Man in red shirt standing in welding shop

(ABILENE, Texas) – Cooper Wallin’s passion to become the best Welding Technology student has caught the attention of his Texas State Technical College instructors.

“When Cooper started, he was not a strong welder. Today, I can say he is one of the strongest welders in his class,” said Greg Nicholas, a Welding Technology instructor at TSTC’s Abilene campus. “His heart is in everything he does in class.”

Taylor Elston, also a Welding Technology instructor, said he sees Wallin’s passion as well.

“He always shows up when we have our open labs just so he can improve his skills,” he said. “He is here the entire eight hours working on his welding techniques.”

Wallin, a native of Tarzan in Martin County, admitted that he did not have much welding experience when he began studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree. That has not stopped him from working daily to become better.

“I did some research and found out welding would be a good career,” he said. “I found TSTC and thought it was a good fit for me.”

Learning from TSTC’s instructors has shown Wallin that he has more to learn.

“Coming in, I knew the basics. I quickly learned that I did not know as much as I thought I did,” he said.

Wallin has learned that many welding techniques are challenging.

“It takes repetition to make you a better welder,” he said. “That is why I like to come in during the open labs. The more I work on a technique, the better I become. I have seen improvements in my welding from the time I have started school.”

Wallin said he plans to return to the Permian Basin to work on oil pipelines.

“There are jobs on the West Texas pipelines everywhere,” he said. “I know after earning my degree I will be able to find a good-paying job.”

Wallin has one long-range goal for his life.

“One day, I do want to be able to open my own business and use everything I have learned at TSTC,” he said.

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

For more information about TSTC, visit

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