TSTC Industrial Systems student Tommy Barrett recently began a paid internship with Frito-Lay, which reinforces what he is learning in the lab and gives him real-world experience to add to his resume.

Industrial Systems instructor celebrates student’s work ethic

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Tommy Barrett used to watch — with great curiosity — when mechanics would disassemble and troubleshoot hydraulic pumps and motors in the cardboard balers that were used at a grocery store chain.

It was enviably different from Barrett’s position: stocking shelves in the dairy section.

“It looked pretty interesting,” he said of the mechanics’ work. “I’m always trying to find something new. I try to experience different things.”

That interest — and the recommendation of a friend who had a good experience in a different program — sent Barrett, of Katy, to Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program.

Recently Barrett left his job for a paid internship at Rosenberg’s Frito-Lay plant — an opportunity that TSTC Industrial Systems instructor Brian Weakley celebrates due to Barrett’s work ethic.

“He’s here every day, he’s willing to learn, and he puts in the extra effort,” Weakley said. “His world is going to open up with so many possibilities once he walks out of here.”

What has your experience in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program been like?

It’s been amazing. I’ve learned so much. When I started out, I didn’t know anything. Now I’m pretty confident around the machines I work with. It’s definitely built a foundation — a building block, in a way.

What has been your favorite moment so far?

During one of the open houses, Mr. Weakley assigned me to one of the pump motor stations. It basically incorporated all my basic fundamentals of motor control, mechanical drives class, a bunch of my core classes, and I implemented that in a real-world application. Then I got to demonstrate it to a bunch of visitors. I felt pretty accomplished.

Tell us about your opportunity with Frito-Lay.

Frito-Lay came by and were talking about hiring interns. They were talking about benefits. I was like, “That’s too good to be true. There’s no way. That’s better pay than where I was at (my old job), and it’s basically free education — you get the real hands-on experience in the real world.” I was like, “That’s a no-brainer. I’m taking that.” And it’s part time, so I get more time to focus on school — and the work I do at Frito-Lay goes hand in hand with what I do here.

What advice do you have for prospective Industrial Systems students?

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth it in the end. You gain so much. Now I have a pretty good understanding of everything. Just be prepared to put in some work. You’ve got to be committed to it. Put in 110%.


TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County offers training for several certificates of completion with mechanical specializations in Industrial Systems. The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which offers participating graduates refunds of their tuition if they are not hired in their industry within six months of earning their degree.

In Texas, industrial machinery mechanics can earn an average annual salary of $57,600, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts the number of these positions to grow in the state by 13% through 2028.

Fall enrollment at TSTC is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.

tstc logo