(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Being able to help others was the goal for five Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology students at CarFest in San Antonio.
Kohl Henry Clark, Juan Guerra, Richard Martin, Ryan Rogers and Alejandro Soto represented the Sweetwater campus during the annual event at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall earlier this month. San Antonio-based automotive shops sent representatives and equipment to help repair vehicles for those selected by local organizations.
“It was humbling to be part of this event,” said Clark, of Harper. “It was great to be able to do what we can do because some people are not as well off as we are. The shops give their time and labor to help. It was cool to see so many people come together.”
Students were allowed not only to work, but also to walk through the car show, according to Rogers, of Mason.
“It was a good experience to work on the vehicles, but it was also nice to be able to walk around and see the cars,” he said.
Guerra, of San Angelo, said he picked up some techniques he has not yet learned at TSTC.
“We were able to learn how to do different procedures on vehicles that I know we will do later in class,” he said. “We were able to learn those from people who do it on a daily basis.”
TSTC Automotive Technology students from Sweetwater were joined by students from the Waco and Harlingen campuses to service vehicles.
“This was a good learning experience for me,” said Martin, of Colorado City. “It was the perfect atmosphere for us to learn from people in the shops. We were also able to meet some of the students from the other campuses, which was cool.”
According to Soto, of Abilene, he plans to use the experience as a motivation to find work.
“This is definitely something I will put on my resume because community service is important,” he said.
William Parker, the Automotive Technology instructor at the Sweetwater campus, plans to make CarFest an incentive for his top students.
“This will help our students learn and become community-oriented,” he said. “It is also nice to work with an organization that wants to help the San Antonio community.”
The way that shop owners worked together impressed Parker the most.
“If one shop did not have the right equipment, they would find a shop that did,” he said. “Everyone was willing to work together. They were impressed with the knowledge of all of our students and the quality of work they provided.”
TSTC instructors used the three-day event as a time to recruit future students.
“We had a booth set up and talked to people about our programs,” he said. “I talked to a couple of people who wanted to know what we had in West Texas.”
The five current students are pleased that future students will be allowed to travel to the event, and they hope to see them there.
“We have decided that once we graduate, we want to go there as a group to continue volunteering,” Soto said.
Parker said hearing that his students wanted to continue to volunteer made him proud.
“It is moving that they wanted to continue to do this after TSTC,” he said. “I hope more of our students want to do that once they attend CarFest.”
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 and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, Chrysler Specialization and Tesla START Technician, as well as a Basic Automotive occupational skills achievement award, are also available depending on campus location.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.