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Exploring MCTC’s welding and metal fabrication program with Todd Bridigum

Posted on: September 20th, 2012 by insidemctc No Comments
Todd Bridigum assists student Lizzy Hallas

Todd Bridigum assists student Lizzy Hallas

Talk to anyone in the welding field and they’ll inevitably tell you two things: first, the work itself is a unique mix of art and trade, and second, there are myriad job opportunities on the horizon.

MCTC Welding and Metal Fabrication Instructor Todd Bridigum won’t argue with either statement. After learning welding at Saint Paul College, Bridigum worked in the field for several years before joining MCTC in 2002. We asked him for his thoughts on MCTC’s program, career prospects for welders and how welding fits into the modern-day U.S. manufacturing resurgence.

How did you get into welding? 

I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Hamline University. While studying, I fell in love with visual arts and wanted to further develop my skills. Going into welding was a natural choice. I earned a welding and metal fabrication diploma and worked for several Twin Cities-area companies, building everything from spiral staircases to hospital equipment to industrial ovens. I also have a studio space where I’m able to continue my studies in prints, drawings and metal sculpture.

What do you teach at MCTC?

I’m an instructor for all of the day courses within MCTC’s welding and metal fabrication program, along with welding courses within the machine tool technology and HVAC-R programs. I also enjoy team teaching a direct metals course in MCTC’s visual arts program.

Are you seeing an increased demand for welding?

Yes. We’re seeing a revival in the U.S. and manufacturing, and welding touches all areas of the manufacturing process. There’s a significant gap in the welding field because many of today’s welders are in their mid-50s and will be retiring soon. As a result, there will be more career opportunities in the years ahead.

Welders are also needed outside of the manufacturing sector. Consider Xcel Energy. It’s an energy company, but you could also consider it a welding company because it employs hundreds of welders around the country to maintain its plants.

How has MCTC responded to the demand for welders? 

We recently added an evening welding program and we’re looking at expanding the day program to keep up with demand. Welding training will continue to grow at MCTC.

Why is the program so popular? 

Students gain tangible skills with a short investment of time.The program provides a strong foundation so students can go directly into the field or continue their studies in an engineering program at a four-year university.

All of that aside, welding is challenging. You can compare welding to learning to play the piano because it takes lots of practice to do it well. Once you master welding, however, you’ll have a marketable skill and will have a strong career now and into the future.

MCTC Trains Skilled Workers

Posted on: October 26th, 2011 by insidemctc No Comments

While seven percent of Minnesotans are out of work, many Minnesota businesses are having a hard time finding qualified workers. On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Gov. Mark Dayton convened a day-long jobs summit to discuss this employment gap.

The Star Tribune covered the event in a front-page feature, “Closing skill gap key to solving job crisis.” Todd Mills, a machine tool technology student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, is shown adjusting the settings of a metal lathe in the article. (Todd is featured again in “Advanced manufacturing: Help Wanted.”)

machine tool technology

Cecil Porter, machine tool technology student at MCTC

In a related opinion piece, “Got the people, but not the skills,” Cecil Porter, another machine tool technology student, is shown using a vertical mill machine to make a dovetail cut out of a piece of steel.

MCTC’s career and technical programs, including Machine Tool Technology and others, are helping to bridge the gap in the workforce by training future workers for jobs in manufacturing and construction.

Faculty in our HVAC, Welding and Metal Fabrication, Machine Tool Technology and Construction Electricity programs are providing technical knowledge and hands-on skills to students — critical for gaining employment with many companies, including manufacturers and production facilities throughout Minnesota. Kim Munson, MCTC’s machine tool technology instructor, boasts a 100% job placement rate of his students.

Find out more about our manufacturing and construction programs: