The sun blared down on the handful of students as they envisioned their finished masterpieces and worked towards eventually bringing those mental images to life. Despite their excitement, the students worked with caution. Determining how much and where they should cut had to be perfect. One wrong step, and all of the work poured into constructing that one piece would be for nothing. After all, the most important parts of welding are precision, safety, and skill.
Dripping Springs High School’s welding course is open to all students and according to them, it is definitely a class to take if you want to go beyond what any DSHS art class could offer. The class is run by Calen Mcnett, the current Welding and Auto Tech teacher and is located in the Agriculture building. The process begins with Intro to Welding and after its completion results in a student’s placement in to the Advanced Welding class.
“The students learn all the safety regulations before they begin learning how to use the tools,” Mcnett said. “Then [the students] discover how to put those tools to use. From there, students can go on to build their own projects.”
Juniors Daniel Lawson and Mitchell Cragle are in the middle of building a twenty-six foot trailer while senior Caleb Beach is constructing a piece of artwork that Mcnett has said to be simply amazing. But, with such high rewards come some very high risks. All the students in the Advanced Welding class, as these three are, run the financial risk of losing about four thousand dollars worth of tools and materials should something go wrong.
Mcnett said, “not only are they just learning to weld, they are going into the entrepreneurial and business side” of being a welder.
Welding is a tediously planned and highly delicate task. Every step must be carefully calculated in order to avoid mistakes and/or the destruction of what the student(s) may be building. The blueprints and measurements must be figured out before any welding may take place. This requires diligence and patience. However, the most important trait to possess is a passion which will overpower all concerns one might have about spending mass amounts of time on a single project.
“What makes me passionate about welding is all of the places it can take you,” Beach said. “There are so many opportunities within the field.”
Welding is not just about the joining together of two metal pieces, though that may be its common definition. Aspiring welders will call it an art form, an exciting hobby, and even a dream job. All the students highly recommend the class to anyone interested in working with their hands or trying new things.
“If art class isn’t exactly what you want and you are interested in creating bigger and better pieces, come to welding,” Cragle said.
Beach, who is taking his welding hobby to the next level and pursuing the past time as a career says, “welding is great for outside of high school too. It can give you a lot of experience and good times which can eventually help you with tough life decisions, like what to do in the future.”
To these students, welding is a class that builds one’s mental skill, level of patience, entrepreneurial skills, and provides individuals with a freedom to explore all forms of art.