(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s aviation maintenance program draws students for different reasons.
At Abilene’s campus, TSTC offers Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology, allowing students to choose a path into the industry. Many students have jobs lined up before they graduate, and that has become a factor in many students’ decisions to enroll in the program.
In observance of National Aviation Day on Saturday, Aug. 19, students recently discussed their experiences in the program. National Aviation Day was established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to honor the birthday of aviation legend Orville Wright.
James Tyler, of Abilene, is attending classes at TSTC and is one of several students working for Eagle Aviation in Abilene.
“It is a good experience for me because I can take what I learn in class and apply it at work,” he said. “I can also take what I learn at Eagle and use it in class.”
Ross Jones, an aviation maintenance instructor at TSTC’s Abilene campus, said the partnership with Eagle Aviation has helped the program grow each year.
“It is one of our major selling points to students because they will be able to walk out with a degree and not travel far for their career,” he said. “Eagle is important for us because they keep us updated on what is happening with the industry.”
Abner Romero, who is originally from Puerto Rico and now lives in Abilene, said being part of TSTC’s dual enrollment aviation classes led him to enroll full time to pursue his Associate of Applied Science degree in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.
“I found the program interesting while in high school,” he said. “I learned the basics of the airplane in my dual enrollment classes, but I wanted to have a better understanding of how the planes operated. I wanted to learn it all.”
Romero has long been surrounded with aviation discussions at home because his father works for Eagle Aviation.
“My dad would always tell me stories about what was happening at the airport,” Romero said. “I thought it would be something I would like to do as well.”
Josh Gonzalez, of Arizona, said he wanted to study aviation at TSTC after touring the hangar and talking to instructors.
“The instructors walked me through the hangar and detailed what I will be able to learn,” he said. “I have always enjoyed learning how things operate and knew that this was a good career path.”
The students said the best part of the program is learning from qualified instructors who are in the hangar daily, showing them how to improve.
“They have a lot of experience in the field and share their stories with us,” Gonzalez said., “We are going to be ready for our career because they are providing us with the knowledge to be successful.”
The need for aircraft mechanics and service technicians in Texas was forecast to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030, according to onetonline.org. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $67,680, the website stated.
TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.
Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.