(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Kayla Boettcher might not be 100% sure of exactly what she wants to do with her Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Texas A&M University, but she is keeping her options open with a broad range of experiences this summer.
One experience includes nine weeks’ worth of summer online courses in Architectural-Mechanical Drafting at Texas State Technical College. The courses are part of the Bachelor’s+ Program, a professional education partnership between the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and TSTC.
Another of her summer activities is an internship at Acutronic, an aerospace company with offices in the U.S. in Austin, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and overseas in Germany, India and Switzerland.
Occasional weekend work designing and creating metal signs, fire pits and other items at her father’s metal fabrication business — where she might eventually want to work — rounds out Boettcher’s summer.
“I’d rather it be full than boring,” Boettcher said of her strenuous schedule. “I’m getting a whole lot of different experiences this summer, and I’m very grateful.”
The drafting courses represent a special interest for Boettcher — her uncle is a structural drafter who works with her father.
“It kind of connected a whole bunch of different things that I wanted to do,” she said. “It was something that I was super interested in.”
Boettcher’s busy schedule leaves her with very little free time. She credits the flexibility of the course — and its instructor, Miguel Loya — for a successful experience.
“The fact that it’s self-paced has been a game changer,” she said. “That was kind of the selling point for me doing that course.”
Loya has “gone out of his way” to accommodate Boettcher’s schedule, she said. She added that his instructional style has made her enjoy something she anticipated not liking very much: SolidWorks, a computer-aided design and computer-aided engineering program.
“Now I feel like I can make these super-complex parts, and it’s not even that hard because it’s broken down into so many steps,” Boettcher said. “(Loya has) done a really good job going step by step and then slowly increasing the difficulty level on them. That’s helped me a lot.”
Her Acutronic internship has also been relevant to the drafting course.
“I’ve actually sat down with other engineers and mechanical engineers and have watched them do all of their modeling — and got to connect that with the class I’m doing this summer,” she said.
Boettcher highly recommends the Bachelor’s+ Program to other Texas A&M students.
“I feel like a bunch of people nowadays think you have to have a bachelor’s to get a good job — and I do not think that’s true at all,” she said. “I think it just makes you super valuable to the workforce to have both a technical type of certificate and a bachelor’s degree. It should kind of cover both aspects. Having that to add to my resume and my knowledge will be super beneficial in the long run.”
For more information on the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Bachelor’s+ Program, go to tees.tamu.edu.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.