Retired Alcoa millwright enjoys teaching trade to VC students

VC offers five levels of millwrights courses

VICTORIA, Texas – Ismael Rodriguez, a retired Alcoa millwright, enjoys teaching trade to Victoria College students. Rodriguez was posed a familiar question during his five years as a millwright instructor for VC.

“There are some who come to this class not knowing what a millwright really does,” said Rodriguez, who worked as a millwright at Alcoa for 20 years. “When they ask, I tell them a millwright is basically a general mechanic. But when you say ‘mechanic,’ people automatically think you’re talking about an auto mechanic.”

What do millwrights do?

Although millwrights do work on motors, they are not the type found under the hood of an automobile. The majority of millwrights work at construction sites, chemical processing plants, power plants, factories and other industrial settings. Job duties include installing and repairing industrial machinery and transferring machinery to needed locations.

“Millwrights do mostly construction-type jobs,” Rodriguez said. “They work on changing and rebuilding pumps and motors. There is probably more mechanical knowledge required than in pipefitting and welding. We do use cutting torches, and the students learn how to cut different thicknesses.”

Mark Hernandez, of Placedo, was chosen for Dow Chemical Company’s U.S. Apprenticeship Program. Initially, Hernandez worked at Dow in operations and safety. He then decided to take up millwrighting and is currently a student in Rodriguez’s Level 5 class.

“Ismael has a lot of knowledge that he passes down to us,” Hernandez said. “The stuff I have learned in this class is stuff I now frequently do on the job.”

“Many of our students are already employed and are sent to the class to get the extra training they may need,” Rodriguez said. “Some students complete only a couple of levels and wind up getting a job.”

According to Rodriguez, he gets satisfaction from seeing his students take what they learn from his classes to the job site.

“I love teaching these classes,” Rodriguez said. “I enjoy it when I get to write a letter of recommendation for them to an employer.”

Victoria College offers five levels of millwright training for students. Upon successful completion of each level, students receive a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) certificate.

Requirements for millwright courses

You must successfully complete Victoria College’s Core Curriculum: Introductory Craft Skills course prior to attending a Level 1 class. You are not required to have a high school diploma or GED to take the millwright classes.

According to Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent, the median salary for a millwright is $47,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10 percent increase in demand for millwrights over the next five years.

You can fine more information on millwright and other industrial trades offerings at Victoria College by calling 361-573-3291. You can also visit