(HARLINGEN, Texas) – It is often said that sometimes a new career path will find you. Such was the case for Rick Vargas, who became an instructor at Texas State Technical College after finding that he thoroughly enjoyed presenting curriculum to his co-workers.
Three years later, he is now the lead instructor for Building Construction Technology at TSTC, where his experience outside the classroom is helping students who one day hope to become leaders in construction themselves.
What inspired you to become an instructor?
I was working for a structural engineer as a drafter, and I had to set up a small training to get the crew up to speed with how we did things. I set up a curriculum and held a four-hour training session. That’s all it took. I enjoyed teaching that session so much that I knew that I wanted to teach.
What did you do before your time with TSTC?
I have a degree in architectural drafting and design. I worked for a structural engineer for 10 years, which is when I learned about 90 percent of everything I know about construction. That experience has definitely helped me in the field. After my time there, I went back to school and earned another degree in construction supervision, as well. I was then offered a job as a construction superintendent for projects in the Rio Grande Valley before the opportunity to become an instructor presented itself.
What do you enjoy most about working with students?
The part I enjoy most is when we are working on projects and the students hit a problem or issue that they need to work through. We guide them, but do not just give them the answer. We make our students think and analyze the situation to come up with possible solutions. It’s at that one point where you can see that look in their eyes where the metaphorical light bulb turns on and they know exactly what they need to do. They put it into action, and they solve the issue.
Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?
I would have to say it was my first time taking the stage as lead for the graduation of our students. It was extra special because the students graduating that night were students that started the Building Construction Technology program on the same day that I started working at TSTC. They were the first cohort of students that I saw complete the program all the way through. I was very proud to see them walk across the stage and receive what I saw them work so hard to earn, day in and day out, in class.
To learn more about Building Construction Technology at TSTC, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programs/BuildingConstructionTechnology.