(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Manuel Soto has seen a big difference in his welding skills over the past year.
Soto, of Newcastle, Texas, is completing his certificate of completion in Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College. As each day goes by, he thinks about returning to school when he graduates. Now in his third semester of the certificate program, Soto said he may continue his studies to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.
“I have seen myself improve so much over the past year,” he said. “My confidence level is higher than it has ever been.”
Even Soto’s former Newcastle High School agriculture science teacher, Kraig McMillan, has seen Soto’s work improve.
“Manuel has learned so much over the past year,” McMillan said. “Coming to TSTC has given him the chance to mature and work on his welding techniques.”
Soto, who has been welding for most of his teenage years, credits McMillan for a career in the welding field.
“He worked so well with all of the students,” he said. “Mr. McMillan made all of us into welders. I am glad I can continue to learn at TSTC.”
Soto has been able to learn different techniques from TSTC instructors Stephen Hope and A.J. Lewis.
“Stephen will look at your project and explain to you what you did wrong,” he said. “A.J. likes to take his time with us so we have good welding techniques.”
One area that Soto was pleased to learn more about was the ability to read blueprints.
“Before I started the program, I was not confident in reading blueprints,” he said. “Now I can look at them and understand what I have to do. That has made a big difference for me. It goes back to being confident, and this program has built that up for me in many ways.”
Soto also appreciates learning from Hope’s time on the road as a welder.
“Stephen has done so much during his career, and he can relate it to us,” he said. “What is great is that both Stephen and A.J. have different ideas, and we can learn so much from those two different viewpoints.”
Soto attended a high school welding competition that TSTC hosted in 2021 and earned a scholarship. He said he wanted to pay it forward by promoting the program during this year’s recent event in Breckenridge.
“I had a friend from Newcastle attend this year’s contest, and I have talked to him about the program.” He said. “I told him it would be a great way to get an education and learn from the best instructors. He was at the contest this year, and I hope he decides to attend TSTC.”
He had one message for his high school friend and other prospective students.
“I told him that I did not know what I was going to do with my life until the contest,” he said. “I am glad I made the decision to attend TSTC because everyone here treats you like you are family. That is the best feeling I could have.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $45,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028 in the state, according to the website.
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.