Miami – The American Welding Society (AWS), the world's largest organization dedicated to advancing the science, technology and application of welding, appointed Monica Pfarr as corporate director of the AWS Foundation Solutions Opportunity Squad (SOS).

In this role, Ms. Pfarr will spearhead the SOS, which is made up of AWS staff individuals who will consult with and build strategies for local AWS Sections, businesses and other organizations that have specific workforce development needs. The SOS was created as part of the AWS Foundation's Welder Workforce Development Program, which was launched in 2006 to contend with the growing shortage of skilled welders in the United States. It is estimated that there will be a shortage of at least 200,000 welders by 2010.

"We are pleased to welcome Monica to our AWS Foundation and new SOS," said Ray Shook, AWS executive director. "Our SOS initiative is integral to the Society and the strength of our Welder Workforce Development Program. Monica's appointment demonstrates our commitment to operate this important endeavor with dedicated resources that enable us to execute well, while also maintaining focus on our core initiatives. Her passion, extensive background in manufacturing operations, curriculum development and instruction, as well as her proven record of success and innovation make her very well-suited to take the key role in our Foundation's SOS program."

AWS' Welder Workforce Development Program is intended to address the critical need for recruitment and specialized training of entry level welders while providing for industry workforce needs. This is an entirely new kind of program designed to fulfill an immediate need for welders across North America. The program was born out of a generous $1 million donation from Miller Electric Manufacturing and Hobart Brothers, as well as a $100,000 contribution from AWS Past President Ron Pierce and his wife, Joyce. It is a critical component of the AWS Foundation's $10 million capital campaign, Welding for the Strength of America, which is aimed at facilitating programs, scholarships and other initiatives in support of the welding industry. At year-end 2007, the AWS Foundation has raised $2.6 million toward the campaign effort.