Staff photo by Fritz Busch Clare Fischer of New Ulm prepares to do some welding on a cross she is making at the Big Ideas 3-H Welding Club class at New Ulm High School Saturday.

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Big Ideas, 4-H team up for weekend welding class

NEW ULM — Students praised a weekend welding class that grew from a partnership between Big Ideas Inc. and 4-H at New Ulm High School on Saturday mornings.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Clare Fischer of New Ulm prepares to do some welding on a cross she is making at the Big Ideas 3-H Welding Club class at New Ulm High School Saturday.

NEW ULM — Students praised a weekend welding class that grew from a partnership between Big Ideas Inc. and 4-H at New Ulm High School on Saturday mornings.

Students have the option of showing their projects at the Brown County Fair with the opportunity to advance to the Minnesota State Fair.

Classes covered welding safety rules, basic welding and shop concepts, machine setup and successful use of a MIG (wire feed), TIG (tungsten arc) welding and ARC/stick (shielded metal arc welding).

“I’m excited to see where we go with it. The kids seem to like the six-week club. We wanted to get kids interested in the trades. Hopefully, the program will grow into all trades,” said 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Abigail Schwab.

Students had glowing remarks about the welding club.

“I learned to weld and use a plasma cutter,” said Augie Fliszar.

Clare Fischer designed and built a metal cross.

“The class gave me the ability to learn a new skill and do projects with instructors who worked with me and taught me how to do it,” Fischer said.

“It’s not a real big class, so you can learn more than you might in a big class. And it’s hands-on experience,” said Russell Hellendrung.

Aaron Dewanz worked on making a skidsteer hitch attachment that could be attached to a three-point tractor hitch.

“I enjoyed learning about the welding industry. I think I’d enjoy doing it as a job,” Dewanz said.

Instructor Eric Fliszar praised the class.

“We’re seeing the future of fabrication here. These are America’s future fabricators. It’s a fantastic experience,” Fliszar said.

Big Ideas is a New Ulm-based, non-profit organization created to expose students age 13 and older to the value of skilled trades with hands-on Community Education classes and gain a sense of accomplishment attained from a job well done.

The goal of the organization is to provide opportunities to explore, discover and learn real-world trade skills used in trades like welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, commercial baking and sewing, to mention a few.

There is a shortage of skilled tradesmen and women. Given the further enrollment decline in trade, technical schools and apprenticeships, the shortage is forecast to become dire, according to Big Ideas.

Anyone interested in learning about a new job without quitting their current one, or youth trying to decide what to do as a career or as a new hobby, is invited to join a class. Cost is $60.

For more information, visit www.BigideasUSA.org

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com