bob throndsen

Meet the Teacher – Bob Throndsen

Welding and Metal Fabrication is in high demand.  In 2016, over 400,000 welders were repairing and creating new products in the United States.  Since then the welding industry has grown at a steady 6% year over year.  The projected future of welding is bright, and also looks to continue adding talent at 6 – 10% every year.  Have you ever wanted to work with your hands while creating metal art, creating one-off custom cars, or creating the next hot product?  If so, Sno-Isle TECH has the perfect program to get you headed in the right direction.

About the Welding and Metal Fabrication Program

The Welding and Metal Fabrication class at Sno-Isle TECH is designed to get students into a general metal background as a foundation for continuing education or a trade-vocational career.  The class setting is an industry-based shop environment focusing on welding, fabrication and safety.  Lessons are taught with a blend of lecture, assignments, and hands-on competencies that maintain the student’s interest and foster a deeper appreciation of the trade.

Students will work in a classroom and shop environment developing skills in many types of welding and fabrication including: shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), flux-core arc welding (FCAW), air carbon arc cutting, plasma arc cutting, and Oxy-fuel gas cutting and welding. Successful students in this program can also earn up to 30 free college credits through the EvCC Tech Prep program.

Meet the Instructor

Bob Throndsen leads the Welding and Metal Fabrication program at Sno-Isle TECH., He is a local to the Seattle area and was raised by parents who owned one of those cool old service stations in the Magnolia District of Seattle.  He has a background as a mechanic, but was bitten by the welding bug early on.  His love of street rods lead him to open his own business of fabricating custom street rod frames and parts in 1981.  We recently caught up with Bob between classes and asked a few questions on his background and hobbies, the challenges of classes this year, and some of the projects students can get their hands on through the class.

What is your professional background and how did you arrive at Sno-Isle TECH?

I grew up and was trained as an automotive mechanic, specializing in brakes, front-end work, and front-end alignments. I have always been into street rods and custom cars and trucks. At the time, most folks with a street rod that had a modified frame and suspension would bring me their ride at the shop I worked at.  I could do a front-end alignment on it and make it go straight down the road. I saw so much undesirable work and bad welding that I knew there was a better way of doing those modifications.

In 1975 I went to school to learn how to weld, and I started doing street rod chassis modifications for some friends and customers after hours and on the weekends. Working as a welder in a rock quarry, in 1981 I opened my own shop on my property in Smokey Point and started doing motorsports fabrication full time. In the hay day of business, I had three employees plus myself working in my two large shops with my lovely wife doing the bookwork part of the business. We put independent front ends, different motors, and rear ends on a lot of cars and trucks. We were known as one of the go to shops for this kind of work in our area and put a lot of smiles on customers faces for many years, not only for the fabrication services but for wiring, brake systems, and anything under the car body !

When my oldest son hit Lakewood High School I was upset that they had closed down the metal shop. My wife and I served on a committee there and tried to get the metal shop open again, but that did not work. We heard about the Sno-Isle TECH summer program and I enrolled my son there and volunteered at the same time. I loved the interaction with the students and soon landed the job as the welding instructor. I have been at Sno-Isle TECH for 17 years now and have had fantastic results with my students teaching them to take pride in their work and having great skills for their tool belt that they can use for life. 

Welding seems like it would require ‘hands on’ training to teach and learn. What adjustments have you made to teach this ‘virtually’?

I have found that you can teach and assess theory online, but there is nothing like handling the equipment. If the students stay on top of the virtual assignments, when they get here for a shop day, we can handle the tools and talk about what they learned online with actually doing something. These students love to work with their hands, and that is why they are here. With having only four students at a time here for a class, we get some real personalized training. A lot of time has to be spent figuring online content but there is a lot of information to pull from.  I really do not have to reinvent anything.

How are your students responding to the challenges of virtual learning?

Getting students to actually participate in an online curriculum is a bit of a challenge. Some think this is still a vacation like they thought at the end of last year. Some are doing FANTASTIC and come to class very eager to do things with what they have learned. Technology is the biggest hurdle for most to overcome. Instructors, students, and parents have all become frustrated with how the technology is supposed to talk to us but does not. The tech department has its hands full trying to help everyone!

What are some of the projects that students participate in as part of the curriculum?

Projects are something that happens AFTER curriculum items are taken care of. The students are here to learn how to weld properly in all angles and complete shop competencies before they are allowed to make a project. Popular projects include rock sliders and custom tube bumpers for their trucks, assorted items for their homes or shops, artwork, and repairing broken things that they bring in. In the past we have practiced mass production and fabricated items to sell at local bazaars. We have made fences, entry gates, and plaques for local parks and recreation areas.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of the classroom?

I still have my street rod/fabrication business that I work in on the weekends and after hours. My wife and I like to take our vintage house trailer out to events around the Northwest, towed by our big block powered 1953 Chev Cab Over flatbed truck. We stay busy helping our three adult kids with their projects.

I like to go fly fishing with my wife walking the streams with me. We also live on twenty acres that takes a lot of time just to maintain! I built our large farmhouse and shops back in 1981 by myself with help from my dad, my father-in-law, my wife, and some friends. My wife works for the Lakewood School District that is right down the road from our home acreage, which keeps her very busy as High School athletic and events coordinator, ASB secretary, and now attendance secretary at one of the grade schools.

I also fabricate radio flyer wagons into pit toys plus sell plans, parts, and pieces with customers all over the world.

Program Background

The Welding and Metal fabrication course is designed to offer students hands-on experience and a head-start on a career in welding.  Beyond the knowledge gained through the course, these certifications are available:

  • Progress towards American Welding Society certificate
  • Progress towards WABO – Washington Association of Building Officials
  • Progress towards Associates Degree in Welding at Everett CC

Course Requirements

  • Lab Fee: We currently do not have a lab fee.
  • OSHA 10 card will be available for a $10.00 fee
  • Required Uniform – Students are required to supply items from the classroom and shop supply list.

 Welding Shop Supply List:

  • Shurelite cup striker
  • Extra striker flints
  • Welding gloves
  • Chipping hammer
  • Carbon steel wire brush
  • Stainless steel wire toothbrush
  • Oxy cutting glasses tinted: -Shade 5 or 6
  • Welding helmet: -Shade 10 at least
  • Center punch
  • MIG plyers/wire cutters

 Welding Shop Attire:

  • Coveralls or layers of appropriate clothing
  • Work jeans: no shorts or sweatpants
  • Leathers: optional
  • Thick leather boots: -NO TENNIS SHOES OR OPEN TOED SHOES -Romeos are OK: steel-toed boots are preferred
  • Hats are OK: no nylon webbed trucker hats -100% natural fibers: (no synthetic materials like nylon, rayon, etc.)
  • Proper eyewear at ALL times: First pair provided
  • Ear protection recommended: Foam ear plugs provided
  • Respirators are optional

Classroom Supply List:

  • 2” notebook
  • 1 pack notebook paper
  • 1 pencil pouch
  • 2 black sharpies
  • 1 gray or silver sharpie
  • Several pens or pencils
  • 12’ or 16’ tape measure
  • 18” steel ruler: optional
  • Protractor: optional

If your favorite student has wanted to learn to weld and fabricate metal projects from an exceptional instructor, the Welding and metal Fabrication program at Sno-Isle TECH is exactly what they are looking for.

For more information on the program, visit the Sno-isle TECH Welding and Metal Fabrication classroom page.