Jun 17, 2012

Boy Scouts explore welding as well as the wilderness.

While pundits moan about the lack of a young, interested, and trained workforce for today’s high-skilled manufacturing jobs, the Boy Scouts have teamed up with organizations like the American Welding Society to change that. In addition to badges for wilderness survival and wood carving, Scouts can now earn badges for welding, nuclear science, composite materials, engineering, and robotics.

In a February press release, David Landon, vice president, American Welding Society, said, “By the end of the decade, it is estimated there will be a critical need for over 200,000 new and replacement welders in the United States. The future of the welding industry depends upon preparing the next generation and that’s why AWS is really excited to work with the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts of America possess the leadership and values necessary to advance the productivity of the welding industry.” 

The Boy Scouts of America have had help from schools, companies, and government organizations. Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, iRobot Corporation, LEGO® Education North America, Museum of Science, Boston, NASA were all involved in the development of the Robotics badge, and similar resources were recruited for the other badges. Each one has a menu of requirements.

Boy Scouts introduce
welding merit badge

What does the Scout have to do to earn the Welding merit badge?


Understand safety hazards and what to do about them. Be able to explain terminology like electrode and oxidation. Be able to describe the welding process in terms of equipment, materials, and some metallurgy. Know what the various types of welding are, and describe two of them, including advantages and limitations.

Set up for welding, with all the equipment, materials, and settings made ready. Under the watchful eye of the counselor, after scribing your initials in a metal plate, weld a bead on the pattern. Cover a 3" x 3" x ¼" with weld beads, tack plates with a square groove butt joint, then weld them, do the same with a T joint and fillet weld, tack and weld a lap joint.

Scout out the manufacturing landscape. Find out what career opportunities there are and what education and experience are needed, then discuss them with your counselor. Learn how the American Welding Society fits into the welding profession.


More new merit badges

The Drafting badge is mainly focused on CAD and includes an optional requirement (is there such a thing?) to visit a drafting facility, see the drawings, find out about what software they use, and understand the drawing process fits into the process of producing the company’s end products.

I also like the Truck transportation merit badge. Its scope is the whole supply chain, including mapping the international flow of goods, understanding types of trucks, visiting truck terminals and talking to drivers, learning about safety and maintenance issues, and government agencies in the whole system. The Scout gets to know how a trucking company is organized and what jobs are found there, and how to prepare and dispatch a shipment meeting specific time requirements. The skills explored range from the drivers to the dispatchers to the supply chain managers.

Composite materials
merit badge

What I like

  1. The learn/practice/explore pattern for earning each badge.  
  2. The role of the counselor to coach and evaluate the Scout.
  3. How the requirements reveal the skilled trades, engineering, and scientific facets of each process or field.
  4. Whatever career path the Scout envisions following, he will have an understanding of the other facets of his profession.
  5. There is no steering, tracking, or ranking of the available careers.

Be prepared

I talked to my friend Tim McMahon, author of A Lean Journey blog, about his Boy Scout experience. Tim was an Eagle Scout and says he earned every merit badge at the time. His oldest boy is in Cub Scouts. He says that aside from skills built through merit badges, “The boys learn leadership skills by running patrols or other groups -- teams -- in Scouts. I think if you search for company CEOs you will find a number of them are Eagle Scouts.

“The Scouts also learn teamwork and problem solving skills by solving challenges, typically related to the outdoors but not always.  It is not uncommon to be given a box of items that the boys have to build something to solve a problem -- build a fire, measure a distance, find a location, and so on.”

Tim’s in tune with the Boy Scouts of America parent organization. When the Robotics merit badge was first announced, BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca has said, “While the guiding principles of Scouting—service to others, leadership, personal achievement, and respect for the outdoors—will never change, we continue to adapt programs to prepare young people for success in all areas of life.” 

How to help. 

You don’t have to be a parent of a scout age kid. Volunteer to help your local troop. Arrange a tour of your facility. Conduct a lean simulation? Like all things troops vary in how active they are, how they tap outside resources, and what they focus on. You might have to look around a bit to find the troop you are in sync with. But think about it. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org.

What’s missing?

There is no equivalent program in today’s Girl Scouts of America. We’ll take a look at that in my next post.


Unknown said...

Now we hear that gay people cannot be Scouts, Troop Leaders, or Den Mothers. If the leadership of Boy Scouts still believe that gay people are likely to be pedophiles or will make boys turn gay, they are living in the wrong century.

David Bueford said...

You might want to review and old book call the "The Goal written by "Eliyah Goldratt" it would be fun for the kids to learn about "Herbie" the slowest kind in line, and how observing him helped improve the world manufacturing processes.


Shiwani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm