(ABILENE, Texas) – Jose Canales knows the importance of Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Power and Controls program.
Canales, a member of the work management team for American Electric Power (AEP) Texas, graduated from the program and has moved his way up the company’s ladder during his 14-year career. Recently he spoke to current TSTC Electrical Power and Controls students about the opportunities available at AEP.
“TSTC lives among us here in Texas,” he said of the growing number of graduates who work for the company. “At AEP, we want to keep a good relationship with TSTC in order to continue to fill our employment needs.”
Students were able to tour AEP’s Abilene facility during the recent fall semester to see what would be expected of them if they were to be employed at AEP. Canales said the company has donated equipment to the program and plans to continue doing so in the future.
“We want to help TSTC as much as possible with training so the students will be prepared to come to work for us,” he said. “That is the reason why we like to donate equipment. It will be new equipment for students to train on, which is a great way to expand our workforce.”
The need for workers to fill entry-level positions, according to Canales, will grow over the next several years since many AEP employees are planning to retire.
“Right now, we have seven openings in the Abilene and San Angelo areas,” he said. “With retirements coming, we know we have to train people and get them ready to work.”
With AEP Texas’ 97,000-square-mile service area, Canales said graduates will have opportunities to transfer to different regions. The company serves 93 Texas counties and has more than 8,400 miles of transmission lines.
The job of a transmission line mechanic, according to Canales, is among the more demanding ones at the company.
“Their sole purpose is to protect the lines, which is the most valuable resource we have,” he said. “We have one of the largest transmission infrastructures in the United States, and people want to have their lights on.”
The transmission line mechanics are also the group that travels the most. Canales said many mechanics have helped in storm relief following hurricanes on the Texas coast and in Florida. They have also helped to restore power following tornadoes and other natural disasters.
“Being a transmission line mechanic is one of the hardest jobs out there,” he said. “It is also one of the most rewarding.”
AEP Texas also works to ensure that its safety record is maintained each day.
“We take pride in our training because that is what keeps our safety record good,” he said. “AEP wants each of its employees to be a success.”
Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians can make an average salary of $63,260 in Texas, according to onetonline.org. The growth for the number of such positions in the state was projected to be 14% between 2020 and 2030, according to the website.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls in a hybrid format, combining virtual learning with in-person, hands-on lab work. In addition to the Abilene campus, TSTC’s campuses in Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco offer the program.
Electrical Power and Controls is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. If participating students do not find a job in their career field within six months after graduation, they will receive a refund of their tuition.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.