(MARSHALL, Texas) – The Automation and Controls Technology program at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus offers a path into numerous job sectors.
Automation and controls is a field that TSTC instructors Douglas Clark and Troy Powledge said many find difficult to understand, due to its broad scope, but is an industry that has endless job placement options.
“Pretty much everything goes through an automated process, even an apple,” Powledge said. “What we teach is all the control systems that it takes to do all that.”
Clark, lead instructor for the program, described the role of automation and controls in the creation of a plastic water bottle.
“It starts out as plastic pellets; we then have to make a bottle, many different-sized bottles,” he said. “There’s many lines running that make different-sized bottles. Then we also have to purify the water. Then the process goes where those two things come together. So along the way there are hundreds, if not hundreds and hundreds, of sensors and devices that control that process. And that’s what we teach.”
Clark and Powledge listed numerous other items that go through automated processes, such as fake rocks, packaged meals, and filters. An automatic car wash is yet another example of an automated process.
“If you enjoy computer programming, with the benefit of that program controlling an automated process, this is for you,” Clark said.
Due to the numerous processes that are automated, Clark said working in the industry means that every day is a new experience.
“Most of our graduates will be doing something different every day — it’s never the same thing,” he said. “It’s the same type of thing, but it’s not the same thing. You know, today we’re making widget A, tomorrow we’re making widget B.”
Both Clark and Powledge commented on the ability of program graduates to grow and earn increasing salaries within the industry. Clark cited an example of one student who, upon graduation, began an internship that transitioned into full-time employment.
“He left on a Friday making $22 an hour and came back on a Monday making $32 an hour,” he said.
According to onetonline.org, robotics technicians earn an average of $50,630 a year in Texas. These jobs were predicted to grow 12% between 2020 to 2030 in the state of Texas, according to the website.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automation and Controls Technology.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.