(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The lab environment of the Wind Energy Technology program was one reason that Francisco Duran enrolled at Texas State Technical College.

“It does not feel like a regular college. We are more like a family,” he said. “My classmates and the instructors are great. The instructors make us feel important and want us to succeed.”

Duran, of Abernathy, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree and is using his time in school to prepare for a career.

“I want to work in the wind energy industry,” he said. “My ultimate goal will be to work on the offshore turbines because they are popping up along Rhode Island and the Northeast.”

The job outlook for the wind energy industry is bright. According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in Texas will increase 83% over the next decade. The average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $52,420, according to the website.

The lab setting at TSTC has helped Duran during class. He admitted he has not had many problems. But if he does, he can turn to someone close by.

“We all thought the second semester would have been the toughest. Now, in my third semester, I can tell this is going to be a tough semester,” he said. “But we will be working together as students and leaning on our instructors to make sure we succeed.”

Instructor Billie Jones’ goal is to make sure that every student succeeds and finds a job after graduating.

“I want our students to have the best education and college experience they can. I want them to go to work and excel at what they do,” she said.

Duran wants to succeed not only for himself, but also for his family.

“I am the first person in my family to graduate high school and the first to attend college,” he said. “I am working to make my family proud of my accomplishments.”

Duran said the main reason he chose TSTC’s program was the tradition of the program.

“From the first day I was here, the instructors have been there to help us,” he said. “They are what makes this program the best.”

Duran wanted to attend art school at first, but seeing wind turbines in the Abernathy area intrigued him.

“I had a friend who worked on wind turbines, and he told me to check out TSTC,” he said. “My friend knew I would be able to get a good education and a job. I have not been disappointed with my time here.”

One of the highlights for Duran was his first climb in a wind turbine.

“I am an adrenaline junkie, and being inside the turbine was the best experience,” he said “Having our instructors with us was the best. We learned so much.”

Jones said she enjoys making the climb with students, especially when it is their first time.

“I like to give the students a hard time when I beat them up the tower,” she said. “I always look back at them and tell them they need to keep up.”

Duran said he is looking forward to his final semester at TSTC because he knows what will be next in his life.

“This was the best decision of my life to attend TSTC,” he said. “I know I will be the first in my family to graduate, and the money I will be able to earn with a degree will look really good.”

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.

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