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August 20, 2020 by Tori Stanek

CWC welding supervisor gets certified as an American Welding Society Welding Inspector

photo of Matt Dripps on a welding CNC machine

Fall 2020 marks the start of Welding Shop Supervisor Matt Dripps’ third year at Central Wyoming College. It is also his first year as the newest American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welding Inspector for the welding program.

To gain this certification, Dripps passed an extensive, three-part exam that focused on welding fundamentals, the D1.1 code book and a hands-on practical. Others in the welding industry have equated it to the welder’s version of the Bar exam.

“It’s a pretty difficult exam,” he said. “Roughly 30% of testers pass the first time.”

Dripps was well prepared. In addition to attending a seminar at the Hobart Institute in Ohio during the summer, he said he spent the entire last year studying for his exams. 

“Teaching also helped quite a bit, because you really get into the fundamentals, theory, and inspection on a daily basis,” Dripps said. 

At CWC, the welding program combines hands-on welding practices with classroom instruction in commonly used welding processes. Students are trained according to the AWS D1.1 structural welding and American Petroleum Institute’s 1104 pipe code books. 

This fall, Dripps will teach Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), which involves using an electric arc between a wire electrode and metal to melt and join workpieces. He is also teaching a general welding course and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Plasma Cutting course. 

To ensure students gain a deep understanding of the field, metallurgy, blueprint reading and weld inspection courses are also part of the 62 credit hour program.


Because I’m the shop supervisor, I help teach all the processes. I do a lot of shop demonstrations and that requires competency in all areas. ”

Matt Dripps, welding lab supervisor

After CWC Welding Professor Darryl Steeds, Dripps is the second staff member to earn his AWS certification. Having two certified welding instructors is of great benefit to the campus.  

“It really boosts our program strength,” Steeds said. “It makes it easier to compete with our sister community colleges.” 

Both Steeds and Dripps noted this will also help the college run their AWS-accredited testing facility. The college offers Welder Qualification Test training for students who are interested in specializing under pipe and structure codes. 

“We can test students and members of the general public,” Dripps said. “And now we don’t have to worry about bringing in additional CWIs to avoid conflicts of interest by testing our own students.”

The welding program anticipates starting the year with 15-20 students. Thanks to his extensive prep work, he and Steeds are prepared to provide top of the line instruction. 

“I am excited for the program,” Steeds said.