Ogden-Weber Tech opens new training facility for composites building, testing

Wednesday , October 11, 2017 - 12:00 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Ogden-Weber Technical College has opened a new building in an effort to serve the growing industry need for skilled workers.

With a $6.5 million legislative appropriation, the school was able to renovate a 43,000-square-foot bay in the Business Depot Ogden. The new space houses the composites program and the nondestructive inspection program.

The goal is to give students adequate space to learn and broaden the pipeline to employment, Roger Snow, vice president of Instructional Services, said

Snow said Hill Air Force Base is the biggest employer of composites and NDI technicians but there are roughly 25 companies in Northern Utah who are also looking for qualified job candidates.

“They're looking for creative problem-solvers,” Snow said. “The technology in these areas is advancing so rapidly so the technicians need to be able to think on their feet.”

In the new space, composites students have a large storage room as well as a high-powered oven to bake composites under pressure. There are specific, sealed-off areas for spray-painting and sanding that are pressurized to suck particulates out of the room or into downdraft tables.

Composites instructor Doug Talbert said nondestructive inspection is about ensuring quality without affecting the integrity of the product.

“If you were in a car accident and you thought your arm might be hurt, we wouldn’t cut your arm open to see if it’s broken,” he said.

Students at the facility can test certain products or pieces of machinery using high-tech X-ray machines, ultrasonic waves or submersion and testing for certain metal particulates.

Snow said these programs used to be housed in a 9,000 square foot space with room for only 40 students on the main campus.

“They were basically climbing on top of each other,” he said. The new building can hold more than 200 people.

Snow said donations from area businesses and some internal funds were used to acquire the high-tech equipment in the new bay.

The adjacent bay opened in the BDO about five years ago, Snow said, and houses custom fit and automotive programs.

Snow said he plans to work with other entities, such as universities or the Ogden School District. The school district asking voters to approve a $106.5 million bond initiative this fall and use some of the funds to build Innovation Centers onto all three junior high schools.

Ben Lomond High School already offers a composites class.

According to Payscale.com, the average starting salary for a composite technician is $36,000 annually and $40,000 annually for a NDI tester.

“This is all about building a pipeline,” Snow said. 

An official ribbon-cutting will be held starting at 4 p.m., Monday Oct. 16 at 918 West 2nd Street, Building 10.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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