Christian Hancock Finds his Chemistry through Welding
In high school, Christian Hancock breezed through his math and sciences effortlessly, and with a 33 out of 36 on the ACT his teachers knew he would make a great engineer.
“’You, young man would be an amazing engineer. You should go into engineering.’ That’s what my teachers told me,” Hancock shared. “Diligence and hard work paid off and I got a scholarship at one of the country’s most prestigious engineering universities and I enrolled in the chemical engineering program.”
But while he loved the chemistry and physics aspect of his schooling, Hancock longed for something more hands-on. “I didn’t want to be trapped behind a desk all day,” he said.
That’s when he found welding.
“I like working with my hands and welding is something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do, but it wasn’t until I changed my mind about engineering that I started to think of welding as something I could actually do for a living instead of just a hobby I could play with sometimes,” Hancock said.
He began to research local technical and community colleges and found OFTC, who offered welding, had a campus minutes from his house.
OFTC was affordable, had the program he was interested in, was close to home and had a friendly and helpful staff. “Nowhere else I looked had that same combination,” he said.
Having previous encounters with a university, Hancock immediately noticed a different atmosphere when he started the enrollment process at OFTC. “Affordability was huge,” he said. “When I went to a university before, financial aid was a nightmare to deal with and there was no way to get through it without incurring some debt. I didn’t want to do that again, so the low cost of OFTC was very attractive to me.”
And the more he learned about OFTC, the more he recognized its benefit in the long run. “I saw that technical college grads were not saddled with enormous student loans and it costs a fraction of that of a university degree. Students attending technical colleges also learn skills that are more immediately practical and receive more hands-on training.”
Hancock started taking welding classes at OFTC’s Jefferson County Center in Louisville and has loved every minute of it.
“My experience at OFTC has been a lot more positive,” he said. “I haven’t had as much stress, I enjoy the classes more, and the faculty and staff have been a lot more helpful since they actually know who I am.”
And learning how to turn his love for chemistry into a hands-on skill which will translate into a successful career has ignited Hancock’s love for welding even more.
“Welding is easy to learn, but difficult to master,” he shared. “I like the practicality of it because it’s not something that’s only useful at work, it’s something I can use whenever I get an idea for a project or want to fix something.”
“What I enjoy most is the satisfaction of spending hours and hours practicing, then being able to finally stand back and look at a perfect weld and think ‘I made that, and I know it won’t break,’” he continued. “That’s a good feeling.”
Hancock is one semester away from completing OFTC’s diploma in welding and joining technology and is excited about the prospects of entering a field where he knows he’ll be able to find work. “The average age of welders in the United States is 55; and the coming wave of retirement will leave many open positions with few new welders to fill them,” he shared.
After graduation, Hancock plans to either continue his learning in a more specialized training or go straight to work as a welder. But one thing’s certain, he shared: “I plan to have a successful career in welding. First working for a company to gain experience, and later turning to self-employed.”