Texas High School Training the Next Generation of Welders
Mexia High School welding students enjoy hands-on experience with Miller® equipment and training resources.
Preparing students with real-world experience
With so many enticing career options available today, it’s harder to get students interested in pursuing careers in welding; however, Mexia High School in Texas, a school of roughly 2,000 students just northeast of Waco, has been making great strides in this area.
Their welding program, led by welding instructor Corey Shaw, has been using Miller products to make their students’ in-class experience both engaging and relevant as they make career decisions and head into the workforce. The equipment has been invaluable in giving Mexia students experience on the type of tools they will use as they enter into careers as welders.
Celia Drews, Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement and Learning, explained that, “It’s one thing to train students how to weld, but it’s something very different to prepare them for the real world with the types of skills they need to step right into a job after school,” said Celia.
“Our welding program is truly an eyeopener for students. Welding is not an easy job, but our welding students learn the value of hard work, good work ethic, persistence, perseverance, respect, timeliness, and communication – all the skills that will help them make it in today’s welding workforce,” said Celia.
Students are given numerous opportunities for real-world, hands-on experience with various projects throughout the school year; especially, with the school’s animal barn where students can make repairs to the gates, fences, and other necessary items that need mending, teaching them the value of hard work. And it couldn’t be done without use of Miller’s machines. “We have been using Miller products for many years,” added Shaw. “They’re easy to use and reliable.” Plus, with the use of OpenBook™, Miller’s free online learning management system, Shaw and other instructors are able to develop and integrate meaningful curriculum into their training.
Training to meet community demand
Drews explained that their programs, like welding, are developed around real needs in their community. In fact, one of the criteria for receiving a recent grant for their program was to demonstrate the need for entry-level welders in their area.
To prepare students for the workforce, Mexia High School offers a dual-credit course that allows students to earn college credits while still in high school. Until recently, they have been teaching only the core curriculum at the high school then bussing students to nearby Waco for their college credits. However, with the grant they were recently awarded, it will allow them to bring that all in house.
Starting to generate interest early
Mexia starts talking with students as early as 8th grade about technical careers to develop interest in programs like welding. They send both instructors and students from the high school to the middle school to talk to students about what it’s like to be in the welding program. They also host a career day where local companies and representatives come talk to students about what careers are important today, including welding.
Once students enter high school and choose their education path, they are exposed again in their entry-level Career Tech Ed (CTE) course where they get a sampling of a variety of career options. This is where they get to practice on machines like the Miller® Multimatic® 255 to get a realistic understanding of what it’s like to have a career in welding.
Miller products have changed the game
Equipment used in programs like Mexia’s are so important for shaping our next generation of welders. Younger generations are always looking for what’s new and are so accustomed to technology in every aspect of their lives. Shaw shared, “The Miller Multimatic® 255 welders are amazing. And the digital readout is a gamechanger.”
Drews added, “If we want to attract the next generation and make it an attractive career option, we want to make sure they are learning firsthand on updated equipment so they go right into the work world prepared.” Drews continued, “They’re not learning on antiquated equipment and then need more training once they get hired. They finish the welding program here and can immediately go into a job that provides good benefits and even pays for college.”
A solid relationship for a successful program
Having the right relationship can make all the difference in a successful program. “Our relationship with Miller has been a real partnership,” said Shaw. “We work with a local distributor and working with them is very easy. They are reliable and we try to keep business in the community if possible. I’m grateful we have the program and our Miller sales representative has been great to work with. The relationship has been really good.”