GOCAT 2020 News Stories

Technology Showcase set for Aug. 4 at GOCAT

The free, drop-in event is set for 4 to 6 p.m.

Today’s manufacturing industries need highly skilled workers. Area residents can learn how to develop those skills to increase their employability at Missouri State University-West Plains’ (MSU-WP) Technology Showcase.

The free, drop-in event is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT), 395 Jackie D. Garrett Ave., in West Plains.

Those attending can tour the facility and see the state-of-the-art equipment used to train students and view demonstrations of the pieces in action, organizers said. Visitors also can speak with instructors, meet with area employers, and find out how the skills embedded in MSU-WP’s technology programs offered at the GOCAT are needed by area industries, many of which are currently hiring.

“The MSU-WP training programs at the GOCAT facility have been developed hand-in-hand with local manufacturers,” said MSU-WP Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster. “Our primary goal in developing the programs has been to benefit both students and our area industries.

“And, with some of our manufacturers needing new workers with these skill sets now and some who may need their current workers to increase their skills in specific areas, this is an ideal opportunity to learn how to be ready to meet these challenging demands on the plant floor,” he added.

Programs provide hands-on training

Sheila Barton, director of workforce development programs for MSU-WP, said the university’s technology programs provide hands-on technical training needed within the manufacturing industry.

“As a National Coalition of Certification Center (NC3), each program includes certifications in electricity, hydraulics/pneumatics, mechanical systems, PLCs and robotics,” she explained. “And, as a Lincoln Electric Educational Program (LEEPS) partner, we are very proud to offer a new program this fall in advanced welding and fabrication.”

Students, she said, will earn certifications in FCAW, SMAW, GMAW and GTAW welding types, thermal cutting, blue print reading, safety. American Welding Society (AWS) certifications also will be offered, she added.

“Our programs over the past several years have been successful, and we are continuing to upgrade and provide what our industry partners ask,” Barton said. “Today’s industrial environment is increasingly dependent on technology-focused and technology-enabled manufacturing. To put it simply, this isn’t the assembly line work of the past; this is cutting edge stuff, and it’s exciting stuff, too!”

Enrollment, financial aid information also offered

Attendees can learn how to enroll in the programs and apply for various financial aid packages from MSU-WP representatives who will be on hand at the event. Completion of any of MSU-WP’s technology programs, Barton said, can put students on a career pathway to success.

“Every individual’s goals and needs are different. While you may not be eligible for financial assistance from one source, you might be eligible from another one. And, while you might not be interested in ‘Career Path A,’ you might find ‘Career Path Z’ is a great option, and you can start down that path at MSU-WP,” Barton said.

Refreshments will be served at the showcase, she added.

For more information about MSU-WP and the programs available at the GOCAT, visit GOCAT.WP.MissouriState.edu or contact the admissions office at 417-255-7955, toll free at 888-466-7897 or email WPAdmissions@MissouriState.edu.

Equipment purchased for advanced welding, fabrication technology program

Funds for the equipment came from a Delta Regional Authority grant.


Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) have purchased multiple pieces of equipment integral to the university’s new advanced welding and fabrication technology program.

Nine major pieces were purchased with the funds from a Delta Regional Authority rural workforce grant awarded in October 2020. Grant funds also were used to buy smaller pieces of equipment for further development of the new welding and fabrication lab.

According to Chuck Cook, welding and fabrication instructor, the pieces are state-of-the-art and will prepare students for real-life work environments.

Equipment specifics

Items purchased include:

  • Lincoln Electric Welder: Multi-process Power Wave 300C Advanced Education One-Pak welder
    • A welding unit for classroom training
  • Lincoln Electric Extractor Fume: Statiflex 200-M with Merv 14 Filter Dual Arm Welding
    • These units are part of a welding package and attach to welding units to extract fumes from the building
  • Cyclone 4826 Top Opening Sandblast Cabinet with dust extractor
    • This machine forcibly propels a stream of abrasive material against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, roughen a smooth surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants
    • A pressurized fluid, typically compressed air, or a centrifugal wheel is used to propel the blasting material
  • Piranha Iron Worker and Baileigh Hydraulic Metal Shear
    • These machines will shear metal for tooling and fabrication.
  • GMC 45 Ton CNC Hydraulic Press Brake
    • This machine is used for forming and cutting metal for fabrication
  • Track Torch
    • This torch is for cutting and welding high quality cuts
    • It works on a track and cuts metal as it travels based on programming
  • 50 Ton Dual Speed Hydraulic Shop Press
    • This press is used for fabricating pieces
  • Lincoln Plasma Table, 4×10
    • This is used for design and fabrication cutting of sheet metal

Input from valuable partners

“Our local employers have been valuable partners during the purchasing process and recommended equipment that will be used in the manufacturing setting,” said Director of Workforce Development Sheila Barton.

“Their input is important because the program will provide the hands-on training experience needed to meet a critical workforce shortage in the manufacturing industry in south-central Missouri,” she added.

