(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Artistry. A passion for perfection. The ability to restore a damaged vehicle to showroom condition. All are sought-after attributes found in the best automotive refinishers.
And Texas State Technical College student Edrick Cuevas wants to be one of the best.
The Port Isabel resident possesses an impressive talent for automotive refinishing that he developed at a young age.
He is building on that skill in the Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization program at TSTC.
“I used to perform small painting work on my grandfather’s vehicle when I was younger,” Cuevas said. “Then I grew a fascination for classic vehicles, and I hoped to continue that.”
Cuevas is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
Now in his third semester, Cuevas relies on his ingenuity to accomplish demanding class projects.
“My instructor (Jose Vasquez) challenges me,” he said. “During a class assignment, I volunteered to paint the roof on a vehicle in the automotive shop. Then I had to think of various ways to complete the task while being safe. I had to use a stepladder to keep my balance.”
Vasquez said Cuevas is a motivated student who quickly adapts to learning new skills.
“(He) is willing to try different techniques,” Vasquez added. “We work with different types of live projects and training props. That will allow Cuevas to excel in the industry.”
The program’s courses are giving Cuevas a well-rounded education.
“The final outcome of my painting gives me great satisfaction,” he said. “My program experience has been incredible. For example, the course ‘Collision Repair Estimating’ is stimulating because I learn more about the business side.”
Prior to enrolling at TSTC, Cuevas earned a certificate of completion in auto body repair from another educational institution.
“I accepted an auto body job, but then I struggled,” he said. “I did not have sufficient knowledge, and I left the industry.”
Cuevas decided to work full time for his brother’s shrimping business in their hometown.
“I worked with my brother for two years, but I realized it was not for me,” he said. “I performed online research and made the decision to return to college. I noticed that TSTC in Harlingen offered an Associate of Applied Science degree in their Auto Collision and Management Technology, so I applied.”
Cuevas plans to complete the program in December and would like to return to TSTC someday, but not as a student.
“I would like to return to TSTC as an auto collision instructor,” he said. “I want to share my passion for the industry.”
Automotive body and related repairers can make a yearly median salary of $46,390 in Texas, according to onetonline.org. The number of these jobs in the state is expected to increase 11% by 2028.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology, with specializations in repair and refinishing; certificates of completion in Auto Collision Refinishing, Auto Collision Repair, and Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization; and an occupational skills achievement award in Basic Auto Collision.