(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Luz Puente is something of a trailblazer.
The San Benito resident is currently the sole female student in the Precision Machining Technology program at the Texas State Technical College campus in Harlingen.
Before Puente enrolled, she had met with Precision Machining Technology instructors and toured the program. Its state-of-the-art lab equipment, especially the computer numerical control (CNC) machines, caught her interest.
“I noticed how precisely a CNC machine controls the lathes and the mills, and I became intrigued,” she said.
Puente enjoys learning about the various processes involved in precision machining, such as the one that changes the physical properties of a metal by heating or cooling.
“Each instructor educates us with a fascinating solution to a new lesson,” she said. “I enjoy observing their tricks to complete a part. The outcome is faster, easier and precise.”
Puente recalled her first time using an edge finder and how she struggled with it.
“My instructor, Mr. Garcia, asked if I needed help, and I said no,” she said. “I learned not to be afraid to ask for help.”
There is some friendly competition in class between Puente and the other students, according to program lead instructor Isaac Gonzalez.
“Each student is required to read a blueprint the program requires,” he said. “She completes it every time.”
Puente hopes to pursue a career in CNC programming with such companies as Raytheon Technologies in Dallas or Delta Centrifugal in Temple.
She is on track to graduate in December with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology.
TSTC also offers a Machining certificate of completion and a Basic Machining occupational skills award.
In Texas, CNC tool programmers can earn $57,670 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projected growth for this job in the state is 29% through 2028, onetonline.org finds.
TSTC is so confident that the training its students receive during this program will culminate in a job that Precision Machining Technology is part of the college’s Money-Back Guarantee. If graduates do not get hired in their field within six months after earning their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.
Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.