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March, 2015

A naturally good fit

Welding students craft pens for salmon release effort

By Gena Checki

Welding students at the Racine Campus are building two salmon trap pens for use on the Root River. The purpose of the pens is to provide a safer and more efficient way to release salmon into the Root River in Racine. Each 21-foot by 6-foot pen will hold about 3,000 fingerling Chinook salmon, where they will stay for three weeks. After the salmon are fed for three weeks and increase in size, they will be released into the river. The purpose of the pen is to prevent birds from eating the fingerling.

Angelo Trentadue, a Gateway Welding student and member of Salmon Unlimited, approached Welding division chair Ben McFarland with the idea. McFarland encouraged Trentadue to sign up for a welding class and decided to go ahead with the project.

Each pen will be made out of aluminum with two floats on either side to allow it to float on the water. Trentadue designed the pen himself and had it drawn up on a blueprint. Salmon Unlimited is supplying the materials for the project.

According to McFarland, this project is important for welding students because it gives students the opportunity to apply the skills they learned in the textbook to a real-life situation.

“It teaches basic fabrication and GTAW (Gas, Tungsten, Arc Welding) skills,” he said.

About 40 hours have been devoted to the project and all of the welding has been completed. Currently, the two pens are in storage at Azarian’s Marina, where they will stay until the students obtain the necessary netting and flotation devices to complete the project.

McFarland hopes to have the pens in use sometime after April 15. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has to mark each of the fish with a microtag first and then they will be distributed throughout the state.

Life is Big. Be Prepared.