(HARLINGEN, Texas) – For U.S. Army veteran Antonio Lopez, the talent that he developed as a driving instructor in the military would lead him to an education at Texas State Technical College.
“After I graduated college, I enlisted in the armed forces and taught soldiers how to drive tactical wheeled vehicles,” he said. “I loved everything about it. After I transitioned to civilian life, I realized that I missed teaching automotive knowledge. I enrolled in the Automotive Technology program at TSTC.”
Lopez is studying for a certificate of completion in Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair and hopes to become an instructor in the field himself someday.
The Harlingen resident recently reflected on what got him interested in the automotive industry.
“I was a student in a diesel technology program at an area college,” he said. “Next to our program was an automotive technology program. I observed the work that the students did from afar, and it appealed to me.”
Lopez said he is pleased with his program of study at TSTC.
“I’m learning something new every day,” he said. “The program’s automotive shops are up to date. That creates an excellent learning environment.”
He said the hands-on training has been captivating.
“The Automotive Brake Systems course has been my favorite,” he said. “The training covered how brakes effectively operate on a vehicle for safety purposes. The instructors teach brake theory, diagnosis, anti-lock brake systems and other areas.”
Lopez added that his instructors have superior industry knowledge.
“The instructors’ lectures and hands-on training have made it easy to learn,” he said. “They have definitely elevated my education.”
Lopez plans to continue his studies at TSTC to help him achieve his goal of becoming an instructor.
“My first step is to complete the certificate of completion,” he said. “Then I will continue the program and begin the Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology. If any person has an interest in the automotive industry, I highly recommend this program at TSTC.”
Jose Avila, a TSTC Automotive Technology instructor, said Lopez’s commitment to the program has been positive.
“Antonio motivates his classmates, and that’s an admirable trait,” he said. “He always asks questions, discusses what’s new in the industry, and helps his fellow classmates. Those are great steppingstones to become a future automotive teacher.”
The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number is forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $46,680.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology. Certificate programs also are available.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.