By Rick Hiduk
Ray Ingaglio, the chief welding instructor at Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC), had left teaching and started his own welding business. But when the natural gas industry came to town and required skilled workers, he came back to teach the future generations of welders.
When Cabot came to Susquehanna County a little over a decade ago, SCCTC was seen as the launching pad for a number of programs that could produce local workers as the natural gas industry expanded.
“The welding program started because of the oil and gas industry,” said Ingaglio, noting that it has grown into one of the school’s most popular programs in just six years with more than 50 students enrolled. As students caught wind of the family-sustaining wages offered by the gas industry, Ingaglio related, “that motivated them to want to get into it.” Many of those who enter the program as high school students are already mechanically-inclined, and welding is a practical extension of that aptitude. Additionally, adult learners are looking to acquire new skills that will lead to more lucrative employment.
The reputation of the welding course at SCCTC goes well beyond the quality of instruction. With Cabot’s help, the school is able to provide more specific training, technologies, and certification that isn’t offered anywhere else.
Ingaglio cited Cabot’s donation of four tractor-trailer loads of pipe, enough to last eight to 10 years, as one example of Cabot’s partnership. “Most high school-level welding programs do not offer pipe welding due to the expensive materials,” he stated. “Over half of my seniors are welding pipe now.”
Some have progressed to downhill pipe welding and gained a level of API certification that would otherwise have eluded them or taken much longer to accomplish. “It requires a very high level of skill, and it’s almost impossible to learn in one or two years,” Ingaglio related. “The fact that they had an unlimited amount of pipe allowed them to practice nonstop.”
“The donation that Cabot has made for pipe is humongous,” he stressed.
Cabot supplies proctors to grade the practical portion of the students’ welding tests, whereby the best of them achieve national certification. SCCTC instructors are not permitted to conduct the evaluations. “We need people who are experienced in the field,” Ingaglio said of the Cabot proctors. “While they are there, they also have time to converse with the students and give them an idea of what the real world of welding is about.”
“Every day is different. I like kids. They keep me young,” he stated. “I like sharing what I know. And every year, I get a new batch and do it all over again,” explains Iglaglio,
“A lot of high school-aged students, in the long run, want to end up working for Cabot,” he explains. “They want to work in the natural gas industry.”