To get into the spirit of Colleges week, education reporter, Nick Summers went to Lewisham College to have a go at welding

Welding and journalism are two professions that couldn’t possibly be more different. While one involves typing frantically on a laptop and wearing a shirt and tie, the other involves using industrial machinery, grubby overalls and working halfway up the side of steel bridges.

So it should come as no surprise that I was incredibly nervous about trying welding for the first time. Steve Granville, a welding instructor at Lewisham College, was kind enough to put me through the basics and explain how all of the protective gear would save me from instant death. Fireproof overalls, reinforced leather gloves, skull cap and goggles; you name it, I was wearing it.

Steve then showed me a piece of metal that was sharp enough to cut skin with a single stroke. It was my job to smoothen the edges using the machinery, a task that would be simple were it not for the hundreds of sparks flying towards my face. Nevertheless I had a go and I must admit, it was hugely enjoyable to work with the equipment and produce a few fireworks (not literally) in the classroom.

My efforts earned me a lesson on metal arc welding. This is when the afternoon got really dangerous. After being given yet more protective head gear (this time with a high-tech electric visor) I was allowed to use a high-powered blow torch to weld two pieces of metal together. The light emitted would damage the human eye and meant that I was unable to see most of my welding. The bottom of the page shows what I produced – no doubt I could do with some more practice!

Colleges Week is a great chance for students to try some of the courses that FE colleges offer. Lewisham College gave me a valuable insight into welding and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity. Think I’ll stick to the journalism though…

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