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(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Welders are naturally competitive.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology instructor Stephen Hope decided to use a competition to promote the program and offer scholarships. High school students from New Castle and Trent competed on March 24 for a chance to win a welding scholarship.

On March 31, the competition will continue with high school students from Breckenridge, Rochester, and Seymour, with each student welding a 6-by-6-inch cube. The top three students who earn the highest scores will receive scholarships for TSTC’s Welding Technology program in Breckenridge. Each of the 17 competitors will receive a gift from TSTC.

TSTC will announce scholarship recipients on March 31.

“Our goal was to get more exposure to our program and to have some fun,” Hope said. “When we first started talking about doing a competition, we knew it would be a good way to get more kids into our facility.”

During the competition, everyone followed coronavirus safety protocols, and only five of the welding bays were used. The March 31 event will be divided into two sessions to ensure safety.

The students worked for up to two hours to make their cubes. Once the cubes were complete, Hope checked them for leaks, which accounted for the majority of points. TSTC Welding instructors Daniel Aguirre and Greg Nicholas then checked the cubes for clean welds, spatter removal, how they fit together, and quality.

At the end of the first day of the competition, Hope said he was pleased with the students’ efforts.

“The quality was really good for these students. I was really pleased with what I saw them accomplish,” he said.

Hope said the competition was initially scheduled to be held virtually. But after additional discussion, it was decided that allowing a certain number of students to come to campus would help promote the program.

“The most important thing was to get the students here and use the equipment,” said Chris Johnson, TSTC’s lead student recruitment representative for West Texas. “Using the equipment and seeing what we offer shows everyone why we are so special. It is also cool for the students.”

Raquel Mata, TSTC’s associate provost in West Texas, said it gave students the chance to meet instructors.

“The students were able to talk to our instructors, and we added the element of a competition,” she said. “Welders are known for their competitiveness, and we wanted to offer a fun event.”

A similar competition is scheduled for April 12 in Brownwood.

“This will be a great chance for me and the other instructors to talk to students about what we offer,” Aguirre said. “I am excited to see what the response will be like.”

For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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