Welding Technologies Instructor Dan Turner has a philosophy he teaches his students at the Marysville campus: “The question is never ‘can we;’ it’s ‘how can we?’”
When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in stay at home orders and no in-person learning last spring, Turner went right into answering the question: How can he provide an environment that ensures the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, and allows his students to continue their education?
“The welding industry never shut down,” Turner said. “We’re a critical infrastructure. Buildings still need to be built. Pipelines still need to go in. There’s a constant need for new people in the workforce and if we’re not there helping to support industry, it hurts even more than we’re already hurt.”
The answer? Keep his learning environment as normal as possible while also taking the necessary safety measures to enable students to finish their degree or certificate, and enter the workforce. Turner, who has taught at Yuba College since 2006, quickly put together a game plan to implement masks, social distancing, and well-ventilated areas; which as luck would have it already describes the nature of welding. With each student at their own individual work area, he ensures a free booth between students for an added buffer. Everything from shop tools to welding guns and light switches is sanitized throughout the day.
Turner split his lab in half to have fewer students present at a time, performs daily health checks, and streams lectures online for students who aren’t comfortable being in-person.
Dr. Pete Villarreal, Dean of Applied Academics, lauded the Welding Technologies instructor for his innovation, creativity, and dedication to his students, especially during such a challenging time and in such a challenging program.
“Yuba College is proud to have professors like Daniel Turner who think outside of the box and are not afraid to leave their comfort zone to engage our students in our Welding Program,” Dr. Villarreal said. “His creativity and adventurous spirit opened the eyes and minds of not only his students but other faculty as well to what may be possible and provided in a digital experience that will carry them through their program at Yuba College and into the future.”
Turner’s forward-thinking extends beyond his lab and the College. He also started a national welding webinar to connect with other instructors to brainstorm how to best teach skills-based education during a pandemic and with an online component.
Thanks to Turner’s can-do attitude, his students acquired not only the necessary skills to enter the workforce, but also the education to eventually advance in their field.
“The value of what we do is we offer the education with the skills,” Turner said. “With some jobs, if you want to move up, you need the degree. You get the skills-based paperwork and the educational paperwork.”
Despite the added challenge brought on by the pandemic, Turner still found a way to deliver on a project to benefit the community; a collaboration between Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture and the Marysville Japanese American Citizens League. Welding Technology students joined Turner to create three steel sculptures—with the silhouettes of the U.S., California, and the Sutter Buttes—at the Arboga Assembly Center Memorial Site and Interpretive Center, in honor of the 2,465 citizens of Japanese ancestry who were interned there in 1942. The memorial was installed late last year and benches are in the works for spring.
Coming up on a year since the pandemic made its way to California, Turner isn’t sitting idle. He understands the challenge for tactile learners to sit in front of a computer and adapt to an online format. He continues to take classes to learn how to enhance his online presence.“It’s a lot of work and my hat is off to all teachers out there,” Turner said. “I can do what I can do.”
“It’s a lot of work and my hat is off to all teachers out there,” Turner said. “I can do what I can do.”