(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The semitrailer pulls forward and reverses under the midmorning sun before pulling forward again. And reversing. Again.
Paul Hildebrandt, a Texas State Technical College workforce trainer for the Fort Bend County campus, watches, shielded with a bucket hat and shades.
“Do it again!” he calls, and the student behind the wheel, training to earn his commercial driver’s license, complies.
The student was at the point in the 160-hour, four-week training of mastering their backing skills: straight-line backing, left and right offset backing, and left and right parallel parking.
Yes, parallel parking. In a semitrailer.
“I tell all my students, trust the process,” Hildebrandt said with a nod to drivers not behind the wheel of a semitrailer struggling with parallel parking. “If you have a process and you follow and understand the process, you will have success.”
A student does not have to be a parallel parking expert before coming into the program.
“I think anybody can be successful,” Hildebrandt said. “I think it’s the person that gives it their all, that asks questions. They’re not afraid to say, ‘Hey, I don’t understand something.’ Those are successful students.”
At the end of the program awaits a certificate of completion from TSTC and a commercial driver’s license that opens up multiple avenues, depending on what a student wants to do. Some want to go over the road — hauling freight over long distances — and some want to stay local, like a recent student of Hildebrandt’s who is driving a belly dump truck for a nearby construction company.
Others, like the TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology students who have the opportunity to earn their commercial driver’s licenses during their training, do so in pursuit of future career growth.
“My goal is to put out a quality driver,” Hildebrandt said. “I want them to understand the process. I want them to think about what it takes to be a safe driver.”
Hildebrandt wants companies to know that students who come out of the training program at TSTC are the kinds of drivers that employers should want.
“We’re going to give it 100% to make every student successful and to make them not only a quality driver, but a safe driver — there’s a difference,” he said. “That’s my goal: To put everybody out of here with the mindset of being safe. Trust us with your needs. Trust us, and let us prove to you what we can do to help better your people.”
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.