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Workforce Wednesday: Travis Sutter taps One Workforce for West Michigan Manufacturing grant for new skills, new career

May 3, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Travis Sutter was bouncing job to job trying to find a spot somewhere that he felt comfortable. While he had spent most of his life fixing cars, he felt he needed a change.

And then, he collapsed at his job in a warehouse this past July, was diagnosed with a weak heart valve, and found himself further re-evaluating his work life. 

Sutter was working for Uber when he heard about the Welding Technician Job Training program and stopped into the Grand Rapids Community College Leslie E. Tassell MTEC building to see what it was all about.

 “I talked to Rachael (Jungblut) in the office and just told her straight up, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how to work computers. I need help,’” Sutter said. “She walked me through everything!”

The Job Training Welding program meets for 18 weeks, Monday through Thursday, for 34 hours per week and offers career coaching and job placement assistance. Sutter got emotional as he talked about all the encouragement he received from the MTEC staff.

“Michael (Wemmer) was such a support system for me all the way through my program,” Sutter said. “I could be having a bad day and talk to him for 10 minutes and it would totally flip my mood. He has such a positive energy. It was great.”

In addition to the support Sutter received from career coaches, job developers and staff, he also qualified for the One Workforce for West Michigan Manufacturing grant. He was provided a new welding tool set and GRCC welding jacket.

“I am so proud to represent GRCC at work,” Sutter said.

The job training welding program is led by GRCC’s Instructor Nate Haney. Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator.

“Nate was great and since he is a former inspector, I told him that I only want him to approve my welds if they would pass inspection in the real world,” Sutter said. “He took the time to really challenge me and that built my confidence.”

As a student, you learn: shielded metal arc welding (arc/stick welding), gas metal arc welding (metal inert gas/wire welding), gas tungsten arc welding (heli-arc/tungsten inert gas welding), oxy-fuel welding (gas welding), cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

Sutter appreciated that the class was made up of students of all ages and backgrounds.

“I was nervous coming back to school and didn’t want to be the only ‘older’ student and I wasn’t,” Sutter said. “It was cool having other classmates help me through it.”

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. When you graduate, you will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter, or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well. Sutter is currently working as a welder at Kent Design & Manufacturing.

“It was quite a journey,” Sutter said. “I was working full time and going through the program. It was tough but so worth it!”

The next section of Job Training programs begins, June 12, 2023. For more information: or 616-234-3800. To see if you qualify for the One Workforce grant, go to and submit an inquiry form.

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