Joshua Mueller – mrWF Work Ethic Scholarship
Joshua Mueller is one of those guys that always knew what he wanted to do, and right out of high school he made plans to do it. Josh wanted to become a Mechanical Engineer. His plan was to do his core classes at a local community college then transfer to a university for his degree. This would cut tuition costs by more than half. It was a good plan until he got to Old Dominion University.
“It just didn’t click,” Josh said. The math involved was more complicated than he’d thought, so Josh reevaluated. His mother knew that Josh enjoyed drawing blueprints so she suggested he pursue Design and Drafting. Josh agreed and a new plan emerged. After two semesters, he left Old Dominion to attend Tidewater Community College.
Things were going well at Tidewater. With only one semester to go before receiving his Associates Degree in Applied Science with a specialization in Design and Drafting for Mechanical Engineering Technology, (Good luck fitting that on a business card) Josh’s adviser informed him he needed to complete one technical elective class to graduate. The adviser suggested welding. Josh replied, “I don’t know what welding is.” What better way to find out then to take the class? And so, he did.
Josh recalled his first day welding, “The shop looked like a dimly lit dungeon. I was highly surprised by what we were about to do.” What Josh was about to do was stick weld, and from the moment he struck the arc, he was hooked, “It just clicked.” The plan shifted again. Josh continued to study welding, and four months later he was certified. What Josh couldn’t plan for was the economic downturn that peaked in 2010.
After searching for a year and unable to find work, Josh moved to Georgia to live with his brother, Nate. He hoped to find welding work there. That was in 2011.
By May of 2016 Josh was working full-time in a retail store having never been employed as either a Welder or Designer. It had happened slowly. His responsibilities with his retail job kept growing and his plan to find welding work kept shrinking. Inertia had set in.
One night, Josh and Nate were watching TV when Josh started lamenting the fact that he wasn’t welding. Six years had gone by in a flash and Josh wasn’t using the skill he had acquired. Not only that, he wasn’t confident in his skill anymore. Nate reminded him that it wasn’t too late. He could go back to school and brush up on his welding. Nate told him about the Work Ethic Scholarship Program. Josh was a big fan of Mike Rowe’s but he had no idea such a thing existed. Josh immediately went to his computer and discovered that there were only two weeks left to apply for the 2016 program. He made a pact with Nate that he would work tirelessly to get his application in by the deadline, and if accepted he would go back to school and give it all he had.
This plan turned out to be a winner. In April 2017 Josh graduated from the Georgia Trade School and immediately found work as a Welder with Aero Bridgeworks. They build, repair, and modify passenger boarding bridges in airports from coast to coast. This keeps Josh traveling a lot and he couldn’t be happier. Josh still lives with Nate, but they hardly see each other – except at airports – Nate is a pilot for United.