December 6, 2021 at 1:46 pm Derrick Stuckly
Austin Barnhart has set a goal for his life.
The Brownwood native is studying Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College with a purpose. He wants to help others, as well as his younger brother.
Barnhart suffered from Chiari I malformation, a brain disorder, after discovering that he could not feel the strings on his guitar. In 2020 he had corrective surgery, and his outlook on life changed.
“I want to work as a welder for two or three years and save my money,” he said. “My goal is to become a radiology technician so I can help people who need help. I want them to be treated well.”
Barnhart said he researched the cost and length of becoming a technician. Working as a welder for a few years would help him achieve his dream of entering the medical field.
“It is a one-year program to become a technician, and I know the money I make from welding will help pay for that education,” he said.
That is not the only reason that Barnhart is working toward a certificate of completion.
“I am also going to save money so I can pay for my little brother to go to college,” he said. “I do not want him to worry about school when he gets to be my age.”
Barnhart said when his goals are achieved, he will have a sense of accomplishment.
“It will be great to have a trade to work with while I also pursue other interests,” he said.
Welding instructor Daniel Aguirre sees Barnhart’s passion each time he comes to the lab.
“He has such a big heart, and that is why he is working so hard for others,” Aguirre said. “That is great for a person to do, and I am proud to be helping him reach his dream.”
Barnhart spent his sophomore and junior years in high school welding, but immediately noticed a difference in the methods and his performance at TSTC.
“This is a whole different ball game,” he said. “In high school, we learned a lot of the basics. Here, Daniel teaches us everything.”
Barnhart said he was surprised by what he has learned during his first semester and is already finding out it pays off at home.
“I am going home and fixing things around the house,” he said. “It is all thanks to what I have learned at TSTC.”
Barnhart said his second semester will be more challenging.
“I will be learning more of the aluminum style of welding,” he said. “I know that will be more difficult, but it will actually help me at work. We have aluminum carts that are falling apart, and when I know how to weld aluminum, I plan to fix them.”
Aguirre said Barnhart has picked up his pace on projects.
“His progress since the beginning of the semester is outstanding,” he said. “He is going to be a great welder, but an even better person.”
Barnhart said welding was not his first choice. But after looking into the program, he knew it would be a good fit.
“I wanted to go into diesel mechanics, but I decided welding would be a good way to stay close to home,” he said. “TSTC offers a great hands-on learning experience, and I learn better by working with my hands.”
According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $45,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase 13% by 2028 in the state, according to the website.
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas.
Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to welding students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months of graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.
Registration for the spring semester at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.