Butte College: A home to welding technology program

22 September 2020

Butte College in Oroville, CA is home to a thriving welding technology program. This curriculum offers vocational courses designed to produce qualified personnel for certified welding jobs. 

The project team behind the Welding and Manufacturing Building developed a “designing for simplified operations” approach to the project, where they created control panels, valves, power sources, control dampers, adjustment controls for equipment, and other aspects that would avoid serious injury or death. Ventilation systems, HVAC controls, welding hood exhausts, and other systems and equipment have been meticulously designed to maintain the highest levels of safety for students and faculty. This attention to detail earned the Butte College Welding and Manufacturing Building the Excellence in Safety prize in Lab Manager’s inaugural Lab Design Excellence Awards program. The Welding and Manufacturing Building was submitted to the Lab Design Excellence Awards by the architect of record, JK Architecture Engineering of Auburn, CA. The size of the facility is 60,283 square feet, and the project cost was USD 20.5M.

The Welding and Manufacturing Building measures 59,525 assigned square feet, with two welding laboratories measuring about 9,242 sq. ft., as well as one 11,525 sq. ft. manufacturing laboratory. The welding and manufacturing labs open up to (and are supported by) an outdoor covered area—a fully equipped 11,525 sq. ft. space with a 1,566 sq. ft. enclosed rod storage and remote welding machine, compressor, and welding bottle storage structure.

The initial design for the welding booths was modeled in 3D, and a full-scale mockup booth was built to test the booth's functionality and performance. The design was edited for months to meet program requirements and address both welding program requirements and OSHA standards. A third-party hygienist conducted tests prior to releasing the fabrication of the 92 booths that were needed. The booths each offer enough space to fit a student and an instructor with an advanced Centralized Filtered Recirculated Air Systems (CFRAS) Miller “Filtair” exhaust system. Custom racking between booths includes specialized control panels, which offers all booths the flexibility to utilize different welding processes as well as several varieties of welding gases and electrodes.

The facility uses mixing stations, which allow for efficient operation and flexibility to make changes as industry demands and needs progress. To provide a safe, healthy, and compliant work environment, the building complied with ANSI Z49.1:2012; continually maintained OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits for students, faculty, and staff. It also met all requirements of Butte County Air Quality Management District.