(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Weston Conine was surprised to see a familiar face when he walked into the Welding Technology lab at Texas State Technical College’s Brownwood campus.
Conine, of Comanche, recognized instructor Salvador Marquez, who was a Comanche High School classmate. Conine said he was more relaxed knowing that Marquez would help him during class as he works on his certificate of completion.
“It made it easier for me to come to class,” he said. “Sal has made me feel more relaxed and able to communicate better with everyone. He has made learning the different welding techniques easier.”
Marquez said that once he and Conine recognized each other, they were able to reconnect.
“We were a couple of years apart, but it was good to see the Comanche connection in class,” he said.
That reconnection was a few years in the making. Conine said he went to four-year college but found it was not what he wanted to do.
“I decided to come back to the area and go to TSTC,” he said. “I did some welding in high school and liked it. I know there is more money in welding and most jobs are set at your own pace.”
He learned pacing is important in the welding industry.
“You can go as fast as you want to on a project, but you do not want to overdo it,” he said. “You do not want the welds to look sloppy.”
Conine said he likes that he and his classmates are able to interact with one another and get help from Marquez and their other instructor, Daniel Aguirre.
“With our class, the instructors have time to work with each student,” he said.
One thing that the instructors work to make sure students learn correctly is tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.
“I did not have the chance to learn TIG welding until I started at TSTC,” Conine said. “Sal had experience in TIG welding and showed us some of the best techniques.”
Conine said TSTC provides the best education for a welding career, and he knows the reason why.
“The hands-on experience you will get in the lab is the best way to learn,” he said. “You also will get support from everyone because they want you to be successful.”
Marquez said Conine is always ahead in his work and makes sure that it is completed correctly.
“He has a great work ethic, and it shows in his projects,” he said. “It has a lot to do with his character and work ethic. He is one of the students that finishes early because he works hard on his projects.”
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $48,000 in Texas. The number of welding jobs was expected to increase 23% between 2020 and 2030 in the state, according to the website.
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas. 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, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit tstc.edu/mbg.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.