(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Siria Jones recalled a moment during her youth when her parents purchased an airplane ticket for her to depart their native Honduras and reunite with them in New York.
She was entranced by the aerial scene from her window seat as the airplane navigated toward the U.S. That childhood memory would lead to an education at Texas State Technical College.
“That was my first time in an airplane, and I loved it,” she said. “That is how I formed an appreciation for high altitudes.”
Rappelling high above the ground on a wind turbine might cause vertigo for some. But for Jones, who is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology at TSTC, it is thrilling.
This is not her first time pursuing a degree at the college.
Years ago, Jones earned Associate of Applied Science degrees in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at TSTC’s Harlingen campus. But she experienced difficulty in finding a job that she liked.
“I decided to research more programs at TSTC,” she said. “I noticed the Wind Energy Technology program. I thought, ‘How will this career benefit my future?’ I enjoy high altitudes and working with gears and engines. I thought it was a great career choice because of its stability. So I enrolled.”
Jones looks forward to the career benefits of the industry.
“This field is very innovative,” she said. “You have the ability to travel. You have the support of a team. For me, this job also provides the opportunity to embrace Mother Nature from a different perspective.”
Currently Jones is the only female student enrolled in the program at the Harlingen campus. She was pleased to learn about the success of other female Wind Energy Technology graduates in the male-dominated field.
“Our program instructors were very thorough about ‘respecting all females in this program and in your career,’” she said. “It was gratifying to know they made it a safe environment.”
Now in her third semester at TSTC, Jones has enjoyed her experience.
“The hands-on activities and the instructors’ support are incredible,” she said. “I appreciate how each instructor adapts to every student’s learning style and personality. They are always there for you if you need assistance.”
David Wheelock, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology instructor, said Jones excels in her education and has gone above and beyond to ensure that she is prepared.
“She is very committed to the material,” he said. “Her time in the labs and coursework has been near the top of everyone in the program.”
Jones recalled a hydraulics course as her favorite in the program.
“A simulator demonstrated how the hydraulics system in a wind turbine works,” she said. “We were provided with a worksheet that pertained to the schematics of a simulator. It listed the steps about what you need to do and why you are doing it.”
Jones said her future plans include finding a company not only where she will feel like family, but also from which she can retire.
Wind turbine service technicians can earn an average of $51,560 per year in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology, as well as a certificate of completion in Wind Energy Technician, at its Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.