image0 372x451 - Six students from TSTC’s North Texas campus medal at SkillsUSA

(RED OAK, Texas) – Adam Rivas, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College, is one of six students from the North Texas campus who won medals at the recent SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference in Houston.

Rivas won a gold medal in the Welding category, in which competitors were tasked with making what Rivas described as a “bird box”-type structure.

“They had a project that’s simply a basic fabrication, but they were required to use multiple welding processes,” Joseph Francia, lead instructor for TSTC’s North Texas Welding Technology program, said. “They applied those particular welding processes to those applications, and then they were judged on visual appearance.”

Rivas has experience with welding going back to his sophomore year in high school.

“Our teacher, he taught us the basics: simple positions, simple techniques,” he said. “From there, that’s really where I grew into welding a lot because ever since those first moments of welding, it really struck something in me. It’s something about being able to manipulate the metal —  it’s satisfying. And once I get it all put together, it’s something that can really cheer me up.”

Rivas said his previous experience is part of why he felt prepared to compete.

“Preparing, I had to get my mentality right because confidence is really the key to any competition,” he said. “Going into that competition, I knew I had the confidence because I knew I had experience from my past.”

That experience helped Rivas during the competition when the welding machine’s heat was turned up while he was welding and a hole was blown through his metal.

“I knew what to do, and I stopped right away,” he said. “I had to fix that blow-through, which was pretty difficult to do. Nonetheless, I got it done.”

During the SkillsUSA awards ceremony, Rivas said he had been checking his phone and had no idea that he had placed first until he heard one of his instructors cheering him on.

“All of a sudden I see my teacher jump up and start screaming, ‘Yay, Adam! Let’s go!’” Rivas said. “I look up at him, and I’m like, ‘What?’ And I look up at the screen, and I see my name, gold, and at that moment I didn’t want to believe it. I jumped up and rushed to go to the stage. It was a crazy experience for me, just to see that I got gold out of everyone else.”

The other students from the North Texas campus who placed in competitions at the SkillsUSA state level are:


  • CNC 2-Axis Turning Programmer: Jackson Vince Sturgess, silver.
  • CNC 3-Axis Milling Programmer: Henry Nguyen, silver.
  • CNC Programmer: William Daniel Navar Wright, gold.
  • Industrial Motor Control: Christopher Nicholson, silver, and Antonio Gonzales Jr., bronze.


As gold medalists at the state level, Rivas and Wright are qualified to compete at the 2023 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference scheduled for June 19-23 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rivas said he is excited for nationals and to see where he places.

“I’m looking forward to the competition,” he said. “I want to see where I’m at in that competition. I really hope I’m up there. I’m going to strive to be up there.”

Francia shared in his student’s anticipation.

“I’m excited for Adam,” he said. “I’m excited for him to go to nationals. I’m excited for our smaller program here in North Texas to come out on top. I’m excited to be part of that with him.”

SkillsUSA is a professional organization focused on employability, leadership and technical skills that help college students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories in which students can compete, from 3D Visualization and Automation to Welding Sculpture.

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to

For more information on TSTC, go to

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