Featured Shop: Rockwell City

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Many of the men at the Rockwell City Plant come into IPI’s job-training program with no metal-work experience, but when they leave the program, they take experience, skills and sometimes even certificates with them.

The apprenticeship program for welding at the Rockwell City Plant has drawn in incarcerated individuals since the plant opened in 2006. It’s a chance for them to invest in their futures by gaining valuable practical experience in metal fabrication.

“I had previous work experience, but not as a metal fabricator,” said *Charles, an inmate who graduated the welding apprenticeship program. “I’ve learned so many technical skills; welding, fabrication, wood working, time management, etc…”

Charles said that he looks forward to leaving Rockwell City and applying what he’s learned to a welding position he hopes to obtain upon his release. “My favorite thing I like about this job is the freedom to think, do, act, plan” Charles said. “I like using my hands and mind, and I like the chance to prove to myself I can do it.”

Men like Charles are what IPI staff Craig Hilpipre and Doyle Austin hope to see come out of the job-training program at the Rockwell City Plant.

“I’ve seen guys come into our shop with no skills and leave a certified welder or painter,” said Craig Hilpipre, Production Coordinator at the Rockwell City Plant. “I’ve always been motivated by an associate who is willing to soak up any knowledge I can share with them.”

Doyle Austin, Senior Industries Technician at the Rockwell City Plant, agreed with Craig, saying that the most valuable thing an inmate can gain in the job-training program is marketable skills.

“When we see an inmate not only achieve work skills but also personal skills, that encourages me,” Doyle said, “and seeing that once they’re released they are succeeding.”

The IPI staff train between 13-20 men in metal fabrication at the Rockwell City Plant. The incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to learn everything from sand blasting to powder coating, while also developing professional skills that will help them succeed wherever they may work in the future.

The Rockwell City Plant focuses on equipment refurbishment, boat docks and park items. Men exit the job-training program with skills in metal fabrication, welding and painting. A welding certificate can be achieved upon the completion of a 6-month program. An average of 12 incarcerated individuals are certified each year.

For more information about the Rockwell City Plant, please contact Plant Manager Al Reiter at 319-462-3547 or al.reiter@iowa.gov.

*Indicates name change for confidentiality of identity.

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