STC Welding students can now hit the job market with a valuable industry-recognized credential
South Texas College has become one of just six Accredited Testing Facilities (ATFs) in Texas designated by the American Welding Society (AWS) to administer tests qualifying welders for employment. STC celebrated the new designation at a special ribbon cutting Nov. 10.
Welding students at South Texas College are now able to earn a prestigious industry credential that will set them apart from their peers as they enter the job market, according to leaders within STC’s Business, Public Safety and Technology (BPST) Division.
At a special ribbon-cutting held Nov. 10, STC officially became one of just six Accredited Testing Facilities (ATFs) in Texas, and only the second accredited facility at a college in the state designated by the American Welding Society (AWS).
The designation, which certifies STC to administer tests qualifying welders for employment, was the result of a successful inspection by AWS auditors in late September. There are only 168 AWS-approved testing sites in the entire country.
South Texas College officially kicked off testing for students with the ribbon-cutting, and testing began at approximately 1 p.m. in the afternoon.
Headquartered in Miami, Florida, and led by a volunteer organization of officers and directors, AWS serves over 70,000 members worldwide and is composed of 22 Districts with 250 Sections and student chapters.
STC has now begun testing its 350 traditional students, and will administer the exams over the next few weeks. Once the students have successfully passed their certification test they will receive a card from AWS and their name will be added to the list in the National Registry of Welders.
Not only will STC be providing certifications for traditional students, the college will be opening its doors for the community starting January 2021.
“What we have been doing up until now has been all the preparation for administering the test, (and) making sure we have enough material for testing because the requirements are very specific,” said BPST Dean Sara Lozano. “We have to have designated equipment and material used only for testing, and the kickoff was really the culmination of several months of planning and preparation that allowed us to begin this week.
“This certification takes students to the next level in the skills and experience that they are receiving within the Welding Program so when they go out into the workforce, they have a valued certification that is recognized globally on top of the educational experience they received."
“For every one of those students who take the test and pass, their information gets sent to AWS for certification,” Lozano said. “This certification takes students to the next level in the skills and experience that they are receiving within the Welding Program so when they go out into the workforce, they have a valued certification that is recognized globally on top of the educational experience they received.
“If they have passed these certifications, they can work just about anywhere,” Lozano said. “It really opens more doors of opportunities for our students.”
At least two years in the making, faculty at STC began preparing for the designation by receiving instructor certifications over the summer, an accomplishment made much more difficult by the start of a global pandemic.
Despite challenges, welding faculty member Richard Ingram received an exclusive designation as a Certified Welding Instructor (CWI) by AWS, and is now among the 90,000 CWIs around the world to receive the designation.
“We are ready to start testing and qualifying welders,” Ingram said. “What does this mean for the community? STC will be producing and qualifying their students according to national standards. This will allow students to be more marketable in the workforce and secure those good paying jobs.
“We are excited to see where our students will be in the next upcoming years,” Ingram said.