Roosbel Sanchez, a sophomore at La Joya High School, celebrated the first-place win with his classmates after an Agriculture and Industrial Welding competition recently hosted at the welding lab and American Welding Society testing site at Texas Southmost College.
TSC’s Welding AWS testing site is the only one of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley and supports local and statewide industries with weld certification testing.
Nearly 200 welding students from across the Rio Grande Valley gathered at the site to test their skills and showcase their welding talents during the competition, and for Sanchez, his practice and preparation paid off.
“I did not expect to win anything,” said the 16-year-old. “I came here to challenge myself, test my skills and create a learning experience, but I’m not hating coming in first. It was a great surprise.”
The sophomore began his welding journey only last year but said welding is something he’s had his eyes set on since he was small and for him, like for many of the students competing, welding is a career possibility, so gaining this experience is invaluable.
“I want this to open up other opportunities for me,” said Sanchez. “This is a foot in the door in a career that can be successful, and I can’t wait to see where I go from here.”
The competition consisted of agriculture and industrial welding categories, with each competitive weld test taking about an hour for each student.
Students were then judged on their weld accuracies, consistencies, and cleanliness, each being a deciding factor for first through fifth place.
TSC Director of Construction and Manufacturing for Workforce Training and Continuing Education Thomas Tynan said teaching and giving the future generation of welders this opportunity is instrumental in their success and future careers.
“Not many high school students will get this kind of opportunity, in a center like this,” said Tynan. “To be able to give them the chance to showcase their skills, instruct them, see them work past their nerves, build their confidence and get a job done is a proud moment for us and their teachers. We hope to continue hosting events like this in the future because they make all the difference.”
Alexa De La O, a junior at Palmview High School, is in her first year of welding, something she has wanted to do since childhood watching her dad weld in the evenings and weekends.
“It’s exciting to have the chance to weld, just like my dad,” said De La O. “I was nervous about competing but realized that everyone was here to help us learn and become better. It’s great that TSC is hosting this…it’s a great way to get like-minded people together and help us experience new things.”
For more information about TSC’s Welding program or to schedule a tour or testing date, visit tsc.edu/wtce or call 956-295-3724.