Brody Rainbolt is in the Pipe Welding program at the Indian Capital Technology Center in Muskogee and the Fort Gibson senior is also a lineman on the Tigers football team and he says there is a parallel between the two.
“Welding and football are similar in that you have to work hard to be successful and you have to be able to work well with the people around you,” said the 6-4, 265 pound Rainbolt.
The program at ICTC is under the direction of Rusty Stonebarger, now in his 23rd year as the instructor for the two-year program. And he has witnessed some changes in the way things are done during that time.
“When we first started, we didn’t have a way to get the kids really certified but now we help them get their steam card which qualifies them to work on high pressure steam lines like at OG&E or Georgia Pacific. We spend a couple of weeks in the classroom teaching primarily safety early on, but after that it’s mostly shop time. I try to make the class as much like a real-life welding shop as possible and make them feel like they’re my employees,” said Stonebarger.
Rainbolt says he got interested in the welding program through an uncle who welds and “makes good money” and enjoys the hands-on teaching approach that ICTC offers.
“I like it a lot better than straight classroom teaching because the three hours I’m there just seems to fly by and it’s like I’m not really in school or a class.”
And Stonebarger backs up what Brody says about the time spent in the shop.
“Brody wears me out,” laughed Stonebarger. “He has no quit and doesn’t even stop for breaks. The whole time he’s there it’s all about welding.”
Rainbolt says his biggest challenge in the welding program has been doing overhead welding because it’s harder to make the weld look good and smooth, but he knows the hard work can ultimately pay off.
“We had a former student talk to us recently and he showed us the $2900 check he had for a week’s work. He’s advanced from hand welding to now operating a machine that does most of the welding.”
When his football days are done at Fort Gibson, Brody says he may look at becoming a different kind of lineman.
“I’ll probably either go straight to a welding job or maybe go to OSU-IT and take their high voltage lineman program.”