CWI Corner: Meet Cole Warner

This ambitious, 27-year-old CWI has put his trade talents to good use. Do you have a cup of coffee to sip on while reading this profile? If not, go get one or fetch your favorite beverage to enjoy alongside learning about Cole Warner.  

AWS Publications | February 25, 2021 | Inspection
Welding Digest ►  CWI Corner: Meet Cole Warner

This ambitious, 27-year-old CWI has put his trade talents to good use. Do you have a cup of coffee to sip on while reading this profile? If not, go get one or fetch your favorite beverage to enjoy alongside learning about Cole Warner.  

Allowing his own spark to shine, Warner’s starting out early in his career wearing many helmets. At Lippert Components Inc. (, Goshen, Ind., he’s a welding trainer and also uses his Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) skill set in various ways, including on steel I-beams (Figure 1). Find out more about his past, present and future within this article. Cole 1Figure 1: Cole Warner works at Lippert Components Inc., Goshen, Ind. In this photo, he looks over welds on steel I-beams. As a practice, he first keeps an eye out for defects, then goes back with inspection tools, if necessary.  


On the fast track  


Rather fitting, Warner is a self-professed “car guy” who hails from Tipton, Ind., a mere hour away from Indianapolis where the famous motor speedway and Indy 500 take place.  

In high school, he took an automotive class while looking for employment in line with his hobby. Performing mechanic tasks led to welding. In wanting to know more about arcs and sparks, he took courses at a center in nearby Elwood, Ind. Over time, he was pleased to change gears from detasseling corn to securing shop work.  

Warner stayed in state for college and kept on taking automotive courses. But his father thought he should keep pursuing welding, so he did at Vincennes University.  

“The reason I’m at where I am,” Warner said with gratitude, is because of the guidance given by instructors Thomas L. Newman (dearly departed) and Mike Hastings. He continues to honor them by paying it forward.  

In 2016, Warner graduated from the university with an associate’s degree in welding technology. For nearly two years after, he served at the university as a program coordinator/adjunct professor, working with new hires for Lippert Components. He instructed them on how to weld and basic theory. A grant made possible by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s Skill UP Indiana program enabled students to earn an advanced welding certificate and credits from the university to use toward an associate degree in welding. He joined the company at the end of 2017.  


Present day practices  


Warner is a welding trainer at Lippert Components, a supplier of components to the recreational vehicle (RV) and residential housing industries, along with adjacent industries, including bus, cargo and equestrian trailer, marine and heavy truck. It has more than 70 facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom.  

More than 650 welders, across four plants, work for the company in Elkhart County, Ind., for the chassis division. They perform gas metal arc welding (GMAW), hybrid laser GMAW, pulse GMAW and metal core GMAW.  

Warner values the mentoring aspects of training and acknowledges “a lot of pride” goes into crafting welds, akin to signing your name.  

The chassis division builds 1300 frames/day, a number that still impresses Warner. Recently, the Chassis Training Center was created. “Fifty people now have trained in the last few months,” Warner said, within this space. He played a part in its establishment and praised Jose Baez, his colleague who speaks Spanish, for acting as a translator between some trainees.  

Surprisingly, production has increased 20% during the pandemic. This could be attributed to families preferring RV travel over an airplane. “Interesting year for sure,” Warner reasoned.  

He’s also in awe of the R&D Department and likes following projects progress from an idea to a full build.  

“Everything is a learning process,” Warner said. Implementing inspection practices is part of his forte, too.  


The path to earning CWI status  


Always up for a good challenge, Warner heard the CWI test was hard. Therefore, he thought, “Why not give it a try?”  

He forged ahead, deciding to foot the funds and put his skills to the test. Part of his preparation included an in-person, six-day seminar taught by CWI Paul W. Cameron. He chose testing to the American Welding Society’s (AWS’s) D1.1, Structural Welding Code— Steel.  

Warner took studying seriously. “I really don’t want to fail,” he recalled.  

The AWS Member Network was a good support as well. Spotting various posts helped him be a fly on the wall gathering tips from questions asked and responses given.  

His hard efforts paid off in the form of passing. Warner’s CWI certification is valid from December 2019 to 2022. Currently, his CWI prowess is used in different ways.  

He’s often called on at the I-beam processing center. Steel I-beams are welded there from end to end. Looking at the welds for defects, then using inspection tools, if necessary, occurs. With the large quantities produced, scanning technology is further utilized. Not that long ago, more employees were hired to help meet these needs. Imperfections need to be caught and fixed, so finished products will be reliable and sound.  

“We’re hands on with day-to-day inspection,” Warner said.  

Depending on the metal thickness, AWS D1.3, Structural Welding Code —Sheet Steel; D1.1; C7.2, Recommended Practices for Laser Beam Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes; and C7.6, Process Specification and Operator Qualification for Laser Hybrid Welding, are adhered to. He also performs both fillet weld break and fatigue tests, plus inspects bent samples (Figures 2, 3).  Cole 2Figure 2: Warner talks about a fillet weld break test with colleagues.  

Cole 3Figure 3: Warner visually inspects a bent sample.  


“We’re training incoming welders,” Warner added. Evaluating weld quality, then making further decisions based on that, is important; so are welding procedure specifications and procedure qualification records.  

He cherishes that his career is challenging, involves moving in different directions and encompasses creative thinking to discover solutions.  

“I enjoy every minute of it,” Warner emphasized. He offered this advice for someone who wants to become a CWI: “Do it!”  


Beyond 2021  


Looking forward, Warner is excited for the future. He hopes what’s ahead includes building training and inspection teams at Lippert Components; creating a trailer manufacturing specification; preparing the fabricators to weld to certain codes; looking at ideas for qualifying welders; becoming an AWS Senior Certified Welding Inspector; possibly aiming for American Society for Nondestructive Testing certification; and more. In his down time, he’s training for an Ironman, putting him in a different driver’s seat.  

Readers may get in touch with Warner at  


By Kristin Campbell (, managing editor of Inspection Trends. Photos courtesy of Cole Warner.