(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas A&M University student Bahaa Alhaj was eager to get back to in-person learning when he decided to enroll in Electromechanical Automation at Texas State Technical College.
“It gave me experience in electrical circuits. Especially with COVID-19, we were doing all of our labs online,” he said on why he picked these particular courses. “I was searching for something in person to actually get to do work. I’m kind of tired of watching videos of people doing the work. It’s about time for me to do it.”
Alhaj, an Electrical Engineering major at Texas A&M, is one of two students from that university learning about circuits in Harlingen this summer through the Bachelor’s+ Program, a professional education partnership between the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and TSTC.
The kind of hands-on experience available this summer is invaluable, Alhaj added.
“It’s pretty interesting, pretty helpful because I finally got to use the equipment I’ve seen in videos for quite a while,” he said. “It’s different from online learning and paper learning.”
Mario Castillo, a TSTC Mechatronics Technology assistant lab instructor, commended the students’ preparation for the summer courses.
“They’re already very knowledgeable,” he said. “We’re thinking about maybe next year making it a little more challenging. They’re very advanced on what they’re doing.”
In Texas, electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians can earn an average of $69,310 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth for these types of careers is projected to increase 8% in Texas by 2028 — faster than similar positions nationwide, according to onetonline.org.
Mechatronics represents a combination of mechanical and electronics expertise, including a broad, interdisciplinary field of study and work.
The Mechatronics Technology program at TSTC’s Harlingen campus offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Mechatronics Technology, as well as an occupational skills award (OSA) in Electromechanical Automation. The OSA curriculum includes study of the fundamentals of direct and alternating electrical currents, as well as the basics of programmable logic controllers.
“It’s a pretty good program if you’re interested,” Castillo said. “Mechatronics is growing right now. There’s a lot of jobs in demand — especially engineers. There’s a lot of work out there in the field.”
Castillo is a TSTC alumnus, graduating from the Wind Energy Technology program. After working for five years, he returned to his alma mater to teach Mechatronics Technology. “You can work anywhere with mechatronics,” he said. “If your background is electrical, you can do any components and fix any electrical stuff.”
The Bachelor’s+ Program fulfills the Texas A&M students’ ENGR(x) zero-credit-hour requirement for graduation. To meet the requirement, the engineering students must participate in an approved engineering-centric activity that meets the criteria of a high-impact learning experience, followed by meaningful self-reflection.
For more information on the Bachelor’s+ Program, go to tees.tamu.edu.
Registration for the fall semester at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.