TSTC Mechatronics Technology students Manrique Parra (left) and Michael Zamora create a control logic program that will run a motor using timers on a delay during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Instructors in the Mechatronics Technology program at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus are looking forward to Aug. 28, the first day of the fall semester, because the college’s recruitment efforts have resulted in an enrollment increase in the program.

Carlos Reyes, TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program director in Harlingen, said the number of traditional students in the program has increased by approximately 165% as compared to last fall, while the number of dual enrollment students has increased by 318%.

“The increase will help alleviate the shortage of qualified entry-level mechatronics technicians in the industry — specifically in Central Texas, where the industry is booming,” he said.

Mechatronics integrates several types of engineering systems, including mechanical and electrical. Students in TSTC’s program gain industry knowledge and hands-on technical skills that can lead to great-paying careers in the Texas workforce.

Reyes said the program is planning to implement a Smart Automation Certification Alliance certification this semester that will make graduates more marketable to industry representatives with a potential for higher entry-level pay.

“All students will be given the opportunity to sign up for the training of the Industry 4.0 system,” he said. “This is the latest technology in all types of manufacturing.”

The growth will allow the Mechatronics Technology program to strengthen its relationship with TSTC’s industry partners, as well as other manufacturing representatives, who visit TSTC’s Harlingen campus for employer spotlights.

Albert Escamilla is a human resource staffing analyst for Toyota.

Toyota has developed a partnership with TSTC since 2019,” he said. “It’s motivating because it shows that we are partners with the students’ best interests in mind. Additionally, the training in TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program ensures that we will have technicians ready to maintain the equipment we use to build vehicles.”

Keith Klepac, strategic maintenance manager for Vitesco Technologies, said the increase in enrollment means more opportunities to hire educated new technicians.

“I am already motivated and have seen the benefits of hiring TSTC graduates,” he said. “I believe the program’s training aligns well with what we need. TSTC graduates have had no trouble adapting the skills they learned to help us keep our factory running and producing world-class, quality products for the automotive industry.”

According to onetonline.org, electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians can earn around $62,970 a year. The website projected that there would be a 14% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers Mechatronics Technology at the Harlingen campus, where students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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