By Austin Plourde / Reprinted from The Columbus Telegram  – Date: March 17, 2018

COLUMBUS, Neb. Students at Columbus High School Friday got a firsthand introduction to what a life working at Behlen Building Systems might look.

Tyler Bertsch, Behlen corporate training manager, spent time with Tracy Dodson’s welding classes at CHS to speak about welding opportunities with Behlen.

Columbus Career Coordinator Heidi Elliott said that Behlen has been a great supporter of its STEM Academy.

She said companies visiting Columbus are always looking for opportunities for students in the form of apprenticeships, internships and part-time work that all could lead to full-time employment.

“Welding is definitely an area where students are getting an interest in,” Elliot.

She said that a lot of companies in Columbus need welders on a consistent basis and wants to ensure the pipeline of new workers is steady. There is a need to have students ready to fill these roles.

Bertsch said in his presentation that Behlen will pay a worker’s college tuition for welding classes in-full if the individual works for Behlen’s for at least two years.

He said that Behlen offers apprenticeships, internships, part-time and full-time opportunities for those looking for employment.

Edwin Ortiz and Dawson Dreifurst, students in Dodson’s welding class, both expressed interest in pursuing welding careers after high school.

Ortiz said he loves how metal can be broken apart and brought back together again with welding.

Dreifurst said he has had an interest in the way things are made since he was a child.

“I always dissembled thing and put them back together and the whole manufacturing has really interested me,” Dreifurst said.

Dreifurst considers himself a decent welder and looks to get better with more experience.

Both students believe that interning with Behlen’s could help them further their skills for future jobs.

Dodson said he tells students their freshmen year as they begin manufacturing classes that they will link academics with industrial training.

He said that manufacturing classes incorporate math, wiring and science into the curriculum.

“We made coping saws and we had plans you had to follow that we wrote ourselves,” Dodson said.

He added that math is involved at every stage of the manufacturing process as well science.

“‘What is this made out of?’ is one of the main questions Dodson ask his students to think about and always has them referring back to the periodic table of elements.

He said that Behlen has a vested interest in the welding program taking place at Columbus High School.

Dodson said Behlen enjoys finding students with potential and explaining to them what the company offers in terms of employment opportunities.

He added one of the things that stuck out to him was Behlen’s motto of, “We’re a family.”

“Someone could just read a brochure about any company in town but when the students hear the info from someone who could be their boss one day it has a lot of meaning,” Dodson said.

Bertsch said welding is a viable career path with potential, especially for the students that have an aptitude for hands on learning.

He said some students are averse to sitting in a traditional setting and listing to lectures and more receptive to hands on experiences.

Bertsch said Behlen previously hired students from Columbus High School, Schuyler Central High School, Twin river High School and Lakeview High School.

He said that Behlen is looking to hire people with a willingness to grow and learn while also being dependable and punctual.