When Dalton Keeling chose a workforce skill to study at the Marshall County Area Technology Center, he was drawn toward welding, rather than electrical work, carpentry or anything else that was offered. He doesn't know why he chose welding, but it seemed to be interesting.
Now in his second year of welding study, the Marshall County High School senior hopes to make it his career as he learns more about the different welding techniques and tricks of the trade.
"Part of what I enjoy about it is all the different types of welding, like stick welding (using an electrode), TIG welding (using a tungsten inert gas electrode) and MIG welding (metal inert gas, using a spool gun)," he said. "There's also all the different things you can do with them and all the different projects we get to do."
Keeling's instructor, Steve Freeman, said his welding class just finished working on trailers and has also worked on dumpsters for the Marshall County Refuse Department.
"Dalton is an extremely good student; he's very helpful," Freeman said. "He comes in here and he helps with the younger kids."
Keeling said he plans on going to West Kentucky Community and Technical College and earn a degree related to working in welding. Freeman said there are several fields that use welders, including iron fitting, metal shop work and construction.
He has completed 2F certification (horizontal fillet welding), is about to start on his D1 plate test and has been working on his American Society of Mechanical Engineers Section 9 testing.
Keeling is a right guard and defensive tackle on the Marshall County High School football team and works at the Draffenville Food Giant. He hopes to get a cooperative job to bolster his workskills when football season is over.
As much as Keeling enjoys classroom work, he also enjoys helping others learn.
"I like helping the kids," he said. "I like helping the freshman class figure out what to do and how to do it. I kind of like to teach them and help them out when Mr. Freeman is busy."
Keeling is the son of Justin Keeling and Misty Riley of Benton.
A story featuring the AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Student of the Week will run in The Paducah Sun each Friday through March 27 with recipients chosen by instructors and administrators at the seven area technical centers that serve students in the state's 13 westernmost counties.
In addition to the Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center, this year's 29 AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Students of the Week are chosen from the Ballard County Career and Technical Center, Caldwell County Regional Career Center, Four Rivers Career Academy in Fulton County, Marshall County Technical Center, Murray-Calloway County Area Technology Center and the Paducah Area Technical Center.
At the area technical centers, students are learning skills in areas such as carpentry, welding, machine tool, industrial maintenance, automotive technology and electrical work that will help them join the workforce upon graduation and help fill the need for skilled workers in the area.
A banquet will be held in April to honor the Technical Center Students of the Week and to name technical center and overall Students of the Year.