Eric Cooper, J. Everett Light Career Center, Indianapolis, Indiana
Eric Cooper, a welding instructor from J. Everett Light Career Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, considers himself fortunate to have had the opportunity to pass along his knowledge and skills to CTE students for the past 10 years. Cooper truly believes in educating tomorrow’s workforce so that his students are prepared and knowledgeable in their future endeavors. He also believes that it is important to give his students information about job prospects and the outlook for their career interests. “I keep them up-to-date on salaries for the trade and current job openings. There’s a lot of technology in the [welding] industry – computers and robotics. It’s not always a dirty job; I make sure they know this is a profession where you use your mind too.”
Cooper incorporates OSHA 10-Hour safety training into his classroom because he understands how important it has become for students to have credentials as proof of their knowledge and education. Cooper’s introduction to welding class begins with the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry safety training and those students that continue on to his advanced welding class will complete the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry safety training course. “I use [OSHA training] as part of my curriculum and it is graded as a major project. We go through the curriculum then [the students] have a week to do the training,” explains Cooper. With the knowledge from OSHA safety training, Cooper’s students feel confident when working on different types of welding equipment.
At times, this OSHA credential has made his students more employable; giving them a competitive edge over their peers. “It is easier for them to be in the field because they are more aware of their surroundings,” says Cooper. Because they learn general workplace safety as well as hand and power tool safety, Cooper feels that his students are well equipped to handle work situations. He believes that safety needs to be a priority for his students and wants to see them prepared in many ways which includes OSHA credentialing and becoming certified by the American Welding Society. “I think that they are seeing that safety is the number one priority on a job site and not just something I preach to them every day,” continues Cooper. “Everything is out there. Any field has things that can potentially hurt you, bite you, or electrocute you. Safety needs to be a priority period.”