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BISD students forge new future in welding

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Fab Lab is a 501-C3 non-profit in Downtown El Paso that aims to provide accessible educational experiences for students and professionals to support the development of more ingenious and resourceful products.
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BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Homer Hanna Early College High School senior Adan Valdez walked into the Texas Southmost College welding labs nervous, yet hopeful, about passing his American Welding Society (AWS) certification exam.

“My dad is a welder and I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” said Valdez. “I went into the exam nervous, but determined to concentrate and focus on my welding. I want to make my parents proud.”

He was one of nearly 60 Brownsville Independent School District welding students who were the first to take this nationally recognized certification exam at TSC over a two-day period.

“Welding is a cornerstone program for any community or technical college,” said TSC Associate Vice President of Workforce Training Joseph Fleishman, Ph.D. “But what sets us apart is not only our state-of-the-art labs or equipment, but that we can provide this national certification exam to our students, school districts and industry. This is part of what makes TSC a destination for workforce training.”

With TSC’s investment in AWS standard equipment, the college is becoming the go-to testing location for the region and students like Valdez.

An AWS certification provides a credential that can be used wherever a welder works. The certified welder exam tests student’s knowledge of procedures and weld quality used in structural steel, petroleum pipelines, sheet metal and chemical refinery welding industries.

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To ensure welds are to AWS standards, the weld is inspected and approved by an AWS Certified Welding Inspector and at TSC that is Matt Richard.  

Lopez Early College High School Agriculture Mechanics teacher Richard Alaniz said when he heard TSC was introducing a welding program and its ability to administer an AWS certifying exam, they were excited knowing that this made it possible for their students to take their skills to a new level locally.

In the past, high school welding students had to go to larger cities like Houston for testing.

“Because of TSC’s welding program, our students can now stay in Brownsville and receive a quality education,” he said. “It’s a huge benefit to have this kind of opportunity available to our students because the labs and equipment they get to train on is a step above what they get in high school, and we’re excited that our students testing for certification are all interested in pursuing their welding education here at TSC.”

TSC, as an official AWS Welding Testing Center, is able to serve all local school districts and industry in the region.

“Everyone needs certified welders,” said Fleishman. “We are diligently working to train and certify students to continue meeting industry demand for highly-skilled welders.”

As for Valdez, he achieved what he intended to do. The 18-year-old passed his weld inspection and earned his AWS Welding Certification.

“Passing this and being here with other welding students, networking with TSC instructors and using the amazing labs, equipment and tools TSC provides is nothing less than exciting,” he said. “This is a dream come true and will allow me to continue working towards my goals.”   

Valdez plans on enrolling in TSC’s Welding program in the fall.

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