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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Welding Alum Finds his Niche in the Aerospace Industry
Photo:Group of Hartzell Employees and SPC AlumsHartzell Employees and SPC Alums with instructor Riley Pease​ [far left] and CTE Dean VA Barber [far right]

Braden Shelton wanted to work in a field where he could do something with his hands and see the results of his work. When he found out that the average age of a welder in the US was 63, he thought this would be a great career path. After studying business at a different college for two semesters, Braden transferred to the Saint Paul College welding program and hasn’t looked back, as he now works in the dynamic aerospace industry at Hartzell Aviation in nearby Eagan.

photo of Braden SheltonBraden Shelton

“My learning experience at Saint Paul College was lots of fun and so welcoming that I was eager to attend class every day,” says Braden. He added that “instructors are authentic and provide a relaxed classroom atmosphere with outstanding teaching that effectively prepared me to launch my career properly.” His education focused on Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG welding), where Braden learned to work with stainless steel and aluminum. At Hartzell Aviation, he works with about 40-50 other welders to make exhaust gaskets, manifolds, headers, and stacks for both private and commercial airplane parts for propeller-based planes.

Photo of equipment after weldingHartzell Aviation brings industry-leading general aviation manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers together to enhance the freedom of flight and power the future of aviation. It has a history dating back to the Wright Brothers and the start of general aviation. As a company committed to delivering uncompromising quality, performance, and support, it has earned a place as a trusted name in aviation.

About one-quarter of the welders at the company received their welding education at Saint PaulPhoto of Braden Shelton and instructor Riley Pease College. Welding Instructor Todd Hankle recently toured the facility to look at bending, press-brake, repairs, OEM, and MRO operations, in addition to meeting with some of the Saint Paul College alum. Though welders commonly work with cars or bridges, Instructor Hankle has found that many of his students thoroughly enjoy working in the aerospace industry. He is grateful for their partnership with this local aerospace company. “Welders in the aerospace industry must be very precise in their craft as safety and attention to detail is critical at every step of the manufacturing process, and our students want that challenge,” said Instructor Hankle.

Braden still attends Saint Paul College for engineering, as paid for by his generous employer. He thoroughly enjoys returning to campus and sharing his experiences with fellow students.

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