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Instructor Andy Zinn says students are coming out of the woodwork, anxious to work with their hands and learn a skill. That skill is welding.

Zinn teaches vocational welding at Davenport West High School. There are almost forty upper classmen at the vocational level. They program machinery, do design work, weld, and receive college credits when they successfully complete the program.

The program is so well respected that students are doing work for a local company. Later this month, several students will take part in a state  competition where they will be put to the test. Their work will be judged in a number of areas. West has won that competition several times since Zinn has been the instructor.

Nationwide, there is a shortage of welders. Zinn says some companies did not prepare for the baby boomer generation retirements. Some of his students hope to fill the void and someday become professional welders.  

The program at West High has about a ninety two percent graduation rate. Andy Zinn went through the program when he was a student at West, and then he attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

By the time many students complete the program, they will have anywhere from 600-900 hours of welding experience.