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STC, Army, industry collaborate to turn soldiers into shipbuilders
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Officials from Savannah Technical College, Huntington Ingalls Industries and the U.S. Army celebrated the completion of training for welding students in the first U.S. Army transitioning service member cohort with the college. They are, from left, Tom Allmon, director of human resources, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Stewart and Hunter; Hunter CSM LaVander Wilkerson; STC President Dr. Kathy Love; Robin Decker, talent acquisition with Huntington Ingalls Industries; Fred Howell, talent acquisition with HII; STC welding graduates Sergio Hernandez, Michael Williams, Matthew Amick, Cory Red, Tarin Setrit; retired Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, president Transitions Assistant Support; and STC military outreach coordinator Jeffrey Ashmen. - photo by Photo provided.

Four months after starting welding training with Savannah Technical College, six U.S. Army transitioning service members have job offers with Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagula, Miss., and Newport News, Va.

“Employers value and understand the work ethic that service members bring to the job,” STC military outreach coordinator Jeff Ashmen said. “But quite often separating service members lack the technical skills necessary for employment. Savannah Technical College’s career skills program is an opportunity for active duty service members to get retooled to qualify for jobs after military service.”

The college’s welding training for these students was provided through state and federal grants, along with additional funding from Huntington Ingalls. Students attended welding classes during their normal duty day, Mondays-Thursdays.

Commander approval and pre-employment screening were required for them to participate. Training occurred as part of the Soldier for Life VOW Act and became the soldier’s place of duty.

“The partnership between Fort Stewart, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and Savannah Technical College provides soldiers and families with a wonderful opportunity to prepare for their post active duty careers and begin the next part of their lives,” said Geoff Miller, president of Transitions Assistant Support LLC.

During the 16-week program that included hands-on, competency-based structural and pipe welding instruction, students completed 32 college hours and earned five welding technical certificates of credit: basic shielded metal arc welder, vertical shielded metal arc welder, advanced shielded metal arc welder, flux cored arc welder and gas tungsten arc welder TCCs.

“Huntington Ingalls Industries remains committed to becoming a leadership factory,” said Fred Howell, HII director of talent acquisition. “Through our partnership with Savannah Technical College, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, we are creating great shipbuilders, but more importantly, we are creating future leaders for our organization.”

Transitioning service members who complete welding training have a high probability of employment with Ingalls Shipbuilding, he said. They still will be tested at the end of the training period prior to a job offer, will be offered a job upon completion of the training, and will continue on-the-job training while working with craftsmen at Ingalls.

The average starting salary for pipe welders is $19.50 per hour or $40,500 annually.

For more information about military services or enrollment, visit or contact STC’s Ashmen at 912-443-4155 or

Eligible students may qualify for additional stipends, under provisions established under the post 9/11 GI Bill. Consult with a VA representative or visit for information.

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