Ohio State welding engineering program celebrates 75 years

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Warren Morrison was the first Buckeye to graduate with a welding engineering degree in the spring of 1948. There were two welding engineering graduates that year, but since Morrison’s surname came first alphabetically, he proudly claims the title of first Buckeye welding engineer. Today the 98-year-old is one of nearly 3,000 welding engineering alumni whose unique skills continue to be in high demand across many industries.

Two rows of students welding at stations during a welding engineering lab in 1956.
Welding engineering lab, 1956

The welding engineering program at The Ohio State University turns 75 this year, but its roots stretch back to 1938 when arc welding became the prominent means of joining iron and steel in the post-war era and was first recognized as a manufacturing technique. Welding’s role in the repair and manufacturing of equipment was vital to the country's defense program, but the science behind joining needed refined. Ohio State embraced the challenge and created the Bachelor of Science in Industrial/Welding Engineering.

Nearly 10 years later, the viability of welding engineering sparked an additional curriculum that included processes, materials and design. The Department of Welding Engineering was created along with a unique academic discipline that mixed physics, chemistry, metallurgy, mechanics and strength of materials, machine design, structural design, and electrical engineering. Today’s multidisciplinary program is still based on these fundamental areas.

Welding engineering is a complex discipline blending materials science, design, inspection, mechanical and welding systems, lasers, and robots. Welding engineers understand the properties and processes behind welds and their expertise is used in the production of nearly every manufactured product. Making the field more challenging is a constantly evolving manufacturing and materials landscape requiring researchers, engineers and scientists to be fluent in materials interaction. The program’s commitment to education and research in the science and technology of materials joining is vital to advancing the competitiveness of the nation’s economy and security.

Over the years, the welding engineering program has been a part of four departments, including a standalone department: the Department of Industrial Engineering (as a combined welding engineering-industrial engineering degree), 1938; Department of Welding Engineering, 1948; Department of Industrial, Welding and Systems Engineering, 1995; and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 2010.

Ohio State is the only institution in the country to offer BS, MS, and PhD degrees in welding engineering. And in 2003, welding engineering faculty launched the College of Engineering’s first fully online master’s program. Each milestone throughout the 75-year history reflects an adaptation aligning curriculum, student preparedness and industry.

The online welding engineering degree program was created for people already working in a welding-related field. Stellantis Joining Quality Supervisor Liz Lekarczyk said, “Ohio State’s welding engineering distance online learning program allows me to build welding and joining engineering knowledge while advancing my career and completing my degree at my own pace.”

Students enrolled in the online graduate program hail from as far away as the Middle East, South America and New Zealand. It is one of the college’s three online graduate degree programs and is consistently ranked in the nation’s top 20 online graduate engineering programs.

Desmond Bourgeois tests hydrogen-assisted cracking in dissimilar steel welds.
Desmond Bourgeois '14, '15, tests hydrogen-assisted cracking in dissimilar steel welds as doctoral student. He returned to Ohio State as a welding engineering assistant professor in 2020.

The welding engineering program has grown to include research groups related to weldability evaluation, computational materials engineering, advanced manufacturing processes and degradation. Ohio State hosts the Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center (Ma2JIC), an Industry-University Cooperative Research Center approved by the National Science Foundation in 2010. Ma2JIC includes four partner institutions that perform materials joining and additive manufacturing research for member companies representing the energy generation, aerospace, automotive and defense industries, among others. Welding Engineering Professor Antonio Ramirez is the director.

The historical significance of welding engineering at Ohio State is reflected in the growth, collaboration, innovations and advancements that collectively earn the program world-renowned status. Enriched by a sound network of people who value the discipline, program faculty refine curriculum and research that include real-world, experiential learning. Large and small companies sponsor capstone projects complementing students’ research interests. Mentorship opportunities and financial support are generously provided by alumni, industry and the American Welding Society.

The 75th anniversary of Ohio State’s welding engineering program includes a celebration and symposium at FABTECH, a reception during homecoming weekend, invited speakers for the colloquium series, regional receptions around the country, the Welding Automation Expo and Conference at Ohio State, and opportunities to support the program. Events will be added and updated throughout the year.

modified version of original article by Libby Culley, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering

Categories: CollegeAlumni

Welding engineering at Ohio State by the numbers

Degrees established by year

  • BS 1948
  • MS 1956
  • PhD 1985

Degrees conferred (as of April 6, 2023)

  • 1,835 bachelor’s degrees
  • 473 master’s degrees (120 from online grad program)
  • 59 PhD Degrees

Enrollment (Autumn 2022)

  • 86 undergraduate students
  • 78 graduate students

Square footage of Welding Engineering Laboratory (EJTC)

  • 35,000 sq. ft.