(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – More than 70 high school students from different areas of Texas competed for scholarships during Texas State Technical College welding competitions this month.
Events were held at TSTC’s Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses, with students having to work on different projects. High school agriculture science teachers said the contest provided students with a different outlook on welding.
“This contest helps my students broaden their horizons. To be in a competition with other students is one of the best things for the students,” said Milton Woody, welding teacher at Big Spring High School. “This allowed some of my students to strive to do better and perform above their current skill level.”
Woody said TSTC is the perfect setting for the contest.
“TSTC has good machines and good exhaust systems,” he said. “All of the tools the students need are right here. It is also great that everyone on campus is here to help. TSTC made us feel welcome in their facility.”
Woody entered 12 students — eight seniors and four sophomores — in the Sweetwater event and plans to continue bringing students.
“This experience is invaluable to all of them,” he said. “Many of them had a deer-in-the-headlights look when they got here. But once they got started, it was just like welding at our school. It is a good experience for the students to know a shop other than our welding shop.”
Caleb Gamblin, the agriculture science teacher at Bangs ISD, entered seven students in the Brownwood competition. He said six of his students plan to attend TSTC for Welding Technology or other programs.
“Having this contest exposes students to the campus and what is available to them,” he said. “This can get them excited about going to college after high school.”
Another element factored into his decision to enter students in the contest.
“A little competition is always good,” he said. “This contest allowed them to use their brains and was pretty challenging.”
Kraig McMillan, the agriculture science teacher at Newcastle ISD, had one student enter this year’s Breckenridge event. Two of his students from the 2021 competition are currently enrolled in TSTC’s Welding Technology program.
“This is a great thing for students. They get to see what they are able to do,” he said. “It also gives them a chance to do more with their skills.”
Dallas Willis, a welding teacher at Rolling Plains Technical School, is no stranger to TSTC’s contest. In 2021 she had students compete in three events, and this year she had eight compete in Sweetwater.
“My students love coming here to compete,” she said. “They are able to train on different machines and in a different shop. The welding is the same, but to do it in a different setting is a good way to broaden your skills.”
Willis said many of her students do not participate in athletics, so attending welding contests is their dream.
“They do not compete in sports, so each of my welders takes this competition seriously,” she said. “They enjoy coming to TSTC to compete.”
One of her students, Martin Hernandez, said the experience will help him as a welder.
“It was a new experience for me because I have not done a lot of angle welding,” he said. “It was exciting to compete and meet some new people.”
Stephen Hope, TSTC’s welding instructor in Breckenridge, said he hopes the competitions will continue.
“Hosting these welding competitions allows us to offer scholarships and promote our welding program,” he said.
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas.
Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to welding students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.