Welding students at Harlem learn the trade by crafting massive barbecue grill

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Welding is a skill that isn’t taught in many schools, but learning it could put kids on a path for a job that’s in high demand.

One local welding instructor keeps his students interested in the trade by turning their creations into donations for a good cause.

“My jaw basically dropped when I saw the finished product,” said Harlem Roscoe Fire Chief Don Shoevlin, when he first say a grill that students from Harlem High School created just for his firefighters.

“Everybody was just in awe because of the way it was done, the size of it,” he said. “The next day, they were starting to cook with it.”

The massive grill sits on a trailer for easy transportation. It also serves as a double smoker. There’s space to put a cooler, and there’s even a spare tire.

The grill took instructor William Duncan’s welding class all year long to finish.

Senior Patrick Stroup said he enjoyed “just to see how they reacted to it, when I can say, ‘Hey, I welded that and put it together.'”

The grill isn’t the first created by Duncan’s students over the past 13 years. Over the years, they’ve created and donated 22 custom grills.

“It brings the class to life, so it’s not just repetitive, over and over,” Duncan said.

A Marine Corps veteran, Duncan said he first picked up the trade in the military and he knew he wanted to continue putting it to use after serving his country.

“I had a notion that I wanted to teach at some point in time, and I worked at Woodward, and that’s when I realized I need to…share the knowledge,” he said. “It’s not so much just welding. There’s many branches in there that give them opportunity.”

Madisyn Gould, a recent graduate of the class helped design the grill.

“Being able to bring out my creativity on a computer and being able to make it [was really satisfying],” she said.

Gould was put in charge of creating the cut outs that went on the grill, suing a water jet machine. Gould was so good at her job that she got hired at a Aesthetic Metals before she even graduated.

“I do pretty much the same thing [now]. I go through and do some of the drawings, get everything cleaned up, and get it cut on the machine,” she said

Duncan says his class is creating opportunities in places some students wouldn’t even think of.

“My generation is creeping up on retirement and there’s a lot of shoes that need to be filled. We need to make sure that we have these classes in the high schools that are creating the want and need to do this,” he said.

A grill being made by the 2019-2020 class will go to “Operation Combat Bike Saver” in Indiana, a non-profit that works with veterans with PTSD by helping them build motorcycles.

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