Over the next several years, states and local agencies will be receiving funds under the new infrastructure law passed by congress.  As a result, we as a nation have a once in a lifetime opportunity to repair and build back better our nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure by doing it right the first time, and thereby avoid infrastructure welding mistakes that cause welding defects, repairs and failures.  In other words, we have the opportunity to design and build in welding quality.

Let’s not repeat the past and waste this infrastructure welding and building opportunity, by turning it into another business-as-usual government waste of taxpayer dollars.  State infrastructure coordinators and local agencies receiving funds can prevent past practices and share in the success of infrastructure projects by better control over how the dollars are being spent.  Such as using oversight to ensure the inclusion of requirements in contract documents that all firms performing welding, or designing weldments be supported by a welding engineer who has a welding engineering degree.  Otherwise, it’s business as usual where some firms promote their best welder or welding supervisor and give them the title of welding engineer.  And design firms designing weldments, without the support of a welding engineer.  Stop this nonsense that leads to welding defects, repairs and failure during infrastructure welding activities by getting welding professionals who have welding engineering degrees involved in making welding decisions to prevent welding problems. 

It’s a mistake to think other engineering disciplines are qualified to do what welding engineers do.  There has always been a lack of welding knowledge in industry, including on past infrastructure projects, because the science and technology of welding are not generally taught at the four-year university or college level to engineering students, except to those in a welding engineering degree program.  And therefore, this lack of welding knowledge shows up in industry and on infrastructure projects as welding mistakes that cause welding defects, repairs and failures when the engineering students become engineers and are hired and expected to establish and specify welding design, and fabrication requirements for industrial and infrastructure projects.

Every time I hear on the evening news that some infrastructure project has welding defects that must be repaired, or has failed, the first thing that comes to mind is that there was no welding engineer supporting the project.  And in most cases that assumption is correct, because most companies that design or fabricate infrastructure weldments typically have no one on their staff with a welding engineering degree to properly establish and specify infrastructure welding requirements.  This limits their ability to answer technical welding questions, prevent and solve welding problems, and interpret and apply the welding and fabrication requirements in applicable infrastructure welding codes, standards and specifications, which can be especially challenging to the layman user or specifier.  Welding design and fabrication questions and problems can come up when least expected.  Support by a welding engineer who has the correct answers and solutions can prevent welding mistakes. One welding mistake can cost millions.

It seems that infrastructure welding gets no respect unless there is a weld defect, repair or failure, or lives are lost, and property is damaged.  Then everybody becomes interested.  Let’s get it right the first time and stay out of the evening news, unless it’s for the right reasons.