STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Skilled to Work: SWeETY camp offers high school girls glimpse into skilled work

Since it began 14 years ago, more than 360 students have graduated from the program.

Posted: Jun 13, 2019 2:54 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 7:12 PM

On a somewhat cool Tuesday morning in June, sparks flew past welding masks at the welding shop at Calhoun Community College.

While many of those welding that morning were college-age, male students, a section was reserved this week for a group of high school girls.

Statistics on jobs featured in SWeETY program:

  • Electrical Engineering Technician (Electrical Technician)
    • Alabama
      • 2018 employment - 2,330
      • 2018 mean wages - $61,120
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 205
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 466
    • Region 1 (North Alabama)
      • 2018 employment - 1,700
      • 2018 mean wages - $60,000
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 145
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 282
  • Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other (Additive Manufacturing)
    • Alabama
      • 2018 employment - 720
      • 2018 mean wages - $59,380
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 90
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 63
    • Region 1 (North Alabama)
      • 2018 employment - 340
      • 2018 mean wages - $70,358
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 50
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 15
  • Welders, Cutters, Solderers and Brazers (Welders)
    • Alabama
      • 2018 employment - 9,580
      • 2018 mean wages - $41,050
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 1,345
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 727
    • Region 1 (North Alabama)
      • 2018 employment - 3,120
      • 2018 mean wages - $37,294
      • Projected annual ave. openings - 535
      • 2018 total new online job ads* - 140

Source: Alabama Department of Labor, Labor Market Information Division in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Employment and wages are based on the 2018 release of the Occupational Employment Statistics report, employment and wage estimate file. Wage data has been aged using the latest quarterly Employment Cost Index (ECI) factors. Projected Annual Ave Openings provided by the 2016-2026 Occupational Projections, produced by the Labor Market Information Division in cooperation with the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). *Source: Help Wanted OnLine from The Conference Board and WANTED Technologies.

20 students spent four days at Calhoun Community college learning the basics of electrical work, welding and additive manufacturing (or 3D printing). 20 students spent four days at Calhoun Community college learning the basics of electrical work, welding and additive manufacturing (or 3D printing).

The 20 students were there for the Summer Welding and Electrical Technology (SWeETY) camp.

“It's been a lot of fun. I've learned so many things,” said Srishti Garg.

The incoming Austin High School junior started on Tuesday in the electrical part of the camp. She said she’s not planning on a full-time job in the trades, but said she hopes to learn some skills during the SWeETY camp that will help in her planned profession.

“I feel like I wanted to see how welding was, how the electrical part might be, because I want be a computer engineer,” said Garg.

The SWeETY program, done jointly with Calhoun and the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, is now in its 14th year. It’s supported by Go Build Alabama and works with incoming freshmen through seniors.

Gracey Norman, an incoming senior at Elkmont High School, started welding a couple years ago when she was in the SWeETY program. This year, she came back to teach this new class of girls.

“I hope they take away that, no matter if you’re a guy or a girl, you can do whatever you want in life and don’t let someone intimidate you not to do the things that you want to try,” said Norman.

Amberly Fortenberry, Director of Talent Development and Recruitment for the Chamber, said inspiring girls when they’re young is key.

“If we reach them and we put that bug in their ear to say here’s what’s available, then they can go out and they can see the fun stuff that we do and they can have fun doing it,” said Fortenberry.

In order to keep up with industry demand, three years ago, the chamber brought additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to the curriculum.

“I will say that was harder, but I still enjoy it though! It's still fun,” said Townley Hayes, an incoming freshman at St. John Paul Catholic School.

An incoming home-schooled sophomore, Thea Fisk, said her dad taught her some welding and she was eager to try her hand at additive manufacturing.

“It’s the first time I’ve used a program like this. It’s kind of confusing, but I got the hang of it,” said Fisk.

By the end of the camp on Thursday, the girls said they were surprised by how much they enjoyed their time and learned some key lessons.

“I didn’t think I would enjoy the electrical part, but I did, and girls like me should have an opportunity to take part in camps like these,” said Garg.

Huntsville
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Florence
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Fayetteville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 53°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136549

Reported Deaths: 2378
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19833350
Mobile13471292
Montgomery8865184
Tuscaloosa8744118
Madison797878
Shelby604349
Lee594560
Baldwin558850
Marshall396743
Calhoun354844
Etowah354045
Morgan332728
Houston293521
Elmore269148
DeKalb243521
St. Clair234036
Walker233084
Talladega217729
Limestone213520
Cullman191120
Dallas179326
Franklin179029
Autauga178525
Russell17653
Lauderdale174033
Colbert167526
Blount161815
Escambia161424
Chilton159330
Jackson158911
Covington140327
Dale139944
Coffee13656
Pike120510
Chambers117242
Tallapoosa116685
Clarke110416
Marion97129
Butler91439
Barbour8867
Winston74512
Marengo72620
Pickens66814
Randolph66013
Bibb65710
Lowndes65727
Hale64928
Geneva6384
Lawrence62823
Cherokee61413
Bullock60714
Clay5928
Monroe5908
Washington56113
Crenshaw54232
Perry5426
Conecuh53711
Wilcox53211
Henry5085
Macon48318
Fayette4678
Sumter43819
Cleburne3895
Lamar3772
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2389
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31034460
Davidson26685307
Hamilton956495
Knox955080
Rutherford940890
Williamson534136
Sumner488398
Wilson353845
Putnam335541
Montgomery312344
Unassigned30476
Out of TN299727
Bradley296717
Madison294364
Sevier264715
Blount254824
Maury242024
Washington233736
Robertson223135
Sullivan222033
Hamblen194326
Tipton183619
Gibson171323
Trousdale16687
Hardeman158326
Wayne15025
Dyer140314
Bedford137017
Dickson127715
Coffee125513
Cumberland121718
Weakley121219
Fayette120619
Anderson120213
Obion120011
Henderson119124
Loudon11906
Carter117928
Greene116644
McMinn115025
Jefferson113414
Warren10787
Lawrence107713
Macon106821
Monroe105818
Hardin105216
Lauderdale99516
Haywood99221
Franklin98910
Lake9252
McNairy91818
Roane9096
Carroll90520
Bledsoe8624
Rhea85013
White8499
Hawkins82318
Cheatham81910
Marshall7805
Overton7666
Cocke75310
Smith73411
Johnson7292
Chester64610
Giles63717
Henry6289
Lincoln6281
Hickman5998
DeKalb57214
Crockett54419
Marion5388
Decatur5317
Fentress5273
Campbell4564
Claiborne4425
Polk40610
Grainger3863
Union3712
Benton3399
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3126
Cannon2950
Unicoi2881
Humphreys2633
Sequatchie2421
Clay2345
Houston2283
Meigs2283
Stewart2192
Scott2182
Lewis2071
Moore1801
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1073

Community Events