Sparks fly with CLC’s Welding Department

Ciara White

Recently, the College of Lake County’s welding department received some attention on the college’s social media in celebration of Manufacturing Month.

The posts gave the welding program a well-deserved spotlight, allowing CLC students to learn more about the program and all that it entails.

Karsten Ilg

Karsten Ilg

CLC’s welding program strives for excellence, hoping to create a space where students can learn critical skills and trades while also feeling prepared for their upcoming career.

Karsten Illg is the department chair and instructor of welding and fabrication at CLC. He also manages the program with his division team, overseeing lab management, course development, budgeting, and many other aspects.

Although he has only been with the college for two years, Illg has been in the welding industry for over 17 years and enjoys every opportunity he has to share his love of welding.

“I truly enjoy working with my hands and really enjoy teaching and sharing this skill with others,” Illg said.

Illg’s father, a university professor, was the main person who inspired him to pursue teaching. The mentors Illg had at Elgin Community College only motivated him further, giving him crucial lessons and tips to guide him along the way.

Classes that Illg teaches are split into two sections. Students will learn and discuss welding principles, theories, and techniques during the first half, through presentations, demonstrations, and projects.

Photo via Karsten Illg

Photo via Karsten Illg

Next, students can apply what they’ve learned in labs.

“Students learn not only how to weld, but how to set up welding equipment, identify and work with different metals, prep metal using various industry-specific equipment, assemble projects, and even test welds for quality and structural integrity,” Illg said.

While striving for excellence, Illg, and the program also wish to be a leader in education.

Their most recent involvements include participation in Manufacturing Month, in which CLC student Henry Kingswell went online on Instagram and other social media and broadcasted an inside look of the program.

This month, the program has also connected with the Career and Job Placement Center at CLC to promote various welding industry opportunities and positions for students.

Photo via Karsten Illg

Photo via Karsten Illg

The program has also started planning and running new courses for students.

“We recently launched a new robotic welding course, and we’re in the early stages of building a new 145,000 SF Advanced Technology Center that will be home to CLC welding, computer numerical control (machining), and other career and technical education programs. We plan to make this move in January 2022,” Illg said.

Illg hopes that students seize all of the wonderful opportunities offered to them and to look deeper into the program if interested.

Although welding is a skilled art, its basics can be picked up in a short amount of time, making it perfect for all students.

Even if a student is not interested in a welding career, there is still significance in learning and understanding the skill and other trades.

“Welding, manufacturing, and the trades in general are the backbone of our community, country, and [the] world we live in,” Illg said. “With our expertise at CLC, we can help students start their journey in a fulfilling and exciting career working with their minds and hands.”