Columbus County native Alex Edwards, a 2017 graduate of South Columbus High School, had his “first taste” of welding in Future Farmers of America and on his family farm. His love for repair work and being outdoors propelled him from being a student at Southeastern Community College to becoming its newest welding instructor.
Edwards entered SCC as a transfer student with the intention of completing his prerequisites and going to N.C. State University to pursue agriculture. However, those plans changed after a year at SCC, when his path took him in the welding direction.
“I had a change of mind with my family background in welding and fabrication, and I was wanting to fall into like a generational thing,” Edwards said. “So, I started welding after my first year and fell in love with it. I love being able to build stuff and see it last and stand for years and years at a time.”
Edwards explained that he officially graduated from SCC in May 2020 but had completed all his welding coursework and internship in 2019. After leaving SCC, Edwards entered the workforce at Full Throttle Fabrication in Whiteville. With a year of field experience under his belt, Edwards made the move to Powell’s Tire and Axle in Loris to work as the lead welder.
Edwards left Powell’s Tire and Axle for seven months to work at Columbus Correctional Institution. After dipping his toes in law enforcement, Edwards finally realized that welding is what he wanted to do.
“I went back to Powell’s and finished out my work time there before coming here to Southeastern to teach,” Edwards said. “Welding itself is fine, but showing other people how to do it is something I enjoy.”
Edwards explained that he found out about the welding instructor position at SCC from his previous welding instructor, Paul Starnes. He went through the application and interview process and started on Aug. 1.
Edwards’ favorite part of being an instructor is “bringing the environment back to when I was here.” He enjoys getting to know the students, them getting to know him and building up their knowledge of welding.
“Because this is something I’ve always loved to do,” Edwards said. “I love showing people how to weld, be proficient at it and get them a nice job like they want.”
Edwards is the first instructor to teach out of SCC’s welding mobile lab. For the fall 2023 semester, the mobile lab travels to East Columbus Jr./Sr. High School and South Columbus High School. While on the SCC campus, Edwards teaches a certification class to Columbus Career and College Academy students.
Edwards’ classes are Career and College Promise classes that give high school students high school and college credits at the same time. Edwards said that he likes having students get that head start on their college career because he did not have access to it.
While not at work, Edwards enjoys the outdoors with hunting deer and ducks and fishing. He attends Old Cribbtown Church with his wife and their two kids.