(HARLINGEN, Texas) – As Texas State Technical College student Ruben Lopez travels on U.S. Highway 77 to and from his hometown of Raymondville, he often sees a plethora of wind turbines.
His curiosity about the turbines was what inspired him to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
“I noticed there isn’t a road that leads to each structure,” Lopez said of the turbines. “I wondered what’s inside them and how they operate. I am looking for a job opportunity that would include both an intellectual component and a hands-on aspect. That led to me to enroll at TSTC.”
Lopez said professionalism and safety are emphasized in the program.
“The instructors hold each student to a high standard and treat us like professional wind technicians,” he said. “In instructor (Eutiquio) Calderon’s class, he emphasizes safety. For example, a popped fuse on a breadboard is equal to being injured on the job. That cannot happen. The purpose is to be diligent and avoid carelessness.”
Lopez said the program’s hands-on training has been beneficial.
“My education has been phenomenal because the instructors implement real-world experiences,” he said. “In the Basic Fluid Power course, we use schematics to build a circuit for an intended purpose. That can pertain to operating a hydraulic press or a motor that controls processes in a manufacturing plant. I enjoyed it because it creates a broad range of manufacturing job opportunities.”
As Lopez’s educational journey continues, the skills he learns can lead him to a fruitful career.
“Aside from becoming an entry-level wind turbine technician, another profession I have an interest in is an automotive manufacturer because they utilize the same skills.”
Mario Sanchez, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology instructor, said Lopez’s willingness to learn all aspects of the program will benefit his future success.
“Ruben’s character proves his respect for the wind energy industry because he’s serious about his studies,” Sanchez said. “That’s a great attribute any future wind turbine technician should have. Harnessing those skills would be a great asset for any future employer.”
The job outlook for the wind energy industry is bright. According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in Texas was forecast to increase 102% from 2020 to 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $51,560, according to the website.
TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.