(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Mario Granados’ dream job involves manufacturing his own firearms, something the veteran has been interested in since he transitioned from the U.S. Army.
The Missouri City resident is already closer to realizing that dream through working at Stafford-based Radical Firearms and training in Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program.
How has your experience been in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program so far?
I’ve had a great experience. I really enjoy what we do. The theory and all that, it’s awesome, but I love the hands-on work. I love being in the shop. The instructors have been really, really good. Especially in the first semester, (Brawley) Marze gave me a lot of confidence. At the beginning I was like, ‘Man, is this for me or is this the route I want to go?’ He kept that button pushing so I could keep it going. (Deogratias Nizigiyimana) as well — he’s been a great help this semester. I love the program, and it’s helped bridge that gap at work. I get the best of both worlds to make me a better student.
Are there times when the training you do at TSTC aligns with the work you do at Radical Firearms?
Yes. Definitely with the CNCs (computer numerical controls), the programming that we’re doing currently, the tool changes, all that good stuff definitely applies to what I’m doing at work. I run two horizontal machines at work pretty much all week. It helps out a lot. Sometimes they’ll explain something at work, and it has to be a little quicker than here (at TSTC). I’m glad that we’re doing this now because I have it in the back of my head, and I’m able to keep up with work.
Have you had a favorite or most memorable project so far?
The project we’re working on right now — the saw, making the components for it — it’s really fun because you have to use both machines for that. It’s really difficult, so it’s a mind-bender. As aggravating as it is, whenever your part comes out nice and it fits with everything else, it’s a great feeling. I’d say the experience right now with that current project is probably going to be the most memorable for me. I will say last semester was awesome — I got into the world of doing everything manually.
Would you recommend TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program to prospective students?
I definitely would. We have some great instructors with some good experience under their belt. They’re very easy to talk to. Even if you mess up and even if you continue to ask questions, they’re always there for you — very understanding.
TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology, a certificate of completion in Machining and an occupational skills award in Basic Machining. Precision Machining Technology is one of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee programs. If participating graduates do not find a job in the field within six months of earning their degree, the college will refund their tuition.
In Texas, CNC tool programmers can earn an average annual salary of $57,670, according to onetonline.org. The number of programmers in the state is forecast to grow by 29% through 2028.
Texas employs the highest number of CNC tool programmers, and the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area hosts the third-highest employment level of programmers in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.