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Grate specifications

WCCC students get hands-on training via PennDOT

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Students at the Warren County Career Center welding shop who collaborated with PennDOT in the construction of 10 drain grates include (front, from left): PennDOT welder Dave Schwartz, Justin Hamilton, WCCC welding teacher Nate McNett, Patrick Gantz, Hunter Seelinger, Caleb Ace, Jack Davidson, Gavin Labowski, Zach Ciprich, and Danah Campbell; and (back) Kyle Swick, Brent Young, Hayden Morris, Alex Zeigler, Sawyer Lawson, Michael Crane, and Trey Whyte.

Students worked on a real-world project.

PennDOT focused on winter maintenance.

A recent collaborative project between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Warren County Career Center is a win-win.

About 15 students in the welding shop spent time over the last several weeks making drainage grates for PennDOT Warren County.

PennDOT Welder Dave Schwartz and welding teacher Nathan McNett set up the project.

“Dave brought the materials and showed us how to build them,” McNett said. “We followed his lead.”

“They came in in bar stock,” Schwartz said. “We had one jigged up and tacked together.”

“They assembled them and welded them,” he said.

“We got as many of the kids as we could involved in it,” McNett said. “Live work is very important to these guys.”

In welding the grates, students used different techniques, McNett said, including tack welding, metal core and pulse spray mig welding.

“This was very interesting to them,” he said. “They had to make repairs in places where things didn’t go well.”

“The scrap bin was not an option,” McNett said. “We had enough material for 10. We made 10.”

There was an inspection process following construction.

“It’s a PennDOT spec,” Schwartz said. “It comes from a PennDOT blueprint.”

The work measured up. “They all look perfect,” he said.

Schwartz said making the grates in-house takes time because it is a low-priority job. “Sometimes it takes me five months to make 13 of them,” he said. “We take care of the fleet first.”

The cold-rolled mild steel is not the strongest material, but it is cost-effective.

“It’s durable and long-lasting,” Schwartz said. “The mild steel helps bring the cost down.”

The grates are expected to have 25-year lifetimes. Grates located closer to roads may last less than that.

They are not suitable for placement in roadways. “You will not see one of these in downtown Warren. They are placed where nobody is going to get hurt,” he said. “They are not bicycle-safe.”

The bars in the leafless drain covers are wide-spaced to help flow. Grates that have to carry traffic have bars that are much closer together.

The grates are heavy — about 180 pounds each.

All of the grates made at the career center are expected to be used in Warren County and could be installed as early as this spring.

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