(ROSENBERG, Texas) – On the first day of class, instructors usually spend the majority of the time going over expectations for the course.
While Tony Marquez, an instructor for the Tesla START program at Texas State Technical College, certainly outlined what would be covered over the next 12 weeks, the students also immersed themselves in their first lab: getting familiar with different Tesla vehicle models.
The group of eight — Chapman Lai, Richie Martinez, Aaron McKenzie, Vincent Packer, Christopher Ramos, Paul Schwab, Dy’Quon Starling and Nathaniel Steinbicker — represented the first Tesla START cohort for TSTC’s campus in Fort Bend County.
Ramos, who was born and raised in Guam, was excited to work with an innovative company like Tesla — and to return to an educational environment.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been to school,” he said. “I love learning, and the way it’s been set up, you bypass all the administration things and you get straight to the things you want to learn.”
That included the chance to investigate the Tesla models on the first day.
Packer, who drove from Los Angeles, California, to be there, looked forward to taking apart Tesla’s electric motor and putting it back together.
“I want to be a part of it because that’s the future,” he said of why he applied to the Tesla START program. “It took me a long time to decide that I wanted to be a mechanic, but it was the first thing I learned how to do in high school, and I ended up always going back to it. Once I started to think about it, if I get into Tesla, that can be my career.”
The Tesla START program gives students the skills necessary to become advanced electric vehicle technicians at Tesla. As a Tesla-paid hourly intern during the program, students develop technical expertise and earn certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning.
The estimated cost of the program is $2,700. Students are paid $15 an hour and receive full health benefits while in the program. Prospective students can find admission requirements and more information at tstc.edu/workforce/tesla-start.
All students who successfully complete the nationwide program are eligible to work at a Tesla Service Center in the United States.
Marquez has seen many students go on to find successful careers within Tesla over his last year of teaching in the program. He has worked for Tesla for eight years.
“There are a lot of opportunities,” he said.
While the first Tesla START cohort will be primarily housed in a temporary location on campus, others will enjoy the new Faraday Center, a facility expressly designed and built to support electric vehicles, when it opens in February 2022.
There are currently eight additional Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington — and at TSTC’s campus in Waco. The Tesla START program was launched in 2019 and has had more than 300 graduates to date.
For more information on Tesla START, go to tesla.com/careers/tesla-start.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.