By all accounts PCC alum Jeff Van Raden is the PCC Welding program's biggest proponent. He hires PCC grads, sits on the department's advisory board and the PCC Foundation board and donates equipment, money and his own time. Last spring Jeff, one of several owners of Columbia Industries, again went to bat for the program as he testified before the Oregon Legislature about the proposed budget for community colleges.
Jeff explained that his company, which makes solid waste equipment and self-propelling systems for oil rigs, is expanding its business into China and Vietnam and will need to hire 20 additional welders to operate 20-ton cranes. More money given to community colleges would help expand the welding program and put more welders into the market. Without it, Jeff said the lack of available welders would crimp his business. "PCC has helped us," he said. "This is a very critical institution for us."