(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Omar Escalon, of La Feria, served as a U.S. Border Patrol agent for 11 years. Afterward, he was in search of a personal challenge that would be out of his comfort zone.
He enrolled at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus to begin that educational career change and earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology.
Now he is pursuing a second Associate of Applied Science degree from TSTC, this time in Welding Technology.
The first-semester student said the program has been a riveting experience.
“When you analyze the instructors’ welds, it is challenging to replicate it,” he said. “It takes years of practice, experience and applying it to proper applications.”
He added that there is an art and a science to the industry’s detailed work.
“The (art) is the person being able to envision their plan and utilize their brain to do what it takes to achieve an end result,” he said. “The (science) portion is what angles to use on our cuts, which welding process we use, and how we best utilize our equipment for the best outcome.”
Raul Saldivar, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor, wants his students to think beyond their scope. If a student intends to be successful in the industry, they need to master complex lessons.
He said Escalon is fascinated with theory and process.
“He consistently inquires for feedback, while other students often are afraid to ask questions,” he said.
TSTC offers a Welding Technology Associate of Applied Science degree, Structural Welding and Structural and Pipe Welding certificates of completion, and a Basic Welding – Multiple Processes occupational skills award.
According to onetonline.org, the number of welders in Texas is projected to grow by 13% through 2028. Welders can earn an average annual salary of $45,250 in the state.
Welding Technology is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. If participating graduates do not find a job in their field within six months of getting their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.
Registration for the spring semester is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.