The advanced welding and fabrication program will debut in the 2021 fall semester and will temporarily be housed at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT). The welding lab will find a permanent home on campus at Broadway Hall, the one-time home of West Plains’ Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant, once renovations are completed.

For more information about the advanced welding and fabrication technology program or to enroll, contact Barton at 417-255-7784 or sheilabarton@missouristate.edu.

Missouri State University-West Plains
Office of Workforce Development
Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology

Welcome to the Summer Edition of GOCAT News

It is hard to believe the school year has ended and we are into June and the upcoming summer season. Summer classes begin next week and with all of the activity here at the GOCAT facility, the summer is going to fly by.

We are pleased to welcome Chuck Cook as our newest team member at GOCAT. Chuck is our new welding instructor and comes to us with over 30 years of industry experience and a great addition to the team and we look forward to you meeting him soon.

Grants update

The Delta Regional Authority, Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC)2020 awarded MSU-WP a $960,000 workforce grant for the development of an advanced welding and fabrication program. We have been working non-stop since February to get the temporary weld lab at the GOCAT facility completed to begin classes this Fall. We are nearly done and looking forward to showing all of you soon. Watch our Facebook page for updates.

Program (SEDAP) grant, that along with other state appropriations and private monies will be used for renovation of the Broadway building on campus that will house our new welding and fabrication lab. This will be a great addition to the campus and will give us the much-needed space to expand our technical programs.

Finally, in collaboration with the South Central Workforce Investment Board, a grant application has been submitted for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant to help expand career pathways for women to enter and lead in manufacturing industries. Notification will be by Sept. 30.

Chancellor's message

An update for the upcoming academic year.

Access the Facebook post

Final thoughts

Save the date for our next industry partner meeting, scheduled for July 20, 2021 beginning at 10:30 am. Join us for lunch and tour our new welding lab. Dr. Mardy Leathers, Executive Director of the Missouri Workforce Development Board will be our guest speaker. More information soon.

MSU-WP putting pieces in place for new advanced fabrication/welding technology program

The program is expected to debut in the 2021 fall semester.


Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) are moving quickly to create the advanced fabrication and welding technology program for the 2021 fall semester. This includes hiring new personnel, upgrading manufacturing and maintenance programs and finding a location for the welding lab.

“We believe these changes will help us diversify and develop more industry and skills-based training opportunities,” said Director of Workforce Development Sheila Barton. “It will also be a resource for our employers who need additional assistance for training both new and incumbent employees.”

ROY CROUCH, education and employment outreach specialist at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP), demonstrates the VRTEX 360 virtual reality (VR) welding training simulator. This new piece of equipment will give students the ability to practice various welding methods in a realistic setting as displayed in the VR goggles he is wearing. Students can simulate specific welds, techniques and processes while the system tracks their progress, helping them learn when to adjust their techniques and be more prepared when they use actual welders. (MSU-WP Photo)

Upcoming changes

Garland Barton has been hired as the fund research and employer engagement manager. Garland Barton has worked with MSU-WP since the inception of the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) facility. He served as chair of the South Central Workforce Investment Board for more than 20 years, and is currently serving as a member of the Missouri Workforce Development Board.

As the employer engagement manager, Garland Barton will report to Interim Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Orf and will support area employers. His primary duties will be consulting on their training needs, developing registered apprenticeship opportunities, re-establishing the area’s employer consortium to unite the efforts of multiple employers, and reaching out to funding sources for financial assistance with training costs.

Roy Crouch, education and employment outreach specialist, will concentrate his efforts on recruiting both high school and adult students for training programs. Crouch also recently completed Lincoln Electric welding certifications through NC3 and will act as a part-time welding lab assistant, working with Larry Noller, technology program specialist.

University officials are actively looking to hire a new full-time fabrication/welding instructor.

The welding lab is currently at the GOCAT facility, but plans are underway to renovate the Broadway Building on the MSU-WP campus proper and permanently locate the lab there.

“We want to begin transitioning our workforce efforts to be more than just the training of our students, but a support system to our employers for their workforce needs,” Sheila Barton said. “Our students need to see their education and training as an entry into the workforce, giving them the tools they need to be successful and competitive in the workplace.”

Program details

The advanced fabrication/welding technology program will prepare students for careers in the manufacturing field by focusing on such skills as structural design and fabrication, automated systems and robotic arc welding.

The program can be completed as a stand-alone, 25-credit-hour certificate program in two semesters or as an option of the Associate of Applied Science in Technology degree in two years.

The program also will include the MRW Work Ethic Certification Program developed through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and WSU Tech. This program will ensure that the next generation of skilled workers have the employability skills to be successful in their jobs long term.

“We are very excited to include this training within our manufacturing technology programs,” Sheila Barton said. As an NC3 Leadership Center, the university can administer the MRW Work Ethic Certification through NC3. Students who complete the program will receive an industry recognized certificate.

For more information about the advanced fabrication/welding technology program or to enroll, contact Sheila Barton at 417-255-7784 or sheilabarton@missouristate.edu.