(WACO, Texas) – Jake Pringle and Fernando Venegas have known each other for as long as they can remember.
They grew up together attending Groesbeck schools and now are attending Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus where they are in the Welding Technology program. Pringle is working toward a certificate, and Venegas is studying for an associate degree.
“It’s the best welding program in Texas,” Pringle said.
Pringle was inspired to pursue welding because his father has oil field work experience. Venegas said he developed an interest in welding in high school.
The students said stick welding is their favorite. And, they both said they do better with hands-on learning.
Pringle and Venegas are joined by at least 10 other students from Groesbeck attending TSTC this semester. Other programs the students are studying include Biomedical Equipment Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, and Cybersecurity.
All students in the Groesbeck Independent School District get their hands on technology. Students in pre-kindergarten use school district-issued iPads, while students in kindergarten to 12th grade use school district-issued laptops.
“It is a piece of what we do every day,” said Diana Freeman, assistant superintendent of the Groesbeck Independent School District. “We do this because when they go to work, wherever they go to work, they are going to have to be able to do some kind of technology.”
The school district has a strong history in teaching agriculture and welding.
“For us, everybody starts in agriculture, and then you kind of make your choice whether you want to study animals, plants or welding,” said Freeman.
The school district has had 17 high school seniors graduate with an American Welding Society certification, Freeman said. The school district also offers career and technical education classes in business, culinary arts, construction, graphic design and health science.
Groesbeck High School has two counselors, with one dedicated to the career and technical education needs of its more than 400 students.
“TSTC is a place you can go and get that certificate or associate degree — you can get that training to go out and get a job you can do well with,” Freeman said.
After graduating from TSTC, Pringle wants to weld on power lines and will go wherever there is a good job. Venegas said he wants to do pipeline work after graduation.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.