Texas A&M, TSTC partnership

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – A July 22 tour of the facilities at Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus may have, at first glance, seemed simple. In reality, however, it represented a wealth of possibilities for partnerships between TSTC and some Texas A&M Engineering programs to benefit the region.

“The TSTC you were working with 10 years ago is not the same TSTC today,” said Michael Smith, vice president of development for The TSTC Foundation, referencing past partnerships between the two institutions. “It was a great visit. I think it’s the very beginning of some really cool projects.”

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, TSTC had been working on a closer relationship with Texas A&M Engineering to build a highly skilled workforce for Texas, playing on each other’s networks and strengths. The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Nuclear Power Institute team’s visit represented an opportunity to reengage — and to get an update on TSTC’s progress and mission.

“It was a very successful several hours,” TSTC Fort Bend County field development officer John Kennedy said. “I think there are a lot of options — a lot of potential there.”

Some of those options include the opportunity to partner with the TEES Nuclear Power Institute in a few of its outreach programs to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Workforce Industry Training program, for example, drives interest in STEM careers for high schoolers, while Science on Saturday organizes fun and interactive STEM events for all ages in the community.

“There were lots of objectives there. I’m so pleased they invited us to attend,” said Valerie Segovia, associate director of the TEES Nuclear Engineering & Science Center and the TEES Nuclear Power Institute. “TSTC has been a long-standing partner.”

She added that the visit gave her team more perspective on TSTC’s workforce-centric mission and how it intersects with the focus of her institute.

“Where they intersect is a prime opportunity for a partnership. We’re really excited for the future,” Segovia said. “I’ve always had a great appreciation for what TSTC does with communities and how it directly serves industry.”

TSTC develops its programs in direct response to industry needs, crafting hands-on curriculum that produces highly trained students. A good working partnership with Texas A&M Engineering only strengthens the pipeline to the workforce.

“It shows TSTC as being a solution-maker. We’re not focused just on us, but on the workforce issue as a whole,” Smith said. “It shows our willingness to work together. A lot of agencies can kind of have a silo mentality, and we are very different.”

The NPI team had the opportunity to see another TSTC and Texas A&M Engineering partnership in action during their tour of the TSTC campus in Fort Bend County. 

The Bachelor’s+ Program is a professional education partnership between TEES and TSTC. Texas A&M Engineering students spent part of their summer online or in person at one of TSTC’s 10 campuses across Texas, obtaining a certificate of completion in Architectural-Mechanical Drafting, Cybersecurity, Electromechanical Automation or Welding.

TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus hosted five Bachelor’s+ students this summer.

TSTC dedicates itself to instructing with industry-relevant tools, equipment and skills — lending itself to partnerships with institutions like Texas A&M.

Randy Wooten, provost of TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, emphasized just how critical it is for technical students to obtain hands-on experience prior to entering the workforce. 

“We enjoy being able to help, and this is a way we help: We show them application,” he said. “And that makes us all better.”

Learn more about the TEES Nuclear Power Institute at npi.tamu.edu. Learn more about the TEES Nuclear Engineering & Science Center at nsc.tamu.edu.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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