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In the Hot Seat with Heather Roussere

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In the Hot Seat with Heather Roussere

In the Hot Seat — 10 Questions with Heather Roussere, Arclabs Lead Welding Instructor

Name: Heather Roussere
Title: Lead Welding Instructor, Arclabs Welding School
Location: Houston Campus, Houston, Texas
Years Welding: 16

“Welding can be tough for students to get, so you’ll watch them struggle and struggle, but then you see them get it, and that’s an aha moment. We get to be a part of their individual successes.”
— Heather Roussere, Lead Welding Instructor

1. Welding Experience Snapshot

“I took welding in high school and decided to get an associate degree, which I never completed — I met a rig welder and my career went backwards, but I did the coolest things first. We would repair different things on the oil rigs, making pipe welds, work outages or even welding the floor back together.”

“I hopped around and found my way into a pressure vessel shop, Challenger Process Systems, where I worked up to lead welder. I was there for five years, and I did everything. I got to do all four processes — MIG, Stick, TIG and Flux Cored — every day. That was the best of both worlds. I got paid more and I was also able to be home every night with my kids.”

2. Learning New Skills

“I got really good when I was working at the pressure vessel shop. A TIG welder quit, and they asked me if I could TIG. With welding, once you get the basics, it doesn’t matter what process you’re doing, you understand how it works. Even though I hadn’t done a ton of TIG before, I was fluent in other processes, so I had enough in me to be able to figure it out. They say fake it till you make it. I worked my butt off, and I made it.”

“Today I’m not just a lead instructor, I’m also an AWS Certified Welding Inspector. I was warned that getting a CWI was tough, and it was every bit as hard as they said. However, because of my achievement, we’re able to expand, and we’re talking about getting a mobile welding lab to take to high schools and hold certification days.”

3. On Working Hard

“That’s one of the things about Arclabs. If you bring the energy, the instructors will match it 110%. If there’s not another class coming in after yours, you can keep practicing. It’s not like a puppy mill and we want to turn you out as fast as possible. We believe in doing the right thing. You take care of people the way God thinks you should. We might not get a return on every single person we help, but it’s not going to hurt anything.”

4. Community Outreach

“Our facility is huge – we have 110 welding booths – so we host a lot of competitions. Kids can win scholarships and they can network with one another. We also go out to high schools, and not just our admissions department, but an instructor who can go into their lab and weld with them. If they want, they can visit our school and weld here for a day. We want our students to make the right decision for them.”
“Our campus has also become an Accredited Testing Facility for the American Welding Society. This means we can test people for their certifications like the D1.1 structural code or ASME Section IX boiler code. We’re always trying to move forward.”

5. Why Become a Teacher?

“I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher or a veterinarian growing up. I didn’t know how to act properly when I was young, so that ruled out kindergarten teacher.”

“I came to Arclabs after the campus director ran across my resume. I had worked for three years at another school, and I was so relieved to find an employer who cared about more than making money. We have such strong leadership, and we all work together. Our campus director has a student mindset. He always asks, ‘How can we help these students?’ At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

6. The Teaching Reward

“Welding is a learned skill, but as teachers, we make it look rather easy. Welding can be tough for students to get, so you’ll watch them struggle and struggle, but then you see them get it, and that’s an aha moment. Also, I love it when they come back after they graduate, and they can afford a house and support their family. We get to be a part of their individual successes.”

7. Rewards Beyond the Classroom

“My 18-year-old daughter doesn’t always give me compliments, but one day she said to me, ‘I watch you, and you do anything you want to do. Nothing stops you; you just do it. If you can, I know I can too.’ It was a good moment to not only be a great role model for my daughter, but also to be a role model for other women.”

“As a woman welder, you have to have thicker skin. If you are easily offended or wear your emotions on your sleeve, it will be a harder road. You have to stand up for yourself, because you will be treated the way that you let others treat you. You need to set the tone.”

“As a woman, you’re unique, and I’d like to elevate that status. We’re more passionate. Maybe that’s why I want this to not just be the most successful school in Houston, but in America.”

8. Success and Discipline

“We care about our students, and we’ll do whatever it is that they need because we want them to be employable and well rounded. However, that doesn’t mean that we pass everyone. If you’re going to disrupt class, then we’re going to send you home. I have the freedom to write-up students. I also have the freedom to throw that write-up in the trashcan if I see the student demonstrate discipline.”

9. What Would Surprise your Students?

“I was a wild child. I wasn’t a bad child, just different. I took the welding class starting in 10th grade because I could smoke cigarettes in the smoking lounge.”

“Instructors can see when students are struggling. We talk to them, and they say ‘You wouldn’t understand.’ They’d be surprised. There was a point in my young life where I decided I was not being a good mom. I didn’t want to be trailer trash, and that’s really all I was going to amount to if I didn’t break the cycle and leave a bad situation. I worked my butt off because my kids deserved better, and I can pass that experience on.”

10. Certifications and More

AWS D1.1 7018 and FCAW in all positions, unlimited thickness;
ASME Sec. IX SMAW 6G open root, 6G FCAW, unlimited thickness;
ASME Sec. IX 316L FCAW and more
Here are some codes I’ve had certs up to but not limited to…meaning these are off the top of my head.
ASME B31.1 Power Piping
ASME B31.2 Fuel Gas Piping
ASME B31.3 Process Piping
ASME B31.4 Liquid Transportation of Hydrocarbons, LP Gas, Anhydrous Ammonia, and Alcohol
ASME Section IX
AWS D1.1 Structural
AWS D1.2 Aluminum
AWS D1.3 Sheetmetal
AWS D1.4 Reinforcing Steel
AWS D1.5 Bridge welding
AWS D1.8 Seismic supplement to AWS D1.1
AWS D1.9 Titanium structural
AWS D18.1 Hygienic Stainless Steel

Welding experience on ferrous and non-ferrous alloys are as follows but not limited to….
Carbon Steels A36
Stainless Steels, 200, 300, and 400 series
Duplex 2491
Super Duplex 2596
Chromes Steels P9, P11, and P22
Aluminum 4043, 5356, and 6061
Nickel Alloys Monel, Inconel, and Hastelloy
Low Alloy 20
Titanium HI and Low grade

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