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Education forms the foundation of the welding industry, and never has the need for education been more critical than in the face of the ever-growing, oft-debated skills gap. Now, the people of Pewaukee, Wisconsin who are considering welding as a potential career path have access to free afternoon and evening welding classes from Aug. The center decided to start offering free welding courses after the success of a similar program at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) in late May. MATC’s success, coupled with the shortage of highly skilled workers available to local companies, inspired Waukesha College to form a free welding program of their own. Anyone interested in Waukesha College’s classes must be at least 18 and have a high school diploma, or equivalent, by the start of training. There are openings for 18 students, and potential applicants should call Marissa Keller, WOW Workforce Program Services Assistant, at (262) 695-8044 for more information. Students seeking similar opportunities should contact their local AWS Section. AWS Learning: If you’re already involved in the welding industry and are looking for more ways to expand you’re welding career, check out our other blogs, podcasts, virtual conferences, online courses, and digital tools designed to help you grow and succeed.
On South Central Avenue below East Pratt Street, three cofounders look to establish a large-scale "campus for makers" in downtown Baltimore.
It was by chance that Andrew Stroup and Corey Fleischer, two locals-turned-contestants on a new engineering-focused Discovery Channel TV show, met Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of gb.tc. Through their time on the show, Stroup and Fleischer met Gui Cavalcanti, who started the Artisan’s Asylum makerspace in Boston, a sprawling, 40,000-square-foot complex where members renting space brew their own beer, construct their own bikes and sculpt pieces of art from metal. It was a match made for makers: nearly a year ago Hardebeck had purchased, on his own, two buildings on South Central Avenue just south of East Pratt Street — 201 Central and 207 Central — under the umbrella organization Baltimore Machine Works, with the intention of transforming both buildings into makerspace facilities. It’s what they call Baltimore Foundery (the misspelling is deliberate). The total area is 4,000 square feet, split evenly between two floors. The Foundery hosted its first free class, a three-hour introductory welding course, which was put on the first Sunday in April for eight people. Fleischer leads the first class, introductory welding, at the Baltimore Foundery in early April.
The three cofounders will host a variety of classes there to gauge people’s interest to ultimately determine what city residents are interested in learning and, therefore, what tools are needed.


But already inside 207 Central is a drill press, a bandsaw and an anvil for a forge and metalworking. Still, the long-term goal for 207 Central is “to have industrial tools, metalworking tools, machines, woodworking tools — enough tools where people can come in and start and finish a project, and have everything they need right there,” Fleischer said. That notion is also at the crux of the the larger, 19,000-square-foot building at 201 Central Avenue. It could be Baltimore’s version of Artisan’s Asylum, although with respect to such particulars as membership dues or rates for renting room inside, Hardebeck isn’t that far along in his thinking just yet. But Stroup, Fleischer and Hardebeck hope that growing interest in what the Foundery offers by way of classes will show that residents here are looking for a large-scale makerspace in downtown Baltimore where they can build prototypes of manufactured products and form new businesses.
In effect, that’s the grandest wish Hardebeck — a former product manager at DeWALT — harbors for the new makerspace: a place that can foster the next generation of blue-collar workers in Baltimore city by offering a community workshop so people can have access to good equipment and classes.
Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Summer Welding Certificate Program to be Offered at MATC’s Mequon Campus. Prospective students must also have at least an eighth-grade math and reading level, be able to pass a drug screening, and have, or be eligible for, a valid driver’s license. Although these courses are contingent on grant money, the school intends to offer them as long as there is demand. After spending a weekend there in mid-January, the two were convinced they needed to find a place within Baltimore where any resident could do the same type of work. The three agreed to become cofounders of the space at 207 Central, and with that arrangement in place, they set to work.
Classes are held on the bottom floor — it’s where Fleischer taught the introductory welding course — with the top floor reserved for any number of things still being decided: Arduino classes, for instance, or a coworking space for makers.
In time, classes will cost a nominal amount — enough to reinvest any money made into more tools for the space.


In turn, people can become entrepreneurs building products in their own small-scale manufacturing facility, albeit one they share with other makers. A recent VentureBeat story chronicled the rise of Marc Roth, a formerly homeless man in San Francisco who used the tools and classes available at the TechShop makerspace to retrain — he was once a C Sharp programmer — and found several hardware startups. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. Department of Labor will cover the tuition for an entry-level welding certificate program offered at the MATC campus in Mequon.
Fab Lab Baltimore, while not directly inside the city limits, is open to the public at the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere. By advancing your welding career you are not only improving your own job prospects and paycheck, you’re also helping the industry fill the detrimental gap in skilled labor. That’s why AWS not only encourages potential welders to take advantage of programs like the one being offered in Wisconsin, but to also use these courses as a cost effective means of pursuing your welding career through specialization.
Whereas he and his Foundery cofounders see the space at 207 Central as the recruiting and learning grounds for future makers, Hardebeck wants to one day fill 201 Central with tools and open it up to residents if the demand for a bigger, community makerspace materializes. Department of Labor grant is paying for the classes offered through the Workforce Development Center of Waukesha County Technical College.



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