(HARLINGEN, Texas) – After serving in the U.S. Army for seven years, Luis Garcia wanted to expand his aviation maintenance knowledge.
Garcia earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in aviation maintenance from Texas State Technical College in 2018. The Brownsville native wanted to remain in the Valley, and Leo Guajardo, an aviation maintenance instructor in Harlingen, saw an opportunity for him.
SpaceX held a job fair in Brownsville, and one of the first calls Guajardo made was to Garcia.
“I told him that he needed to be one of the first people in line,” Guajardo said, adding that he learned of the fair through his contacts at SpaceX.
Garcia said he received the call just one day before the fair.
“He (Guajardo) told me to go for it,” Garcia said of the opportunity.
Calling the interview process overwhelming, Garcia said his time at TSTC prepared him for it.
“If it wasn’t for my instructors and other people at TSTC, I would not have known about the job and what to expect,” Garcia said.
Today, Garcia is a technician for the company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.
“It is pretty surreal,” Garcia said of working for SpaceX. “I am amazed at what we do throughout the day. It is fun and exciting to go to work.”
In the Army, Garcia worked in helicopter maintenance. He knew fundamentals, but his time at TSTC helped advance his knowledge of aviation maintenance.
“The instructors are great guys and very knowledgeable,” Garcia said.
Although Garcia graduated from TSTC’s Waco campus, Guajardo said he met him through his students.
“I found it interesting to see how the instructors in Waco teach the program compared to me,” Guajardo said.
One thing the instructors have in common is placing graduates in the workforce.
“When our students graduate, they get picked up all around the country and even the world, if they want to do that,” Guajardo said. “To see his excitement, that is just golden to me.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.