Six male students housed at the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) State Transitional Reentry Center were honored with a virtual graduation ceremony on August 10, 2020, as members of Cohort 1 of GPTC’s Fast Track Welding Program. The program is designed to provide valuable welding skills for students that will allow them to gain meaningful employment upon release and to provide a new pipeline of highly skilled professionals for the welding industry.

Areas of focus during the training, which began June 15 with GPTC instructors utilizing the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) Mobile Welding Lab, included Introduction to Welding, Basic and Advanced Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Gas Metal Arc Welding. Students completing the program are eligible to sit for the AWS Welding Certification Test in Shielded Metal Arc and Flux-Cored Metal Arc Welding.

GPTC’s partners who helped make the vision for the program a reality and attended the virtual ceremony were Karen Kirchler from the TCSG, Rob Davis of WorkSource DeKalb, and Warden Steven Perkins, Heather Corbett and Brenda Williams, all with the GDC. Chris Edwards of Hanson Aggregates gave the keynote address to motivate the graduates to press forward in their new welding careers upon their release. Six female students from the GDC Transitional Reentry Center will also complete the program this fall and will be eligible to test for certification.

For more information regarding the Fast Track Welding Program and our training partnership with the Georgia Department of Corrections, contact Dr. Irvin Clark, vice president of economic development, at