Hands-on HVAC training has boosted Chalhoub’s experience
(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Gus Chalhoub is no stranger to a career change.
He first set his heart on becoming a nurse. But when the birth of his twins — and the stress of caring for his toddler — closed the door on that path, Chalhoub instead decided to earn a mechanical engineering degree with the goal of entering into the oil and gas industry.
Chalhoub graduated with that degree in 2019. But the pandemic the following year upended the industry. Chalhoub’s additional work as a pharmacy technician saved him from unemployment.
“I felt uneasy, and I lost the safety net,” he said. “What if I suddenly didn’t have a job and couldn’t pay my bills? I have three kids. I thought, maybe if I do a trade that’s close to mechanical engineering, I could one day have my own business.”
That thought led him to Texas State Technical College’s HVAC Technology program, especially as he considered how essential a facilities engineer would be in the health care industry — where he already has a foot in the door.
“I liked the program at TSTC because it is performance-based education, and all I need are three semesters — which is also convenient to me,” Chalhoub said. “I don’t want to spend more time in school. I want to learn something where I can get out there and start my practice.”
The hands-on work that he is completing in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program is particularly attractive to the Richmond resident.
“I love the fact that they have so many tools and equipment we can work on,” he said. “The instructors are wonderful. Any questions we have, they answer.”
While the HVAC Technology program has complemented his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Chalhoub’s time at TSTC has taken his practical knowledge another step forward.
“I learned theory, which was basically wiring electrical stuff, but even after the whole semester, I didn’t know how to wire anything,” he said of his experience at another college. “When I came here, I learned to wire, and everything made sense to me. It just made more sense because I applied my hands-on work, and I understood more because I have practiced what I’m learning. That’s what made me love what I’m doing here.”
TSTC HVAC Technology instructor Keith Klix appreciates Chalhoub’s questions during his training.
“He’s very attentive,” Klix said.
Georgeann Calzada, a TSTC senior enrollment coach, has been honored to be a part of Chalhoub’s journey at TSTC.
“Gus is an excellent student and just life learner in general,” she said. “He has such an amazing personality and he has so much to offer his future employer. He’s going to create the future that he wants through willpower and determination.”
Chalhoub’s Lebanese roots and his focus on the future drive his strong work ethic.
“I was in a country where we were devastated economically and by war,” he said. “We learn to survive day by day. ‘Sit back and relax’ doesn’t exist. I learned to do the hard work from there. What motivated me here is I have three kids, and I don’t want them to be looking at me and saying, ‘Dad never tried.’”
Chalhoub hopes to lead his life as an example for his children, carving out time to work, go to school, spend time with them — and take time for himself, like going to the gym.
For others who may be thinking about changing careers to improve their lives, Chalhoub has some advice.
“The most important thing is to see what you like to do and just go for it,” he said. “If you persevere, you will get there.”
TSTC offers HVAC Technology training at its East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas and Waco campuses.
In Texas, HVAC technicians can earn an average annual salary of $47,980, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts the number of positions to grow statewide by 16% through 2028.
Registration for the summer and fall semesters is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.