(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Houston was recently named a city on the rise for STEM-related jobs — and Texas State Technical College plays an essential role in training students for many types of those careers.
“TSTC is the primary state agency responsible for preparing Texans for high-paying technical jobs,” said Randy Wooten, provost of TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus. “It is the reason we were created.”
The 2021 STEM Job Growth Index lists the top 20 cities in the United States for future success and opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. This is the fifth year the index has been compiled by RCLCO Real Estate Consulting and CapRidge Partners — and the first time Houston, at No. 20, has made the list.
Other Texas cities in the ranking include Austin and Dallas.
The index takes several metrics into account, such as migration, projected future migration, STEM wages, and cost of living.
TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County is perfectly positioned — both in its proximity to Houston and its relevant, hands-on training for in-demand technical programs — to help students take advantage of a multitude of opportunities.
“Robotics and industrial automation address the ‘T’ in STEM – technology,” said Charles Sparks, lead instructor for TSTC’s Robotics Technology program. “Automation and robotics are used in many aspects of manufacturing throughout the region.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area has the fourth-highest employment level of robotics technicians in the nation, highlighting the number of jobs that are available.
“The industrial and manufacturing sector has been transitioning to automation and robotics at a very rapid pace and will continue to move in that direction,” Sparks said. “Now is an exciting and promising time to enter into the rapidly growing field.”
Maintenance technicians will always be a part of technology-driven fields, and TSTC’s Industrial Systems program gives students hands-on experience that can be applied in almost any technical career.
“Graduates are multiskilled, so they’re able to make their impact in many different technical areas,” said Ray Smith, TSTC lead instructor for the program.
Students have exposure to and receive training in many disciplines, making them versatile, valuable hires for companies.
“We put out well-rounded people that can do a lot of different things,” added Brian Weakley, a TSTC Industrial Systems instructor. “We’re putting people in the workforce that can do these technical jobs.”
TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program prepares students to have a technical background in manual machining and technology-driven experience in programming computer numerical controlled machines.
Both pathways require precision and diligence to ensure that the correct parts are produced.
“We have a big role to play,” said Deogratias Nizigiyimana, TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology lead instructor. “TSTC trains students to make sure the companies around here get people who are qualified for the job.”
Instructors like Nizigiyimana with industry experience and the latest equipment and technology keep students’ training relevant — and marketable — in STEM-related fields.
“If we just kept teaching the same way we’ve been doing for years, our students could not get jobs,” Nizigiyimana said. “We want to make sure we use the equipment they are using in industry.”
TSTC keeps the lines of communication open with industry partners, inviting company owners to serve on advisory boards for programs. It is one of the best ways to ensure that training methods remain on the cutting edge.
“We can make adjustments and stay on top of what industry’s looking for,” said Judy Cox, a Career Services coordinator at TSTC. “We’ve got some companies that want to hire any of our graduates because they know that our graduates have the technical skills and they’re able to translate it into their positions.”
TSTC graduates have gone on to excel in technical jobs in a wide range of industries, with many of them advancing faster in a company than their counterparts who did not attend the college, she added.
“The sky is the limit on employment opportunities for high-paying jobs throughout the region and state,” Wooten said. “Approximately 80% of our graduates have jobs or job offers before they graduate.”
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.