(HARLINGEN, Texas) – What do well-known companies such as American Electric Power, National Oilwell Varco, Schlumberger and Toyota have in common? Each has hired a graduate from the Mechatronics Technology program at Texas State Technical College.
The term mechatronics combines “mecha” for mechanical and “tronics” for electronics.
TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program combines basic skills in automation, computer control systems, electronics and instrumentation to ensure that its graduates are marketable.
First-semester students at the Harlingen campus are programming small micro-controllers, according to Eldwin Leija, an instructor in TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program.
“These are a very good way to get into programming because of how simple it is,” he said. “It involves building a circuit and programming to get their feet wet. Once they get to the bigger projects, they feel more comfortable and confident to run wires, cut strips, and (work on) other components.”
Antonio Ruiz, of Brownsville, is a TSTC student in the program who became interested in TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program after a co-worker mentioned that they had enjoyed their hands-on experience in it. Ruiz’s fascination for tinkering with objects and mechanical devices led to learning more about what the program has to offer.
“I was recently hired for a part-time paid internship with Saint-Gobain, a construction supply company in Brownsville,” he said. “If I perform well enough and they offer me a position, I will stay with them.”
Many of the students have little knowledge about mechatronics upon entering the program..
Dora Arroyo, of Harlingen, discovered her motivation to enroll upon a recommendation from her friend who is employed with AEP.
“In our program, not only is it about electrical, you deal with robotics and get to build and wire certain circuits,” she said. “That’s one of the most interesting things to me.”
In Texas, electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians can earn around $69,000 a year. The number of these jobs in the state is expected to increase 8% by 2028.
TSTC offers Mechatronics Technology at the Harlingen campus, where students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree or an Electromechanical Automation occupational skills award.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.