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      New welding school putting spark back in Michigan manfacturing

      After months of planning, the Industrial Arts Institute started its first day of classes Monday.

      Moran Iron Works developed the institute to help fill the growing demand for welders in local and national job markets.

      New students like Josh Uwahandrich are excited to start a new career in welding.

      â??It will be good to know that at the end of 15 weeks be able to get a good job that I never ever thought I'd get,â?? said Uwahandrich.

      When Moran Iron Works opened enrollment for the institute, the company had more than 30 open welding positions.

      Industrial Arts Institute Instructor Leon Nash said this school is not just for filling positions at Moran.

      â??The guys that are really experienced are getting older,â?? said Nash. â??There's a gap within the generations of experienced welders. So, it's important to start getting more welders that are experienced to fill those areas where guys are retiring.â??

      The course is 15 weeks long.

      According to Executive Director Georgia Abbot of the Industrial Arts Institute, students will spend 80 percent of their time in the fully-equipped lab and 20 percent of the time in the classroom.

      â??We're looking for drive and desire,â?? said Abbot. â??Some definitely had an opportunity to weld in their past. They worked alongside their dad or their grandfather. They're from farms in Michigan. They worked in automotive or they had a couple classes in high school. We also had students with absolutely no background and welding at all.â??

      Some of the students were so driven they gave up their current jobs, saved money and enrolled in the course.

      â??I tried college before,â?? said Uwahandrich. â??I did not like what I was doing. The schoolâ??s got all kinds of new stuff. I think I'll be happy with this.â??

      The institute will conclude its first class of 18 students with a career fair in November.

      Enrollment for the spring course will run from January until April.