The inaugural class of students have begun welding at the Grand River Welding Institute in Brookfield.

Class started March 19 for three students. They will continue with the program until Aug. 3.

Eric Adams, instructor and operator of the Grand River Welding Institute, has officially started teaching the inaugural class of students. The three-person class consists of two people who have never welded before and one more who welded in high school as a part of a vocational technical program. The class has completed four weeks of the 20-week program. The class is set to complete four phases during the program. The first phase will be completed after this week.

The small class size means Adams can work directly with the students. According to student Austin Dale, Adams’ teaching style has helped him learn.

“There’s a lot of hands on and one-on-one work,” Dale said. “It’s a good atmosphere and that makes a big difference.”

For Adams, it has taken over four years of working 12 hours a day welding, then spending an extra four hours a night to open the institute. Adams completed all of the paperwork, curriculum and certifications by himself to open the institute this year. The institute took another three months to construct.

According to Adams, he had worked many years as a welder, but wanted to give back.

“I had a fire in me to do something better,” Adams said. “I get to teach these guys, which is good for them and for the community.”

Since the institute opened, Adams is now focused on providing these soon-to-be welders with knowledge and training for their future.

“We train procedures to make sure the students can use the knowledge on a job,” Adams said.

The Grand River Welding Institute provides the basic training needed to be a certified welder. When the course is completed, the students will leave with four certifications and ready to work on a job site. Adams also offers stainless steel welding as a part of the curriculum, something students will not find at many other welding institutions.

“My specialty is stainless steel,” Adams said. “We’re the only institute in Missouri to teach stainless steel pipe (welding).”

Adams and the students start the morning off with one hour of lecture and book learning, then move to the welding shop. The students practice for seven hours each day in the shop. There they practice types of welds on many different materials.

The next closest welding school is almost two hours away, in Columbia, Mo. Many potential welders attend the Missouri Welding Institute in Nevada, Mo., which is more than three hours away.

Christian Finck attends Grand River and is originally from Meadville. For Finck, the distance made a difference when deciding on an institute.

“I was saving up for welding school when my truck engine blew up,” Finck said. “I was going to attend the Missouri Welding Institute, then this opened up.”

Enrollment has already begun for the next two sessions. The next session will begin June 4, then another sessions will begin Aug. 6. Adams will have two sessions running at the same time. The current class will start coming in the afternoon when the June class begins welding. Adams hopes to add a night school option for those who work during the day. According to Adams, this teaches what it is like to work in the field.

So far, 11 students have signed up for the June program. Adams is running promotions throughout the rest of this year for those interested. There are currently discounts for veterans, honor-roll students and a buddy system for students that sign up together. To enroll students must 18 years old, or 17 years old with a parent’s consent, or a high school diploma.