Pikes Peak Community College issues Press Release on new Welding Training Center partnership with Springs Fab



Colorado Springs, Colo. – Oct. 12, 2015 – Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) & Springs Fabrication (Springs Fab) opened The Welding Training Center on Aug. 24, 2015 as PPCC students returned for fall semester. The first of its kind, The Welding Training Center is a public-private partnership between PPCC and Springs Fab and is located at Springs Fab’s existing manufacturing building, 850 Aeroplaza Dr., Colorado Springs, Colo., 80916.

This landmark partnership came from shared need. In recent years, Springs Fab struggled to meet demand because of inability to find skilled workers. Meanwhile, PPCC was turning students away from its welding program because of lack of space.

PPCC President Lance Bolton and Springs Fab CEO Tom Neppl started a conversation to address this challenge. Springs Fab had a demand, but needed workforce development. PPCC had willing students, but needed more space. Together Bolton and Neppl felt creating a shared space was the best and right thing to do, a win-win.

The creation of The Welding Training Center allows students the opportunity to learn and train in a real-life manufacturing facility, with state-of the-art equipment and mentors at the ready. Once students graduate, Springs Fab has both a larger and more skilled labor pool. Additionally Springs Fab can use the space for training employees and conducting welding testing during job interviews.

PPCC and Springs Fab have shared use of the center and its equipment. Although PPCC has priority scheduling, when the machinery is not in use for PPCC instructional purposes, Springs Fab may utilize the classroom and lab space.

In the mornings, PPCC Area Vocational Program (AVP) and concurrently enrolled high school students utilize the classroom and machinery. This fall 11 AVP and Concurrent Enrollment students attend class at The Welding Training Center Monday through Friday, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Their courses include three different types of welding: Gas Tungsten, Gas Metal Arc, and Structural Welding; Print Reading; and Layout and Fabrication. 

In the evenings, specifically Wednesday evenings for fall semester, 30 traditional PPCC college students take two courses at The Welding Training Center: Safety for Welders and Print Reading. The goal is to expand class options for traditional college students in spring semester.

Between the morning and evening classes, Springs Fab uses The Welding Training Center to train and expose employees to advanced welding techniques on this leading edge equipment; machinery that is new to the market and provides immediate feedback, taking the learning/training process to a higher level.

Costs for The Welding Training Center were shared.

  • A Perkins Grant, awarded to PPCC, was used to purchase 15 welding stations and an Edison Trainer, a state of the art welding training system. The Perkins Grant provides federal funds to support career and technical education.
  • Springs Fab supplied materials for PPCC personnel to build 16 tables for weld booths at the site. 
  • Springs Fab provides daily Internet connectivity for students and faculty.
  • Springs Fab provided electrical upgrades and construction costs to create the training site.
  • PPCC provides consumables (except for weld gas), Student/Faculty Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), portable ventilation equipment (if necessary), lap top and projection equipment, and any other equipment deemed necessary for instructional purposes.
  • PPCC provides classroom furniture and instructional technology equipment.
  • PPCC pays a monthly rent.

Manufacturers nationwide are experiencing a skills gap, not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs. Several factors created this crisis: economic growth, the retirement of the current workforce, the negative perception of the manufacturing industry among the younger generation, lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers and the decline of technical education programs in public high schools. As a result, manufacturers cannot meet demand, which directly affects bottom line and the nation’s economic prosperity.

Seeing this gap, both Neppl and Bolton have become strong advocates for the manufacturing industry. Neppl saw a real need for workforce development, increased awareness of the value of manufacturing and supply chain development. Bolton recognized these needs and realized the college was paramount in meeting these challenges through creating well trained, skillful and quality graduates.

For both Neppl and Bolton this ground breaking public-private partnership shows what can be accomplished when organizations work together. It also demonstrates that the possibilities for other public-private partnerships are limitless.


Karen Kovaly
Pike Peak Community College
Media Relations Coordinator

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