Field of Study: Sheet Metal Technology
Programs in sheet metal technology prepare people to shape extruded metals. Students learn to use hand tools to form, bend, and fold metal sheets into shapes of new products. They learn how to use tools such as cornice brakes, forming rolls, and squaring shears.
Perhaps one of the few museums known more for its exterior than its interior is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, it is a free-form structure covered in titanium sheathing! While most sheet metal workers don't work in architecture or art, the uses of sheet metal are numerous, from forming heating ducts to covering the outside of a unique and famous building!
In sheet metal technology programs, you learn how to make and install various ducts made of sheet metal. These skills are most used in the air conditioning, heating, and ventilation industries. You learn computer welding and drafting technology, blueprint reading, and welding methods. In addition, you study how to use hand tools, equipment, and machines. You learn about shop safety and different industrial materials. You also study technical math. This helps you to make patterns, study heat loss, and learn how to size ducts, among other trade secrets.
Most people with degrees in sheet metal technology work as sheet metal technicians, makers, and welders. You can work as an installer for air conditioning, heating, roofing, and roofing and siding companies. You also can use your skills to find artistic work. This could mean installing ornate metal ceilings made of brass and copper. Or, you could make interesting hand-stamped signs.
Several private vocational schools and community colleges offer short programs in sheet metal technology. About 15 community colleges also offer one-year certificate and two-year associate degree programs. Some high schools coordinate vocational programs with community colleges. This allows high school students to take sheet metal technology courses before they graduate. In some cases, they are prepared for entry-level work after they receive their high school diploma.