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It’s midnight and these students are welding

It’s midnight and Carson Pierce is early for class at Tidewater Community College.

Maritime Shielded Metal Arc Groove Welding (WEL 171) begins at 12:30 a.m. and concludes two hours later. At a time when most have ended or are ending their days, the students in Jimmy Bellmore’s class gear up for hands-on instruction they hope will pay off in terms of employment.

“I saw the flyer for midnight welding and went for it,” said Pierce, who works a full-time daytime job pouring concrete. “The time is actually ideal for me. It allows me to get the things done during the day that I need to get done.”

TCC began offering “midnight welding” for the first time this spring and plans to continue summer and fall sessions. Bellmore works the 3 p.m. to midnight shift at Newport News Shipbuilding prior to making the traffic-free drive to the Portsmouth Campus in time for class, which meets four nights, actually “mornings,” per week. No prior welding experience is necessary.

Instructor Jimmy Bellmore
Jimmy Bellmore teaches welding four nights
a week after leaving his job at Newport News

“We teach you how to weld on anything that’s metal,” Bellmore said.

Bellmore said the discipline and self investment the students show by completing the course is attractive to employers. “It shows the drive they have and what they’re willing to do to get a job,” he said.

In addition to working other jobs, some students say they welcome the offbeat hours, as they share one car with their spouse or share childcare responsibilities during the day.

“It’s easier this way,” said Jacob Love, whose wife, Shana, takes early childhood education classes at the Norfolk Campus. “Due to our schedule, this is so convenient.”

Fatigue isn’t a factor for the students, who get by with occasional boosts of caffeine and a classroom that stresses laboratory over lecture.

Security guards are available to walk students to their cars if necessary, and the building remains locked while class is in session.

“This is a great class to learn and it’s good for my resume,” said student Tremaine Taylor. “I’ve got my eye on a main goal, and I’m going to get it.”

Added Pierce, “I always thought welding was fascinating, but I’ve never thought I would do it. I’ve already signed up for my next class.”