CTE Month: STC Alumni Welding Instructors Teaching Tricks of the Trade
STC welding instructors, Jose Garza (left) and Baldemar Garcia are teaching tricks of the welding trade to current and dual enrollment students sharing that higher education is the "trick” to establishing their skills for a growing industry.
STC welding student Jay P. Sandoval in action welding a steel product and is expected to graduate Summer 2022 with a Welding Associate of Applied Science.
Teaching “tricks” of the trade by welding instructors, Baldemar Garcia and Jose Garza is what is going to make the next generation of welders successful in the trade.
Two STC alumni with a background in pipeline and refinery welding are teaching the next generation of welders that work ethic and education is necessary for the growing industry.
Growing up in the Valley, Garcia and Garza were able to see the financial impact it had on them, but more importantly the development it did for them.
Baldemar Garcia opted for trade school which led him to construction and soon the pipeline and refinery industries taking him from west Texas to Wyoming.
In 2013 he enrolled in STC’s welding program to perfect those industry skills.
“The program looked like something I could do and wanted to go through for myself,” said Garcia. “And from there it opened up so many venues with work.”
Garcia earned his Welding Associate of Applied Science four years later while working his way up as a welding helper to a rig welder in the pipeline and refinery business. Today he is guiding students as a lecturer among 21 other welding instructors instilling higher education.
“I always tell my students ‘What’s another six months compared to years down the line when you’re working in the field with no education?’,” he advises. “You have nothing to lose, you just have a lot to gain, and you picked up a new trade skill!”
For Jose Garza, his welding experience lands in refinery – the process of repair, installation, and extension of pipes and structural components. After completing his combination certificate in 2012, Garcia landed his first job with Brownsville's Keppel AmFELS as a structural fitter. He worked five years building off-shore oil rigs on the Port of Brownsville and returned to STC for his associate and to educate others - a new skill he learned on the job when being the go-to mentor.
“It fell into place really, I was a helper first and became that individual where the news guys would shadow me,” shares Garza. “When I made all my rounds as a helper pocketing new skills from the top welders, I then applied what I learned and eventually became one of the top performers and I grew to love teaching others.”
Garza believes work ethic is just as important as education for a skilled welder to move ahead.
Knowing that there is a high demand for educated welders in the Valley, the instructors share prime examples of where the trade can lead one to.
“These jobs with Brownsville’s Space X, the Borderwall and the Port of Brownsville have got to be fulfilled and the technology is moving forward,” said Garza. “But these companies are wanting to see the education back up the individual’s skills which is going to push them ahead as well.”
The program teaches four main types of industry welding: MIG (Gas Metal Arc Welding), TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), Stick (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), and Flux-cored (Flux-cored Arc Welding). Students will learn the basics of fabrication which is the blueprint of a product to operating lab equipment and making industry standard products.
Students in the welding program have also amounted to contributions for local law enforcement and government entities.
“The U.S. Marshall brought in a breach door that needed repairing which served as a simulation for them to practice on break-ins,” said Garcia. “Edinburg P.D. also brought in their SWAT truck where students rebuilt the inside.”
“Learning how to measure, cut, grind and erect raw material into a steel product is what students are learning and have done,” added Garza.
While CTE (Career and Technical Education) dedicates its recognition to the month of February, it is becoming a growing industry for welding student Jay P. Sandoval who mirrors his instructors' teachings.
“They help you prepare for real-world skills in the welding industry,” said the double major. “And STC has made it really easy to start on my feet in preparing me for that.”
Sandoval is expected to complete his welding associate this summer and pursue a bachelor’s in business to open his own welding company.
“If you really want to work on a profession, go to STC to work on your trade skills and keep going don’t give up,” said Sandoval.
Baldemar Garcia owns and operates a successful construction company, a long-term goal he has had while Jose Garza instills work ethic-a skill needed for any trade.
To learn more about STC’s Welding Certificates and Associate of Applied Science in Welding, visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/welding/ .