DVHS welding program participates in first competition, student scores first place
Many Del Valle High School welding students competed in their first welding contest in February and recently competed at a second contest.
At the first competition, 18 students participated. DVHS was one of 31 other high schools attending. The match had four categories based on difficulty, with the Cardinals competing in the most difficult one.
One student who competed, junior Izaiah De La Paz, brought home first place in underwater welding. Izaiah earned a ticket to the American Welding Society spring educational conference and a dive token for a fully submerged underwater welding experience from The Ocean Corp, one of the leading underwater welding schools in the industry. He also secured a scholarship to the welding school.
Izaiah said he didn’t expect to receive the top spot, especially since it was his first time competing.
“I thought it was pretty cool because I didn't expect to get first. I just did it because it was there, and it seemed cool,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to the prizes.
Izaiah also participated in the welding competition held March 4. The students have been honing their welding skills in class to secure top spots at competitions, which lead to American Welding Society certifications.
Two students have already gotten certifications through the competitions.
“I take it very seriously. I want to make this program the best in the state,” welding instructor David Vega said. “ I teach them how to do all different types of welding. There are three basic processes: MIG, TIG, and stick welding. They practice all of them.”
David prepares students for competitions in earnest, as certifications gained at competitions can open doors to employment for students.
“I’m pretty confident most of these guys can get that certification because they've been practicing pretty much since the beginning of the year,” he said of the upcoming competition. “Some of these guys are really good at it.”
DVHS alumnus Hakim Badillo, class of 2022, spoke to the welding students about his experience in the CTE program and how it helped him get a job in the welding industry.
“It's not a controlled experience like this where you're flat or sideways. You might have to be upside down doing stuff, and it's great because I'm new to it, but I'm not completely new,” Hakim said. “I've had a bit of experience here, and I've had a bit of experience welding that type of material or that type of position and stuff like that, and it's helped me a lot. Honestly, this program has helped me move on to the job I have now.”
Izaiah hopes to follow in Hakim’s footsteps by getting into a welding job with the local plumbers and pipefitters union once he graduates. Izaiah said that the instructors, like David, also show them the possibilities of joining other trades, not just welding.
Both Hakim and Izaiah encouraged young students to explore the welding program once they got into high school.
“If you're in middle school looking to join the CTE program, either do welding or auto tech,” Izaiah said. “Because I feel like those two set you up with the best opportunities, and welding gets paid well. Welding is hard, but the more you go on with it, the easier it gets. I think it's cool.”