BELOIT, Wis. — A high school teacher is spreading his passion for welding to kids through a sold-out book.  

What You Need To Know

  • Joe Kluge is the welding instructor at Beloit Memorial High School

  • Students are building successful futures in welding through his instruction

  • He wrote a book called "My First Welding Book," which sold out on Amazon in 24 hours

Joe Kluge is the welding instructor at Beloit Memorial High School. He first learned to weld in high school, but wasn’t sure it was the career for him.

“After high school, I stayed with it and really enjoyed it,” Kluge said.

He went into teaching to spread that knowledge to others.

The welding industry is experiencing a worker shortage, according to GVS-RPB, a manufacturing corporation. Data from the American Welding Society shows the country will need 360,000 welders by 2027. The average age of American welders is higher than the average age of people in the workforce overall, meaning more of them are approaching retirement. 

“I saw a need in the industry for people with no experience that wanted to get started, and thought I could help,” Kluge said.

Some of Kluge’s students have learned from him for years. One will graduate high school holding the same certifications Kluge does. One junior said he plans to be a welder after graduation.

Kluge is so passionate about the field that he wrote “My First Welding Book,” an illustrated children’s book. The main characters are named Rosie, Sparks and Miguel.

“Rosie is named after Rosie the Riveter, because that’s a way to pay tribute to somebody that was such a pioneer in our industry,” Kluge said. “Miguel … is for the Latino population. They are really working out there all the time, and I think it needs to be recognized.”

Each page has full-color illustrations showing where welders work. His daughter, Kyla Kluge, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, did all the artwork.

The book sold out on Amazon within 24 hours.

Kluge has given his students the opportunity to create futures for themselves. He said he hopes the book gets even more kids interested in the field.

“My First Welding Book” is also available on BookBaby.