(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program is known for providing the wind industry with graduates who are ready to work on day one.
Two graduates of the program recently returned to the Sweetwater campus to discuss their roles at NextEra Energy Resources with current students. Aaron Chavarria and Gage Rodgers are wind site managers for the company and credit TSTC for their success.
Chavarria, a 2016 TSTC graduate, said returning to campus felt like he made a complete circle in life.
“I thank TSTC for giving me the opportunity to work for NextEra,” he said. “I remember sitting here listening to NextEra talk about what they could do for me.”
Chavarria said he suggested that the company’s recruiting team look at hiring TSTC graduates.
“I want to rebuild that connection with TSTC,” he said. “If we can set a foundation and start talking to students about a career, not just one job, we are going to see a positive reaction from students.”
Chavarria said he was pleased to see both Diesel Equipment Technology and Wind Energy Technology students engaged during the presentation.
“I wanted the diesel students in here because they will know how to work on some of the equipment we have,” he said. “It was good to see so many students eager to know more about our company.”
For Rodgers, a 2015 TSTC graduate, the visit was his second to campus for a recruiting event. He said TSTC prepared him for his career in many ways.
“TSTC instructors taught me how to read schematics and gave me the general idea of what to expect in the workforce,” he said.
Brock Bonnicksen, NextEra’s leader of the training facility in Iowa, discussed what new employees will go through and how the company operates.
“We take training very seriously,” he said. “We are one of the most innovative companies in the country and the world.”
NextEra Energy Resources is a leading wholesale power generator, operating power plants and offering a diverse fuel mix to utility companies, retail electricity providers, power cooperatives, municipal electric providers and large industrial companies.
“We are growing,” Bonnicksen said. “We do not want to lose employees — we want to hire more. You will have a stable job with NextEra.”
Tyler Speetzen, a current Wind Energy Technology student, recently accepted a technician position with the company. He said the recruitment efforts by NextEra attracted him to the company.
“It was the best outreach I have ever seen,” he said. “The recruiter was very respectful to what I wanted as a career, and it was her passion that made me really want to work for NextEra.”
Speetzen, of Salt Lake City, Utah, said hearing more about the company during the employer spotlight was important.
“It was very informative, so I know I made the right decision,” he said.
The job outlook for the wind energy industry is bright. According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in Texas was forecast to increase 102% from 2020 to 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $51,560, according to the website.
TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.