Students at Bryant High School in Irvington now have access to the most updated welding equipment to prepare them for jobs in the local shipbuilding industry, thanks to a partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding.
Ingalls contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to create Bryant’s new Talent Development Lab, which features 21 welding stations, safety equipment and training modules. Students will train on the equipment as they work to earn nationally recognized industry certification.
“We say that at Ingalls we build the finest ships the world has ever known. And you know, that’s true,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Starting today,” he added, “Alma Bryant will build the finest shipbuilders the world has ever known.”
About 100 supporters of Mobile County Public Schools gathered in the lab for its official unveiling. Ingalls, located 23 miles from Bryant in Pascagoula, Miss., employees 11,000 people in a shipyard that covers more than 800 acres. Ingalls shipbuilders are currently working on 13 different types of ships in four classes.
Mobile County Public Schools Superintendent Chresal Threadgill said that with this new equipment, Bryant students will have an edge as Ingalls hires new welders as shipbuilders.
“This partnership is wonderful for our students and for the community,” Threadgill said. “It is a wonderful venture and I am excited about it.”
Bryant has hosted a welding program for several years, and will now be able to improve its instruction with the more modern equipment.
Eighty-six students are currently enrolled in welding classes at Bryant, which are taught by George Crenshaw. Students may take up to four semester’s worth of welding courses while at Bryant. Some of the more advanced students are eligible to take a fifth class as their senior project.
“To bring something like this to fruition is just absolutely fantastic,” said Mobile County Board of School Commissioners President Dr. Bill Foster. “It’s fantastic for our community and for our young men and young women who will have opportunities that people and my age and much younger never had. This is truly a win-win situation for both Bryant High School and Ingalls.”
Through this partnership, Ingalls employees will also mentor students on life skills while teaching them to weld, use machinery and other shipyard crafts. George Jones, vice president of operations at Ingalls, noted during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that career-technical education programs such as this are invaluable in preparing graduates for today’s challenging workforce.
“Over the course of 80 years, many Alabama citizens have found their purpose at Ingalls Shipbuilding, and they were able to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Jones said. “Ingalls shipbuilders every day drive across the state line and live in your communities. They’re real excited about what we are doing in this school and for our young men and women to have these opportunities.”
Those attending the ceremony included state Sen. Bill Hightower, Sen. Vivian Figures, Rep. David Sessions and Rep. Margie Wilcox. Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Bradley Byrne were also there.
Ingalls has also invested in welding labs at Moss Point High School and Pascagoula High School, both in Mississippi.
Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company. For more than a century, HII’s shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. Naval shipbuilder.