Rick Prazen is the instructor for the metal sculpting class at SLCC, but not only is he a teacher, Prazen is also an accomplished artist with his works decorating the Salt Lake Valley. Prazen has a colorful and expansive welding career, but as a teacher he helps students start forging their own future.
“I see a variety of students,” says Prazen about what types of people enroll for his class. “You see foreign exchange students, men and women, young and old, some are retired and some are just venturing out and starting their careers.”
Prazen teaches the Basic Metal Sculpting class taught at the Taylorsville Redwood campus with morning and evening classes during summer and fall semester. The metal sculpting class that Prazen teaches differs from regular industrial metal welding, as it focuses on building art using metal.
“Whatever [students] love or are passionate about is what I want to see them bring out,” says Prazen when asked about what students create in the metal sculpting class.
Students in Prazen’s class start out by building a simple six sided cube in order to learn the basics of welding and planning, and towards the end of the semester students weld a rose and a final project. When it comes time for final project Prazen noted that students, veterans in particular, make art pieces dedicated to their military career.
“I’ve told students that yes, you can make a living at this,” says Prazen, “and if you love doing it, why not do what you love?”
Prazen states that artistic metal welding can be a hobby that brings in more money than it actually costs.
Prazen talked about how past students have gone and started their own small business using the skill learned in the class. A particular example was that of a student that started their own business selling custom artistic weather vanes that have sold for $2,000 or $3,000 a piece.
The class has also served as a jumping off point for many students who move on to the related welding classes. Prazen said that students have learned enough in the class to get a career in regular welding and that many have done so by finishing the class.
“I believe that a lot of [women] have a very fine hand in welding,” says Prazen when asked about the need for women in welding careers.
The need for women in welding has increased in the last 10 years prompting a rise in scholarships and grants for any woman who wants to pursue such a career. In response to this Prazen said that has witnessed a rise in the number of women who join his class in the last several years.
“A lot of them I could see in aeronautical and things like that,” says Prazen. “Because they can really do anything that the guys can do.”
“I got girls in here now who are really class A welders and designers,” Prazen says.