War2In, the innovative training program that certifies veterans and others in the lucrative field of non-destructive testing (NDT), is graduating from the Moonshot at NACET program this year and relocating to a facility in Bellemont.
War2In – the name is a shortening of “Warrior To Inspector” – was the first Moonshot client to occupy the accelerator at NACET when it opened in October 2015.
“In about three years, we outgrew our space in the accelerator,” said Kenny Greene, War2In’s founder and one of its two instructors. “It’s perfect evidence of how well NACET is working; it’s a good program and a good process.”
Greene’s company teaches students, primarily veterans transitioning into civilian life, the basics of NDT, which uses numerous techniques to evaluate the properties of materials and components without damaging what is being tested. NDT methods have applications that range from making sure a ski resort chairlift is safe to estimating how much pressure a pipeline can withstand. The most common NDT jobs are in the energy sector, with technicians testing pipeline integrity.
“We are so proud of War2In and what they’ve accomplished in the past three years,” said Scott Hathcock, president and CEO of Moonshot at NACET. “Kenny’s company is taking the next step to provide the responsible, skilled employees this sector needs and bringing added economic vitality to our region.”
In 2,500 hours of training over three semesters, War2In teaches its full-time students the intricacies of magnetic particle, ultrasonic, phased-array and liquid penetrant testing and welding inspection. However, unlike many other NDT schools, War2In also includes as part of its curriculum the more than 1,000 hours of on-the-job training that is required to become certified in these techniques.
This on-the-job training takes place at job sites or War2In’s outdoor campus site that the City of Flagstaff leases to the school. The City Council agreement to lease the lot and the help Greene received from the Moonshot program were crucial for War2In’s success, he said.
“This would have been a pipe dream that would have been snuffed out if we hadn’t found the space or the facility to grow,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened without support from NACET and the City of Flagstaff.”
The school’s new 6,000-square-foot Bellemont facility will quadruple the indoor space War2In currently has at the accelerator and comes with a one-acre lot for outdoor training. It is across the street from Schuff Steel, where many of the War2In’s students do on-site training as well.
The additional space at the new location will help accommodate the increase in students Greene is anticipating.
In the past year, the enrollment at the school has increased from eight students to 17. Each pays $10,000 per semester. Once students are fully trained and certified, however, annual salaries in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon.
Much of the tuition is paid for through scholarships or by companies needing NDT technicians who finance the education as part of employment agreements. Nine of War2In’s current students have already been guaranteed jobs after completing the program.
The school is also in the final stages of a review by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine if veterans can access GI Bill benefits to pay for the program.
“That’s going to be a game-changer for veterans,” said Greene. “These are full-time students who have expenses beyond their tuition. Being part of GI Bill benefits means they would get stipends for housing and meals.”
As the program has grown, it has also become more diverse. Originally started to connect veterans to jobs, about 25 percent of its students now are civilians. The school will also be welcoming its first female student next year.
War2In’s spring semester will begin at the new Bellemont facility on Monday, Jan. 14. FBN
By Cindy May, FBN