Jose Araiza Jr.; Jason Compean; Michael Leal; Lourdes Portugal

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education program recently held a graduation ceremony for its third cohort of welding students.

Eight students embraced the challenging eight-week training program. Each individual earned a Maritime Welding Level 1 certificate from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) under the direction of TSTC Workforce Training Welding instructor Samuel Grimaldo.

“Congratulations to everyone for completing this program,” Grimaldo told the graduates. “I am glad each of you remained consistent. Now it is time to graduate and start your new career.”

The training was conducted in partnership with the Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing Hub, a collaboration of two of the state’s top engineering agencies, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

The program’s classes were held in the Workforce Training mobile welding trailer outside Port Isabel High School.

Graduates of the program’s third cohort are Jose Araiza Jr., of Brownsville, Texas; David Camargo, of Mission, Texas; Jason Compean, of Weslaco, Texas; Daniel Cruz, of San Benito, Texas; Marco Antonio Galvan, of Brownsville, Texas; Michael Leal, of Harlingen, Texas; Lourdes Portugal, of Brownsville, Texas; and Justin William Robertson, of Brownsville, Texas.

Compean said he enjoyed learning the various types of welds.

“I was introduced to welding years ago in high school,” he said. “Then I stepped away from it. One of my close friends mentioned this program, so I decided to enroll. The most challenging part was learning how to do a vertical weld. I eventually got the hang of it.”

Leal said his primary purpose was to obtain his NCCER certification.

“I really dislike stick welding,” he said. “It was challenging. I knew I had to master it. Welding requires great patience, and our instructor, (Samuel) Grimaldo, is an excellent teacher.”

Myra De Leon, TSTC’s executive director for Workforce Training and Continuing Education, commended the graduating class on their accomplishment.

“This program lasted seven to eight weeks,” she said. “Now you are graduating with your maritime welding certification.”

Prior to the ceremony, Portugal reflected on her experience in the program.

“That first week, I noticed it was going to be really hard,” she said. “I wanted to give up. I knew I could not do that. Eventually I got the hang of it, thanks to our instructor.”

Katherine Diaz, regional ecosystem director for the Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing Hub, praised the efforts.

“Texas A&M celebrates this educational milestone with the students and is proud to have supported this program to help them launch new careers in manufacturing,” she said.

Cledia Hernandez, TSTC’s associate vice chancellor for External Relations and Workforce Development, said TSTC has worked closely with the Port of Brownsville, the employers located in that region, and the Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing Hub to ensure that TSTC provides highly skilled individuals and delivers customized training to meet their needs.

“Working together to get that training closer to their site was important,” she said.

A major focus of the Hub is to increase the availability of a skilled workforce in the Rio Grande Valley region. This focus aligns with TSTC’s mission of strengthening the Texas workforce and placing its graduates in good-paying jobs.

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