Get to Know José Montes, WMP’s 2023 Spark for the Future Scholarship Winner

Aug 10, 2023 | Community Engagement

At Woven Metal Products (WMP), we’re living out our brand promise of partnership and embracing collaboration through Woven Together, our community engagement program. Each year, we award the Spark for the Future Scholarship to a Houston-area student who is pursuing higher education and instruction in welding and related metal-working specializations. The $1,000 award can be used toward tuition at vocational and accreditation programs, as well as two- and four-year undergraduate programs. This year’s winner, José Montes, is a New Caney, Texas, native. He attends Royalty Welding Academy in Houston. Read on for more about his story.

Russell Hillenburg, president of WMP, presents Jose with the Spark for the Future scholarship and a gift bag from WMP.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. I’m 24 years old, and I’m from New Caney, Texas. I graduated from New Caney High School in 2018, and after high school, I went from job to job trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. I always came back to thinking about a career in welding. Right now, I work at Jiffy Lube as a technician while I’m going to welding school at Royalty Welding Academy in Houston.

Meet José Montes, the 2023 Spark for the Future scholarship winner. Photo courtesy of José Montes.

2. How did you become interested in welding? I was in an agricultural shop class in high school, where we learned metal and woodworking. We built everything from hauling trailers and rocking chairs to a barbeque pit and deer feeders. Back in 2019, I was working as a laborer in the oil fields building water and oil tanks in West Texas. I’d always see these materials coming in and thought to myself, “I could make that as a welder.” I feel like you can be really successful in this industry.

3. Tell us about welding training. What’s it like? I just started at Royalty Welding Academy this summer, and it’s a six- to eight-month program to get my certification. A friend recommended it to me, as they do a lot of one-on-one training, and they’ll help you find your first job. I’m currently studying tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, and I really like it because it’s more challenging. It requires a more detailed technique than other kinds of welding.

José practices TIG welding on a pipe during training. Photo courtesy of José Montes.

4. What do you plan to do once you have your welding certification? I’ll look to get hired on with a fabrication shop and get some good experience. I’ve got a new baby on the way in November, so I’ll be looking for a job that allows me to best support my family.

5. What are your future goals as a welder? One day, I’d like to open my own fabrication shop and become one of the best in Houston. I know I’ll have to work really hard and stay dedicated, but I have really big goals for myself and will do anything to reach them.

6. What would you tell other students considering training in welding? For anybody that’s looking to get into this field, go for it. It’s never too late. It may get tough, but don’t give up.

Beno Konaraki, VP of Production for WMP, gives José a tour of the fabrication shop.

Applications for the 2024 Spark for the Future award will open in January 2024. For more information, visit