(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is quickly becoming home to state-level welding competitions.
The Texas FFA Area IV held its inaugural applied agricultural engineering career development event at TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene earlier this month. Organizers said TSTC will continue to host the event on an annual basis.
“This is the ideal place for us to host the event,” said Dustin Moore with Jim Ned Consolidated Independent School District. “We knew it would have a professional feel for our students. TSTC has the best facilities for a competition of this caliber.”
TSTC Welding Technology instructor Greg Nicholas said the Abilene welding lab has enjoyed successfully hosting events this year.
“These events are the key factor in the recruiting process,” he said. “This allows everyone to see our facilities, talk to instructors and see what we have to offer.”
Nicholas said hosting the event on an annual basis will help build additional partnerships.
“It was a huge opportunity for us to host this event,” he said. “It will really give us the chance to build on the relationships we are making with the teachers and students. The more everyone learns about our program through these events, the more relationships will grow.”
Caleb Gamblin, of Bangs ISD, said having the event at TSTC will offer students additional benefits.
“We were blown away with the facility and the professionalism of the instructors,” he said. “It also gives our students an opportunity to experience a technical school and visit with those who know the field.”
Fifty-two students competed in the event, which included reading blueprints, taking a test, and then cutting and welding metal that was judged by Scott Wallermann, a certified welding inspector.
Daniel Martin, TSTC’s director of student recruitment in West Texas, said the event is another opportunity to showcase the Abilene program.
“This is a great opportunity to form another partnership, not only with agricultural science teachers, but Texas FFA,” he said. “This is a unique contest because it follows the FFA guidelines and is the first of its kind.”
Martin said having a first-time event happen at TSTC was rewarding.
“We are proud to be part of a historic event and hope we are able to foster our partnership in the years to come,” he said. “We also look forward to creating more opportunities for our area schools with unique events.”
The top three teams advanced to the state competition scheduled for later this year in Huntsville. Decatur ISD won the team title, followed by Jim Ned CSID and Aledo ISD. Other FFA chapters represented at the Area IV contest were from Abilene, Bangs, Boyd, Burkburnett, Comanche, Knox City, Newcastle, Three Way and Wichita Falls school districts.
Decatur’s Dalton Edgar finished with the top individual score. He was followed by Andy Andrews, of Jim Ned, Antony Salas, of Decatur, Logan Dalton, of Aledo, and Christian Hobel, of Jim Ned.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.