New training station at TSTC brings greater opportunity for welding program

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Built from the ground up by Texas State Technical College Welding Technology instructors and students, the program has a new pipe fitting training station for its Advanced Layout and Fabrication course.

The course, taken during a student’s third semester in the program, focuses on layout design, build and processes, blueprint reading and pipe fitting.

“This pipe fitting station takes our program and this course to the next level,” said TSTC lead Welding Technology instructor Ramiro Villarreal. “This carries our program forward, allows us to grow and produce well-rounded graduates that are in demand in our industry.”

Longtime TSTC Welding Technology instructor Kenny Moore said this new training station, which took six to eight weeks to build, allows the program to stay in the forefront of advanced welding training.

“This is a great opportunity for students looking to train with a top welding program right in their backyard,” said Moore. “It’s advancements like this that keep our program on top. And for the growth in industry that we’re seeing in our region, it’s important that our students and graduates learn the latest and greatest.”TSTC Welding Tech pipe fitting station

Villarreal has been working closely with TSTC administration and leadership in creating and maintaining relationships with two industrial facilities located in the Port of Brownsville: Keppel AmFELS, a leader in mobile drilling rig, platform and container vessel construction, refurbishment and repair; and Texas LNG, a liquefied natural gas facility.

Both companies seek and hire skilled welders, solders and pipefitters for their facilities, and with major projects on the horizon their demand for these positions is expected to increase.

“While we’ve always trained in pipe welding and fitting, it’s now more important than ever that we emphasize its processes and ensure that our students have the basic knowledge they need to hit the ground running and find successful careers with either these companies or others like them,” said Villarreal.”

The Advanced Layout and Fabrication course is 15 weeks and is available to all Welding Technology students pursuing a certificate 1, certificate 2 or associate degree.

Villarreal and Moore said this new training station goes beyond technical skill training, it also provides soft skills such as teamwork, communication, quality control and leadership.

“Throughout the semester students will work in teams to complete projects using the new station,” said Moore. “And every week a new team lead is chosen to give everyone project management experience. Nowadays you need more than technical skills to get hired and we want our students to be prepared.”

With the new pipe fitting station, Villarreal said Welding Technology will be able to provide continuing education training in the future for Keppal AmFELS, Texas LNG and other companies around the Rio Grande Valley.

“What we have built not only allows us to train our students, but industry professionals who want a refresher or to learn something new,” said Villarreal. “We have built a number of opportunities for everyone.”

Last year TSTC’s Welding Technology program in Harlingen was ranked number 7 in the nation by Washington Monthly, in part because of its 96 percent job placement rate.

Graduates from the program learn the fundamentals of welding such as metal arc welding, multiple process welding, welding automation and welding codes, standards and safety, and can work as welders, cutter, solders, brazers, pipe fitters, and brazing machine setters, operators and tenders for manufacturing shops, ship building yards, oil fields, and maintenance shops.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment of welders is projected to grow six percent, in response to the nation’s aging infrastructure. The 2018 median pay for a welder was more than $40,000 a year.

Welding Technology is offered at all TSTC campuses.

For more information, visit tstc.edu.