Ethan Rix is ready to enter the workforce, and it shows. The Paducah Tilghman High School senior already has one certification in welding, was a member of a region champion fabrication team and holds a job when not in school.

Rix is this week’s Associated General Contractors of West Kentucky Technical Center Student of the Week.

Rix is in his third year in the welding program, having spent the first two years in the Paducah Area Technical Center and this year at the new Paducah Innovation Hub.

His welding experience includes several different types of welding, including shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, oxy-fuel cutting and plasma arc cutting.

Rix and other Paducah students formed a fabrication team that took first place in the Skills USA regional competition, but were unable to compete at the state level because of COVID-19.

Rix took second place last year in the SkillsUSA leadership competition in job skills demonstration.

Last year, he earned an American Welding Society 2F certification. After school, you can find him working at Finish Line Car Wash in Paducah.

“I started off (taking classes) in auto body (at the Paducah Area Technical Center), and I realized that auto body wasn’t for me,” he said. “My uncle suggested that I try welding, and I tried it my sophomore year, and been doing it ever since.

“I enjoy being able to put two pieces of metal together — there’s nothing else like it. It’s like art, really.”

Rix said he would like to join a Millwright Union Local 1080 in Paducah. He plans to make a career of welding.

“I think that would be a good start for me,” he said. “I believe that (getting further training and certification) would definitely be an option. I do know that in the Millwrights, you can get your associate’s degree through college.”

Rix is the son of Scott and Jennifer Rix of Paducah. Brandon Wilber is his welding instructor at the Paducah Innovation Hub.

A story featuring the AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Student of the Week will run in The Paducah Sun each Friday through April 30 with recipients chosen by instructors and administrators at the seven area technical centers that serve students in the state’s 13 westernmost counties.

In addition to the Paducah Innovation Hub, this year’s 29 AGC of Western Kentucky Technical Center Students of the Week are chosen from the Ballard County Career and Technical Center, Caldwell Regional Career Center, Four Rivers Career Academy in Fulton County, Marshall County Technical Center, Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center and the Murray-Calloway County Area Technology Center.

At the area technical centers, students are learning skills in areas such as welding, automotive technology, carpentry, machine tool technology, electricity and industrial maintenance that will help them join the workforce upon graduation and help fill the need for skilled workers in the area.

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