(ABILENE, Texas) – A friend led Jacob Nelson to Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program.
Nelson, who is studying for a certificate of completion, hopes to join his friend in the workforce when he completes the program in December.
“One of my best friends completed the program and got a job really quick,” Nelson said. “That is what got me hooked. He said taking classes at TSTC was the best thing he did.”
Once Nelson started taking classes, he knew he had made the right decision.
“I like to learn a lot by doing things hands-on,” he said. “You can learn so much more by doing things in the lab with your hands.”
Industrial Systems students learn to install, operate, test and maintain equipment in various facilities. Students learn industry-standard safety procedures, mechanical and electrical skills, diagnostic techniques, how to read and interpret schematics, and how to work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers and programmable logic control systems.
Nelson said having experienced instructors like Daniel Diaz and Terry Steelman, who are teaching them what to expect in the field, is the biggest advantage of the program.
“They have been put through different scenarios at work, and it helps us as students know what to expect,” he said.
The instructors show students what they need to know to get started on an exercise, but they leave it up to them to complete it. During one lesson, Diaz asked students to take a fitting out of a plastic pipe without damaging it.
“You will need to figure out what to do next,” Diaz said before instructing the students to complete the task.
“It is easier for us to do things with the tools than reading how to do it in a book,” Nelson said. “If we have problems, the instructors will explain to us what we should be doing to make sure it is completed correctly.”
According to Nelson, he struggled with some of the assignments he had not done before.
“Once I got in there and worked on the projects, it became clear what I was doing,” he said. “We have great tools and students who are here to help you.”
Nelson said he hopes to join the growing list of electricians in the state of Texas when he completes the program. According to onetonline.org, Texas will have more than 77,000 electricians employed by 2028. The average salary for an electrician in the Abilene area is $45,540.
“That is the best part of the program for me,” Nelson said of electric work. “I am excited to learn more about it in the coming months.”
He has seen the work pay off with his friend and other students.
“People go through the program and are hired immediately,” he said. “The payoff is when you earn a certificate and get the job. You know you accomplished something with all of the hard work when that day arrives.”
Registration for the fall semester is underway. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit tstc.edu.