(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Cale Otradovsky grew up riding in his family’s truck, eventually buying it from his mom around the age of 16.
However, it took him breaking it — and, according to him, “somewhat fixing it” — to discover his passion for diesel engines.
“After that, I said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” he said. “I love it.”
Otradovsky is finishing his first semester on his way to a certificate of completion in the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Texas State Technical College.
“All of this stuff we’re messing with now, it fascinates my brain,” he said. “I like it a lot.”
The hands-on experience in the diesel lab — and encouragement from instructors to tinker and troubleshoot on relevant equipment and components — has fueled Otradovsky’s and other students’ curiosity.
“He plays a huge part in active discussion, his comments are insightful, and he is not afraid to express his opinion to his peers based on his personal experiences,” TSTC diesel instructor Jose Reyna said of Otradovsky. “He also is not afraid to challenge me on my knowledge of certain questions he asks.”
Many of Otradovsky’s questions stem from his truck.
“He will start off by saying, ‘Mr. Reyna, let me pick your brain on something I’m experiencing right now with my truck,’” Reyna said.
Learning at TSTC has opened the doors to additional experiences for Otradovsky.
“I’ve made quite a few new friends here,” he said. “Friends turn into family.”
Otradovsky looks forward to a point in his career when he will be able to set his own hours, work for himself and earn a living — that is his dream job.
His instructor expects great things from Otradovsky in the future.
“I look forward to seeing this young man bloom into a professional diesel technician once he completes our program,” Reyna said. “I tell him all the time, ‘Continue being Cale.’”
Diesel specialists in Texas can earn an average annual salary of $49,810, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts those positions to grow by 14% in the state through 2028.
In Diesel Equipment Technology at its Fort Bend County campus, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and two certificates of completion, all with heavy truck specializations.
Because of the opportunities available for diesel specialists, TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program is part of the college’s Money-Back Guarantee. If a program graduate does not get hired in their field within six months of earning their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.
Registration for the spring semester at TSTC is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.