Date: Wed, Nov 18th, 2020

Great Falls College welding students refurbish old, worn-out bucket for contractors

Great Falls College welding students (from left) Orion McKinney, Nate Beeler, Nathan Jones, Daniel Erlandson and Cody McNee restored an old, worn-out bucket into the workforce for a contractor this semester.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Talk about headaches.

When Doug Zander, a welding instructor at Great Falls College MSU, brought an old, broke down front end loader bucket from a contractor into the college's shop, you could see daylight through parts of it and many other noticeably weak parts were in obvious need of repair.

But the worst part was the stench that came whenever Zander's students in his repair and maintenance class went to work on it. The stench came from the asphalt on the bucket.

"We all left with the worst headaches each day," said Orion McKinney, one of the five second-year welding students in the class who worked on the project to restore the bucket so that it could be put back to use.

When it came to the college's shop, the bucket had, "Junk. Do not use" spray-painted onto it.

Well, after seven work days in Zander's shop over a three-week period, everything is roses, and the bucket is ready and be put back to use.

"I'm really proud," said Zander, showing off all of the places where the students – McKinney, Nate Beeler, Nathan Jones, Daniel Erlandson and Cody McNee – went to work on the project. "They worked really hard on this, and I'm really proud."

It's exactly the kind of project that brought Nathan Jones to Great Falls College MSU's welding program.

Jones, 21, attended Montana State in Bozeman after graduating C.M. Russell High with the intent to study mechanical engineering, but he realized that wasn't the path for him.

"I want to get my hands dirty," he said. "I don't want to sit behind a desk all day. That's not my style."

It's paying off for Jones.

When the Great Falls College welding facility was closed this spring because of the pandemic, Jones and a few other students were able to work and learn thanks to a cooperative agreement the college formed with ADF International at the company's state of the art shop on the north edge of town.

"And they didn't hate me too much, and I got to work there all summer," he said, with a laugh.

Jones could have continued working there, he said, but he elected to come back for the second year of Great Falls College's welding program to broaden his skills to have more options after college.

"It's a good program," he said.

Dr. Susan J. Wolff, CEO/dean of Great Falls College, was immensely proud of the work of the students and Zander when they were showing their work off to her.

"This kind of project-based learning makes all the difference," she told the group. "After 45 years doing this, it just never gets old to see the work of our students."

Each of the five students took a side that needed to be repaired and went to work reinforcing the bucket, bolstering the weak spots and adding some heft to the spots that had become too thin over time.

And one side, got a little special love.

Jones added the words, "Great Falls College MSU 2020" on it.

"We thought, "Why not?" Zander said. "We're proud of our work."

Turns out the project wasn't such a headache and instead a case for the students and faculty's heads to swell a little with pride.

⇦ Back to list page
Record Number: 714