STC Foundation partners with local industry for first student welding competition
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Maricela Ramirez (top) competes in the first ever welding competition hosted by the South Texas College Foundation at STC’s Technology campus Thursday. Made possible through the support of McAllen Economic Development Corporation and industry partner CL Scales and Systems, the event was created to reinforce STC Foundation's spirit of teamwork and innovation.
The South Texas College Foundation welcomes its first ever welding contest showcasing students' skills and creativity while fostering collaboration and friendly competition.
Hosted by the STC Foundation and made possible through the support of McAllen Economic Development Corporation and industry partner CL Scales and Systems, the event was created to reinforce STC Foundation's spirit of teamwork and innovation.
Winners of the competition were Jose Medrano in first place, Maya Viehland in second place and Hector Martinez in third.
Daniel Castillo, founder of CL Scales and Systems said he was inspired to reach out to students after noticing a lack of younger students in industry, and then reached out to McAllen Economic Development Corporation and South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IAM) for a way to reach out to potential students.
Castillo said the initial idea for the competition evolved into a way to showcase the caliber of STC students to other potential companies and who are poised to enter the workforce. Castillo donated $5,000 to the STC Foundation to kick-off the first of a series of student competitions.
South Texas College is thrilled to host the first ever welding contest, in partnership with industry and our students to showcase the talent they bring to our region. It is extremely important to be able to afford these opportunities for our students as they are the next generation of critical key industry workforce for the Rio Grande Valley.
“South Texas College is thrilled to host the first ever welding contest, in partnership with industry and our students to showcase the talent they bring to our region,” said Rodney Rodriguez, Ph.D., STC vice president of Institutional Advancement and Economic Development, who joined STC in 2022 with the goal to establish the foundation as one of his top priorities. “It is extremely important to be able to afford these opportunities for our students as they are the next generation of critical key industry workforce for the Rio Grande Valley.”
In its pursuit of innovation and growth, STC has established a new Foundation and Foundation Board to raise scholarship funds to help students get an affordable education. The mission of the newly formed foundation is to raise funds to support student educational endeavors by means of grants and private donations.
Organizers of the welding competition say that by combining the strengths and resources of South Texas College Foundation, the college can leverage diverse events and scholarships for students.
“The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness about welding as a viable career option. It showcases the importance and versatility of welding, inspiring more students to consider pursuing a career in this field,” said Luisa Rodriguez, STC Global Market Development manager who helped organized the competition. “By empowering and inspiring young welders, we can offer them a platform to showcase their skills, learn, network, and pursue rewarding careers in the welding industry.”
For the competition, nine students were tasked with welding one inch steel and piping using a schematic developed by faculty at STC. The project was a multi-step process which combined elements of flux-core welding, shielded metal arc welding as well as torch cutting, according to STC welding faculty.
“This has been a collaborative event,” said STC Welding Department Chair Hector Cavazos. “The project they are competing with is something that has real-life practical applications of everything they can do in the industry, from the airfields in Brownsville or on the pipelines out in west Texas. Additionally reading the schematics and blueprint for the project tells them which weld goes where and that way they can pace themselves to get it done.”
Among the nine students who competed, three were from STC’s Continuing Education Welding program.
STC’s Continuing Education courses are short-term programs that allow students and/or industry professionals to reskill or upskill for better job opportunities.
“Continuing Education is grateful that our students were invited to be part of this competition to showcase their welding skills,” said STC Director of Continuing Education Oliva De La Rosa. “The three students who participated were eager to put their skills on display and demonstrate how much they have learned in such a short amount of time. Regardless of the outcome, we felt it was important for our students to participate so they could show others that even a short-term training program can help them gain valuable skills.”
Welding student, Maya Viehland, said she jumped at the chance to compete, especially as a female in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“This has been a great experience. It’s something I have never done before. I enjoy welding and I want to do it as a career,” said Viehland, who is pursuing an associate degree in Combination Welding. “I have been welding for two and a half years and it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life. I know what I am doing so I just jumped at the chance to compete.”
CL Systems founder Castillo said that after working for 20 years in industry, it has been his dream to find ways to retain talent and bring opportunities to students.
“I want to thank and express my gratitude to everyone who made this project possible including McAllen EDC, Rice Lake Weighting Systems and South Texas College. Hopefully this is one of many in the future,” Castillo said. “I’d like to ensure companies like Rice Lake see the talent and potential of students from our community who acquired tailored skills through programs like these at the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing.”
For more information on the programs offered through STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing or Continuing Education, visit www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/iam.html or www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/.