(SWEETWATER) – Gilberto Madrid of Presidio is lighting the fire for his career each day in a welding booth at Texas State Technical College.
“I liked the thought of being able to control metal and fuse it together to make it something that can support weight,” said Madrid, 20. “That has interested me for a couple of years now.”
Madrid earned dual credit hours while a student at Presidio High School and is scheduled to graduate from TSTC in August with a certificate in Structural Welding and is considering his work options. It is a path Presidio Independent School District education leaders hope other students will follow as they are armed with dual credit hours from TSTC.
This year, there have been 20 Presidio High School students taking dual credit courses from TSTC online in Culinary Arts, Digital Media Design and Medical Office Specialist, and in person with TSTC credentialed high school teachers in Business Management Technology and Welding Technology.
For PISD Superintendent Dennis McEntire, one of the goals is to give Presidio students every opportunity they can to achieve.
“We are open to any dual credit with TSTC,” he said. “The welding is the one we have had the most numbers in. We can work with TSTC on anything they can make available for the kids to work on. This is the future; this is Presidio. We absolutely bought into this. We have managed to build this into our budget and create a financial model to make it successful.”
Some of Presidio High School’s welding students recently visited TSTC to meet Welding Technology program instructors and work with equipment.
“This just gives them a taste to get them motivated and hopefully continue on with us,” said Taylor Elston, a TSTC in Sweetwater welding instructor. “It seems to be paying off with some of them.”
Elston said Sweetwater’s welding program attracts students from throughout West Texas and the Panhandle. He said the goal is for graduates to have a job, or a welding test for a job, waiting for them upon graduation. Elston said he and fellow welding instructor Frank Molini are starting to build relationships with employers in Brady, Early and Roscoe.
“We are looking at the market and what is available and places they would not mind living,” Elston said. “We will see what the companies are testing and we will help them practice for their test to get the job.”
PISD’s early college high school concept containing a technical college component began about seven years ago, McEntire said. The school district also partners with The University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa.
“We were able to put this into place about five years ago,” McEntire said. “It is 300 miles to UTPB and nearly than 400 miles to TSTC – so everything has to be done online and done at a distance. It took us a couple of years to convince the Texas Education Agency that it is viable. It has become a much more common occurrence.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.