TSTC Welding Technology student sets foundation for future automotive business

HARLINGEN — Texas State Technical College student Ricardo Flores is in pursuit of an entrepreneurial goal: to establish an automotive restoration and modification shop.

The Harlingen resident is aligning that path through an education at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

“I earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology from TSTC in 2021,” Flores said. “Now I am pursuing a certificate of completion in Structural Welding. Then I plan to pursue a certificate of completion in Advanced Pipe Specialization in the same program. It is needed for my business. In the last phase, I will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.”

Ricardo Flores, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus, plans to open his own automotive restoration and modification shop someday. (Courtesy: Texas State Technical College/TSTC)

Flores’ interest in the automotive industry was piqued through his mother, who is a former classic Mustang car club member.

“(She) used to showcase her 2004 Mustang GT,” Flores said. “That was my first introduction into entrepreneurship and classic vehicles.”

Flores’ business idea came to him during his second semester in the Automotive Technology program.

“I have always been that type of person to resolve automotive issues on my own,” he said. “I figured, why not learn everything I can and spruce up vehicles?”

The fabrication side of the Welding Technology program was what enticed him to enroll in it.

“I enjoy it because you have to make parts that do not exist,” he said. “That is what I will need to do long term for my business.”

Flores said the skills that he has gained at TSTC will transition well to his future business venture.

“I can resolve vehicle issues through diagnostics,” he said. “I can also correct the wiring throughout a vehicle. I can restore an old engine to a brand-new capacity. As for structural welding, I can build frames for older vehicles.”

Raul Saldivar, a TSTC Welding instructor, said Flores has the drive to elevate his learning potential.

“I am impressed by his curiosity,” Saldivar said. “(He) attempts different techniques to improve his welds and always inquires for feedback.”

According to onetonline.org, welders can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,000 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 fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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