Mn holding guitar wearing a welding hood

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Will Dempsey has two passions: music and welding.

When Dempsey, a longtime fan of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Metallica, learned that Texas State Technical College would offer scholarships through the Metallica Scholars Initiative (MSI), he jumped at the chance to apply. The scholarship that he received will help him enhance his skills in Welding Technology.

“I think it is great that Metallica is giving back to us as students,” Dempsey said. “Receiving the scholarship would give me the opportunity to put my two interests of music and welding together.”

Dempsey first picked up a welding torch as a junior at Sweetwater High School. While he had planned to attend TSTC to study welding, he found the teaching style easy to adapt to while also learning different techniques.

“The instructors are super helpful, and this program is set at a perfect pace,” he said. “I like that I can come in here and get my projects done, and feel comfortable about turning them in to the instructors.”

Dempsey is already looking forward to his second semester, when he will begin studying tungsten inert gas (TIG) techniques.

“That is something we did not do much of in high school,” he said. “I think it will be interesting to learn how to do TIG welding. I know it is something I will have to know in order to work in the industry.”

While Dempsey is relatively new to the welding trade, his love for music dates back further.

“Back in sixth grade was when we had to choose our elective, and the choices were choir, art and band,” he said. “I chose band — and to play the trombone, just because it looked funny. I later picked up a guitar and have been playing it for eight years.”

Dempsey said he hopes to combine his two loves after he graduates in 2024.

“I plan to move to a bigger city to begin a music career and do some welding,” he said. 

Nathan Oliver, a Welding Technology instructor at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, said Dempsey will be successful as a welder.

“He is very careful with what he turns in,” Oliver said of Dempsey’s class projects. “He is going to make sure it is right because he knows what quality is all about.”

MSI was launched in 2019 by All Within My Hands in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). MSI supports 42 community colleges across 33 states. By the end of this year, it will have helped more than 6,000 students pursuing careers in the trades.

According to, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $48,000 in Texas. Welding jobs were expected to increase 23% between 2020 and 2030 in the state, according to the website.

Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to participating students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, then they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit

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