New to the classroom: Harlingen welder, business owner welcomed to TSC as welding instructor

As a welder for 22 years, Guadalupe Gonzales has worked throughout California and Texas, never imagining himself in a classroom as an instructor, but Texas Southmost College has changed that for the Harlingen business owner, who was recently welcomed as the college’s newest welding instructor.

Although his classroom is rows of welding stations instead of the traditional rows of desks, the concept of teaching and changing lives remains the same, and his goal is to share his knowledge and experience to ensure his students are workforce ready.

“I started welding as a hobby when I discovered automotive restoration and metal work as a kid,” said the 39-year-old. “Who knew that a bond my dad and I shared would become a career and that now I have the chance to train future welders.”

Gonzales learned the trade while on the job. He started his welding career in California at 17 years old welding and constructing spiral staircases for commercial and residential buildings in California, Arizona and Las Vegas.

“I was fortunate to start where I did,” he said. “I learned and grew so much during that time.”

After five years of welding all things creative, Gonzales was laid off due to the recession, but continued to find work with general contractors and integrated self-employment.

But at the end of his 12th year in California, he was ready to return to Texas and his family, finding work at the Port of Brownsville building and welding barges and other large structures and eventually opening his welding business in Harlingen – Coastal Iron Studio.

“There is always something creative to design and weld for clients and always something new in this industry, which is what I enjoy the most about being a welder,” said Gonzales. “I also teach workshops, and this is where I realized that teaching could be an opportunity for me.”

So, with much motivation from his family, he applied for TSC’s welding instructor position and to his surprise he was offered the job.

TSC Director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education for Construction and Manufacturing Thomas Tynan said he was initially impressed with the experience and creativity in welding that Gonzales brought to the table.

“He may have been self-taught and gained most of his experience on the job, but he is advanced in his field and the creativity he brings from welding things like spiral staircases, rails and gates is going to take our program and its students to a new level,” he said. “He’s a great addition to our team and has an expansive set of knowledge to share.”

In addition to his welding skills, Gonzales is working toward becoming a certified welding inspector, a qualification that will allow him to certify welders at TSC’s welding testing center.

And although TSC was immediately impressed with Gonzales’ skills, it was TSC’s new state-of-the-art welding lab that impressed him.

“Coming into TSC, I was immediately impressed with the lab and its set up. I have never seen anything like it and I’ve worked throughout a couple of states,” he said. “From the first time I saw it, I knew this is where I had to teach.”

Gonzales added, “TSC’s program is growing, and I am excited to be part of that growth. My goal is to help others fall in love with the industry and become successful welders. If I can do that, then that’ll be the most rewarding thing.”

For more information about TSC’s Welding program, visit