(SWEETWATER, Texas) – After putting an engine in a 1984 Chevrolet pickup truck, Tate Potter knew he was destined to work on vehicles.
Potter said he felt a sense of accomplishment when he completed the job and began preparing his career. He is working to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College.
“No matter what I end up doing with my life, I know that I will have a leg up on people with an associate degree in hand,” he said. “I would love to own a business one day, but what is more important to me is being able to provide for my family.”
Potter said having a degree will help his loved ones in the future.
“When I have a wife and children, knowing that I will be able to do anything on a vehicle will help us save money and give us more,” he said. “I want to be able to do that for my family.”
His family has always been important to the Mason native.
“My grandfather was a mechanic and my family would always buy old vehicles and work on them,” he said. “We did that so we could drive them around.”
When Potter was in high school, he bought the Chevrolet with plans to fix it.
“I dropped the engine and it hit me that this is something I want to do,” he said. “I drove that truck all over the place knowing it was me that made it possible.”
When Potter toured TSTC’s Sweetwater campus, he knew it was the best fit for him.
“I worked on vehicles in my backyard, so coming here and seeing the bays and equipment made it an easy decision to attend school,” he said.
Potter also assists his classmates when they need a boost.
“I love to help people, but I have to admit I am not much of a teacher,” he said. “I want to help people figure things out so they can be successful.”
Having the ability to help others is one quality that TSTC Automotive Technology instructor William Parker likes in Potter.
“If people need help, he is always there for them,” Parker said. “He will help anyone in class because he has a lot of knowledge on vehicles.”
Potter enjoys having the opportunity to learn how to work on different vehicles.
“We have worked on regular engines and diesel,” he said. “It is good to learn so many different things in class. Having that type of experience will help all of us in the future.”
Potter also faced some challenges in class, but overcame them by persevering through the situation.
“We finished pulling a motor from a vehicle and it was really difficult,” he said. “It was something I have not done before because it was different from my Chevy. Having the quality of instructors available made it easier for us to understand what we needed to do.”
Parker predicted that Potter will be successful in the automotive field.
“He is very ambitious and in this job, you have to be,” he said. “Tate is hungry all of the time to learn as much as he can.”
The need for qualified automotive technicians is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas has more than 60,000 technicians employed around the state, and that number is forecast to top 65,000 by 2028. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $45,520.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Chrysler Specialization, Tesla START Technician and Toyota T-TEN Specialization – and a Basic Automotive occupational skills award – are also available, depending on campus location.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.