“As an association, one of our goals is to invest in the future of the steel construction industry. One way we can do that is by working with our member companies to host these types of educational events,” said Pete Gum, SEAA’s Executive Director.
“While it can be difficult to know exactly how many students end up having a career in the steel industry, we know that we are making a difference for our member companies and their local communities by showcasing everything that the skilled trades have to offer,” said David Deem, President of SEAA and President of Deem Structural Services.
Sporting hard hats, vests, and other PPE provided by sponsor Columbia Safety and Supply, students rotated through 13 stations staffed by SEAA member companies and equipment suppliers. Florida-based contractors who participated were GMF Steel Group, Bowman Steel, Gardner-Watson Decking, Gardner-Watson Studs, and Shelby Erectors.
Students could observe or participate in hands-on demonstrations of welding, steel modeling, rebar tying, surveying, decking, and more. Trivent Safety Consulting led the students in a dynamic stretch routine to highlight the importance of physical health in the skilled trades. Industrial Training International provided a virtual reality crane operator simulator experience. Others stations included:
- Certified Slings and Supply, Safety Equipment Station
- GMF Steel Group, Rigging & Surveying and Quality Control
- Hilti, Stand-up Decking Tool Station
- National Center for Construction Education & Research
- Nelson Stud Welding, Stud Welding Station
- Red-D-Arc, Welding Station
- SafeWaze, Fall Protection Station
- SDS2, Steel Modeling Station
The response was overwhelmingly positive from both students and teachers that were in attendance. “This hands-on event helped to reinforce everything we have been telling our students about having a career in the trades,” said Thomas Hoien, a teacher at Fort Meade Construction Academy. “Being able to get them out of the classroom where they can try different tasks, see the technology being used, and ask questions gets them excited for the future.”
“This event opens so many doors for me,” said Brandon Williams, a student at Ridge Technical College.
Following the career fair, GMF Steel Group received several inquiries about its Structural Steel Ironworker Apprenticeship Program. Introduced last year, the program uses the SEAA/NCCER curriculum, which provides nationally recognized credentials. Participation in training is free, and all apprentices employed by GMF Steel Group qualify for employee benefits.
“We are offering a career path — by teaching a skilled trade and providing the opportunity to work toward many different roles within the company,” said Andy Norman, President of GMF Steel Group.
“From GMF Steel’s commitment to host and coordinate with schools, demo stations executed by many companies, to lunch provided by Gardner-Watson Decking, the support of our member companies doesn’t go unnoticed, and the event wouldn’t have been a success without them,” Gum said.