Gregory-Portland ISD Unveiled New Welding Lab Designed and Built by College Faculty

Article by: Melinda Eddleman

This week marked the new school year for many independent school districts across the Coastal Bend. For 30 Gregory-Portland High School students, starting school on Aug. 25 also meant becoming the first cohort to start a new dual credit program on their high school campus offered by Del Mar College –– welding.

This fall, these students will start “firing up their futures” to get a head start on their career training in the field.

The high school’s former Agriculture Shop has been transformed into a welding lab that features 16 booths housing state-of-the-art equipment. Refurbishing the 5,000 square foot facility and adding the training equipment cost $200,000 and was covered by Gregory-Portland Independent School District.

Today, Aug. 28, Del Mar College and Gregory-Portland Independent School District officials revealed the new facility during a news conference at the high school.

Dr. Paul Clore, Gregory-Portland ISD Superintendent, said, “This facility and the new dual credit program are unique expansions for Gregory-Portland ISD, providing our students access to career opportunities by preparing them for industries coming into the area.” 

Samuel Kinstley, a 17-year-old G-P High School students who plans to attend Del Mar College when he graduates to continue his welding studies, fired up a torch to perform a shielded metal arch weld to inaugurate the new instructional facility. Click on the video to see Kinstley and other highlights of the event:



“Del Mar College is delighted to team up with Gregory-Portland ISD to provide quality college-level instruction not only to their new welding students but also to all of Gregory-Portland students participating with our dual credit initiatives,” said Dr. Mark Escamilla, DMC President. “For these 30 welding students, current and future employment needs among port, oil and gas and military manufacturing industries reinforce the demand for highly skilled workers in this field.”

The welding lab is certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The welding lab was designed and built by DMC Welding Program faculty noted Domingo “Sonny” Vela, associate professor of welding, before the news conference. Those faculty members included Vela, Juan Diaz, Mario Hernandez and Odie Reyes.

“This project had been a dream of ours for quite some time, and we envisioned a facility that would translate into the same type of instructional space that we offer at the College,” he said, adding: “The size of the facility is smaller, but the advanced technology is there.”

The College is offering two classes––one morning and one afternoon–– each day. Adjunct instructor Raymond Vasquez, a 2010 DMC welding graduate who earned his associate’s degree and has worked in the refinery industry, is teaching the classes this fall. If students take math and English, along with their welding courses, they can complete 24 credit hours over the next two years to earn a DMC Intermediate Certificate in welding.

“These students will earn a college certificate and their high school diploma at the same time,” Vela said. “They can then transfer to take courses toward their advanced certificate and then their associate’s degree through the College’s welding program on our West Campus.”

Vasquez added, “Students will learn the basics as they work toward their first certificate, including learning about the tools used, how to use them, safety measures and how to identify which welding process to use, such as the tungsten inert gas, metal inert gas and shielded metal arch welding processes.” 

Of the dual credit partnership between G-P ISD and the College, Barbara Cade, the school district’s high school principal, says, “Providing a wide variety of options for high school students allows us to meet the needs of all kids at G-P High School. We’re obligated to work out as many pathways as possible to meet students’ post secondary goals. The strong partnership between G-P High School and Del Mar College provides a promise to students that we can help them fulfill their dreams. We are incredibly proud of the progress we have made in this area.”

IN THE PHOTO: Gregory-Portland High School student Samuel Kinstley performs a shielded metal arch weld during the Aug. 28 news conference to unveil the new welding lab at the school as part of the dual credit partnership between Del Mar College and Gregory-Portland ISD.

View a photo gallery of the news conference and unveiling by clicking here.

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