2023 CTE Month Feature 1: Applied Agricultural Engineering

Editor’s Note: February is Career and Technical Education Month, a public awareness campaign to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country. To help Sulphur Springs High School celebrate CTE Month 2023, KSST has compiled short videos featuring a few of the CTE programs offered at SSHS.

Students interested in applied agricultural engineering can take Stephen Shelby’s Ag Equipment Design & Ag Structure Facilities classes.

Prior to taking to job for SSISD, Shelby worked out in West Texas.

Working construction, the Ag instructor received a call from John Clemons, instructor at the PJC welding school, and got an offer to teach the subject at SSHS along with other Ag teachers John Holland and Lindsey Arthur.

The Ag instructor at the high school took welding in high school, but when the then-22 year-old learned welders made a significant wage, even on the low-end experience-wise, he made the call to switch to welding. Shelby said in three years he went from inexperienced, helping out, to being able to weld and doing anything and everything that the job requires.

“It’s just been something that changed my life, it gave me something that I could always fall back on. It’s a trade. There’s always a demand for it, and it’s just been a big blessing to be able to have something like that…” Shelby said.

Some things the CTE-featured program offer include:

  • MIG (wire-feed welding) with a gas shield
  • 6011 and 7018 stick welding
    • Shelby stresses that this skill can be particularly useful down the road for welders

The welding instructor this year has been wokring with students on what he calls “The plate test.” Shelby said in this one puts a back strip, bevels two pieces of plate, welding it up and cutting the strip of that plate. They then put it in the bender in the shop, bending the strips and as a result seeing if the weld passes or fails.

The welding instructor stressed both to KSST, as well as middle school students in SSISD on recruiting visits, that what Shelby and his program do in the Ag shop will always be important.

SSISD instructor Stephen Shelby, as well as SSHS students Tate Bradford, Garrett Tubb and Jose Flores all speak on the CTE featured program in an interview with KSST.

“You’ll always need a farmer, you’ll always need a welder… you’ll always need someone, somewhere to build a power plant. Those are the kinds of things that I think set our program apart,” Shelby said, “…you want a job that there’s gonna be a demand for. Whether its college-educated or not, and you want to always be able to find work. And anything that we do basically in our Ag department at the school, especially in our welding shop, are those kinds of skills that can carry people through their life.”

SSHS students Garrett Tubb, Tate Bradford, and Jose Flores are all enrolled in Shelby’s classes.

Tubb took interest in welding living on a farm, and desired to further his education in welding and agriculture mechanics so he took Shelby’s class. Bradford said his dad was into welding when he was in high school, and early on though Tate would enjoy the subject so he tried it out and shortly thereafter enrolled in the program.

Flores said something similar to Tubb, in that he grew up around animals, working on a ranch, building fences, so the SSHS student said animals and welding work hand-in-hand together. Flores said he leans more toward metal work.

Bradford said earlier this week he learned of the CTE featured program coming out of eighth grade.

He received the paperwork, seeing Ag Mechanics and Welding on the list and signed right up.

Coursework includes anything from vet sciences, welding, woodworking, building benches and other little projects, up to large projects like building a trailer. Bradford said depending on which subject a student is interested in decides which field of study they focus on.

All three students in their interview with KSST said they recommend the CTE featured program if agriculture, mechanics, or a combination of the two interest any interested students.

Bradford said the program has taught him so much. Learning how to work well, lead and work as a team on projects, and how to work hard are all things the students said they have learned in their time in Stephen Shelby’s program.

Students in these classes can also potentially work toward an industry based certification, called the AWS (or American Welder Society).

When students like Bradofrd, Tate and Flores graduate, they not only get course credit for graduating, but also the certification which says students have taken the test and have been instructed by a certified instructor.

Be sure to stay tuned to KSST Radio 1230 and Suddenlink Channel 18, check out www.KSSTradio.com,the KSST Radio 1230 AM YouTube Channel and other KSST social media accounts to ensure you don’t miss these 2023 CTE features. Just watch for the “2023 CTE” heading throughout the month.

If you missed the kickoff, be sure to click the link below to catch up:

Kick Off Event: Sulphur Springs High School Kicks Off CTE Month 2023 With Mayoral Proclamation

Author: Ross LaBenske

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