(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Sparks will fill Texas State Technical College’s welding labs next week in West Texas.

High school students will compete for scholarships during welding competitions at the college’s Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses. This is the second consecutive year that TSTC is hosting the scholarship competition.

“We are expecting 50 students at each competition,” said Chris Johnson, TSTC’s lead recruiter for the West Texas campuses. “These events are so important because it allows students to come on campus and see why our labs and equipment are state-of-the-art and see firsthand how great the skills are that they learn.”

The Breckenridge event will be Monday, Feb. 7, and will feature students from Bridgeport, Millsap, Mineral Wells, New Castle, Paradise, Springtown and Wichita Falls.

“It is very important to host these competitions because it gives the high school students options on where they would like to attend college,” said Stephen Hope, TSTC’s welding instructor in Breckenridge. “Also, having a competition where they can compete against one another allows them to win scholarship money that helps the tuition cost.” 

Brownwood’s event is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 9, with students from Bangs, Brookesmith, Brownwood, Coleman, Comanche, Early May, Panther Creek, Texas Leadership Charter Academy in San Angelo, and Three Way scheduled to compete.

Daniel Aguirre, TSTC’s welding instructor in Brownwood, said having the competition is the best way to promote the program to high school students.

“I think bringing the surrounding high schools to campus lets them see the possibilities that could be in their future,” he said. “We can give them a hands-on, firsthand view of what this welding course entails. Welding is fun. It’s gratifying. And this welding competition lets them experience just that.”

On Friday, Feb. 11, the Sweetwater welding lab will host students from Big Spring, De Leon, Garden City, Loraine, Midland Greenwood, Presidio, Rolling Plains Technical School, and Roscoe.

“We had a lot of success during last year’s event with three competitors enrolling in the program,” said Taylor Elston, Sweetwater’s welding instructor. “I hope we continue to build on the competition each year because it is an event where we can showcase our program.”

Aguirre agrees with Elston’s view of building the event.

“The welding competition is like a live brochure for the welding program. It lets students come in and physically see what it’s like to take this course, and gives them a chance to mingle with like-minded individuals,” he said. “I think it’s fun for those of us involved, and I think it’s fun for the community.”

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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