy Wasilka, said she was motivated by the friendly competitions that made learning fun. She added using the app helped build her confidence and concentrate on precision, speed and timing online. She thinks the app helped her become a better welder.

Taking skills to the next level with a welding gun simulator

As the student skills improved, they moved on to a more advanced welding simulator that gave more detailed feedback. The self-contained Lincoln Electric Simulator has a realistic welding gun that lets students mimic holding a steady line while using both hands. This innovative technology used in the transportation SHSM classes allows students to get immediate feedback on how they are doing regarding positioning above the plate, work angle, and travel speed. 

Mr. Legault, pictured below, says the simulator offers students a realistic experience of holding the welding gun properly – it is so authentic that it builds muscle memory while helping to develop confidence in how to position the torch so the students can focus on the welding at hand.

Practical career experience in high school that can lead to lucrative careers

For those students who have never welded before, using technology allows them to learn the basics in a safe, fun and engaging way. Students have an opportunity to experience what it’s supposed to look like and can then try it with actual welding equipment. 

Luna Conners said, “It started out as a cool thing, and I like hands-on learning. It helped me realize opportunities existed in welding.” Conners, a grade 12 student, has been accepted into Algonquin college next fall for the Motive Power Technician program and their Welding and Fabrication program. 

Canadian-trained welders make excellent wages, work with their hands and experience a strong sense of job pride and satisfaction. It’s one of a very few careers that can provide you with a six-figure income without a university degree! Highly skilled welders willing to travel and/or work in challenging conditions can earn well over $100,000.00 a year. For example, travelling industrial pipe welders can make anywhere between $50,000 and $185,000 a year!

Opportunities to gain career experience at your local Ottawa Catholic High School

With post-secondary tuition fees on the climb, there is no better time to start exploring your career options than when you’re in high school! At your local OCSB high school, you can gain experience in a wide range of career areas while working towards your high school diploma. Learn more about career-related hands-on learning programs at your neighbourhood Catholic high school. 

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