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CTE's Welding Program to Expand

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for welders is projected to grow 8 percent by 2030. New construction, transportation projects, and pipelines for natural gas are all contributing factors to the growing demand for skilled welders.

Because of the immense interest in the profession, Donna ISD is making big strides to expand the district’s welding program and support it with the latest technology and equipment. Earlier this year, the district, in partnership with Vanguard Academy and Raymondville ISD, submitted a proposal to the Texas Workforce Commission seeking funding from the Texas Regional Pathways Network (TRPN). The proposal yielded a grant in the amount of $272,292 that was awarded to Donna ISD.

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Department, which the welding program falls under, could not be more proud. "Donna ISD and our CTE Department strive to expand opportunities for students to explore their interests and develop their skills while still in high school,” CTE Director David Moreno said. “Thank you to the Texas Workforce Commission for their commitment in supporting our district and awarding Donna ISD's welding program this grant. It will allow our students the opportunity to expand their skill set and be able to be more competitive and marketable once they go out into the workforce."

The grant funding will be used to hire an additional welding instructor, allowing the district to add 24 more students to their program. The money will also go toward the purchase of state-of-the-art welding machines, track torch kits, PlasmaCAM cutting systems and other machinery.

DHS and DNHS students currently enrolled in the welding program were thrilled to hear of the expansion and new additions to the program. They plan to reenroll next year.

“I was really excited to find out we were getting new equipment,” DNHS welding student Bryan Salinas said. “We will be able to test and learn new things especially since technology is advancing rapidly. Personally, I want to learn as much as I can because it’s a good skill that you can use anywhere, like making your own projects.”

DNHS welding student Sergio Lara was also ecstatic to learn about the grant funding. “The new equipment and technology that we’re getting is advanced, which means new opportunities for learning,” Lara said. “I know a lot of jobs are going to have the new welding equipment that we’re going to have.”

DHS welding student Oscar Aguilar echoed his classmates’ sentiments. “We are excited for this grant because it will not only benefit us, but also future generations of Donna ISD welding students,” said Aguilar. “It will pave the way for more opportunities and more learning experiences.”

Because of their enthusiasm and interest, Salinas, Lara, Aguilar and DHS welding student Juan Buenrostro were chosen as ambassadors to help promote the new and enhanced program. “I was very excited and happy that my fellow classmates and I were chosen as ambassadors,” Buenrostro said. “I’m willing to do whatever we need to do to expand this welding program for those who want to join.”

CTE Director Moreno said the new equipment is expected to come in by the start of the upcoming school year. A teacher will also be hired by then. In addition to Texas Workforce Commission’s backing, Moreno also thanked the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, RGV LEAD and South Texas College for their support and guidance in helping Donna ISD’s welding students acquire the skills and credentials needed for economic advancement.