Section's Big Gift Brightens Welding's Future

The American Welding Society and the AWS Foundation announced June 13 that the Lou DeFreitas $60,000 scholarship fund, endowed by the Santa Clara Valley Section, will enable the foundation to award $3,000 in scholarships to welding students in the section annually. This is the largest original section-endowed scholarship in the society's history.

The Santa Clara Valley Section is responsible for the awards process, including setting the criteria for the grants and selecting the awardees. "We are honored that our Santa Clara Valley Section has committed their time and funds to establish this significant scholarship and assist AWS in our mission to help aspiring welders become trained," said Sam Gentry, the foundation's executive director. "In addition, with this endowment, this section celebrates a man who is a true inspiration to the current and future welders of this country. Louis DeFreitas made significant contributions to the welding industry, not only as a published author and teacher, but also as a mentor, role model, and an active volunteer member of the American Welding Society."

DeFreitas learned welding at a Massachusetts vocational high school and later became a professor and chairman of the Welding Technology Department at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, Calif, where he taught more than 3,000 students and graduated more than 350 with B.S. and engineering degrees, AWS said. Since its inception in 1989, the foundation has awarded some $3.4 million to nearly 2,200 students seeking careers in welding and allied processes. Its most significant scholarship fund, the Ronald C. and Joyce Pierce Mobile Section Named Scholarship, was established by a $50,000 initial sponsorship. "With only four section-named scholarships in existence, this group has become a model for other sections in the AWS family to follow and demonstrates the power that exists at the section level," Gentry said. "Our sections' efforts not only drive this widespread and dynamic industry forward, but also help to solve a critical skills shortage across the country by providing for the recruitment, mentoring, and career development of welding students."

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