(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The serenity of nature. The beauty of mountain landscapes. And an adrenaline-filled rock climbing hobby in high altitudes.
Each of those captivating elements is what Alex Walker grew up around in his home state of Wyoming.
Years later, his concern for the environment — and the fact that climbing to dizzying heights on a wind turbine would be child’s play to him — would lead him to an education at Texas State Technical College.
“I read information through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website (www.bls.gov) that listed wind energy careers as experiencing extraordinary growth,” Walker said. “I did more searching, and the Wind Energy Technology program at TSTC came up. I also wanted to have a career that would positively impact the earth in the future. So I applied.”
Now in his third semester, Walker said his program experience has been riveting.
“The education that the Wind Energy Technology instructors instill, such as schematics, programmable logic controllers, motor controls and other areas, is intriguing,” he said. “The theoretical knowledge is great, but the practical knowledge, such as safety, is the most important.”
Walker recalled a high-end self-rescue exercise as his favorite hands-on assignment.
“Each student had to climb onto the practice nacelle and use their self-rescue kit to rappel down,” he said. “The purpose of that assignment was to learn how to quickly and safely evacuate in the event of a fire.”
Walker said his choice to pursue an education at TSTC was the right one.
“I was at a point in my life where I needed to begin a new chapter,” he said.
Mario Sanchez, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology instructor, said Walker’s intelligence is evident when he applies classroom knowledge to lab sessions.
“Alex grasps knowledge well in the classroom as it applies to the curricula,” Sanchez said. “During the lab sessions, he is very inquisitive. You can tell he has a passion for this field. I firmly believe he will have a successful future as a wind turbine technician.”
According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in Texas will increase 83% over the next decade. The average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $51,560, according to the website.
TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.