Welding sparks careers at Era High School
SPARKS FLY as Levi Escobedo guides a welding torch across a piece of steel, carefully making a bead rivaling a professional. As a sophomore at Era High School, Levi was already doing vertical up welds, the hardest to execute.
“Everything he is creating is going from a solid to a liquid and that liquid is wanting to run down,”
John Dunlap, welding teacher at EHS, explained. “If he doesn’t manipulate this and weave right, it’s going to run all over the place. This is tough welding.”
When a student walks into the welding class at EHS, they quickly realize this isn’t hobby welding. Through partnerships with local industries, the school has set up a professional experience that helps these students become certified welders.
“We try to have them industry-ready to go weld in the work-world by the time they’re a junior in high school,” John said. “We want them prepared to begin internships with industry partners that we have set up.”
The students first draw the projects on paper or through computer-aided design before they start cutting and welding.
Sophomore Carter Shaffer, whose father is a contract welder for the Dallas Zoo, sketched an elephant feeder and welded all the parts together himself. The hay dispenser will challenge the elephants, keeping their brains active while also mixing in some treats as a reward.
Sophomore Jacie Brown started making knives when she was in eighth grade and has already won two ribbons, including third place at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.
“I would love to continue making knives outside of high school,” said Jacie, who has given out the knives as gifts to family members.
Many of the designs start on a computer with exact measurements and specifications. Sophomore Hayden Jernigan demonstrated how the design software works, loaded the designs onto a thumb drive and plugged it into a plasma water table, which cuts the steel to the exact specifications, like a 3-D printer for welding.
The showpiece for Era’s welding program is the Track Torch Cutting Stand designed and built by junior McCray Swofford and Hayden. The table is specially designed to be raised and lowered and uses special paint that won’t melt under the intense heat of welding.
“I welded all of it together while Hayden would go cut parts for me,” McCray said. “We worked like an assembly line. There’s nothing else like it in the world.”
McCray wants to pursue a career in criminal justice, possibly becoming a police officer. He said he could also become a teacher and a coach so he could pass on his welding skills.
Whether they choose welding for a career or just for side projects, the skills they learn in the welding shop at Era High School will be invaluable for a lifetime. That includes computer-aided design, designing by hand, precise hand-eye coordination and patience, foresight and creativity.
And because Era High School is a CoServ Member, there’s CoServ electricity powering every weld. CoServ is proud to serve this school and many others as they prepare their students for their future careers.