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(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College aviation maintenance students learned during a recent panel discussion that the skills they are learning can be applied to more than one industry.

Four industry officials discussed the latest trends and needs of their businesses with TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology students during the panel event hosted by TSTC Career Services.

“This was a way for TSTC to show our students the needs in the fields they are currently studying with the people who are in that industry,” said Erin Wilhite, TSTC’s Career Services director at the West Texas campus.

The panel consisted of Wesley Carter, regional manager of Solar Turbines; John Cash, avionics shop foreman at Abilene Aero; Cavin Hill, president of Texas Aerospace Services; and Billy Wilson, director of maintenance for Deer Horn Aviation.

When asked about the state of the aviation maintenance industry, Wilson summed it up with an overall viewpoint.

“There is no doubt that there is a lack of skilled people in every process of aviation,” he said. “The industry has grown for 40 to 50 consecutive years, and it is amazing. This industry is never-ending.”

Cash said  job possibilities are plentiful for those seeking the opportunities.

“If you have the skills and want to work in this field, you are going to do well,” he said.

When asked what each company looks for when hiring an employee, there were varying responses. Wilson said his company always looks at a person’s character, while Hill said he looks for a person who holds himself or herself accountable.

“Our technicians are the first line of quality,” Hill said. “We pride ourselves on producing a good-quality product. We take pride in ourselves when nothing comes back.”

Cash told the students that there is not a “typical day” at his company.

“We work on so many different airplanes that you learn to work on many different things,” he said.

Carter said while his company does not do work for the aviation industry, the skills that TSTC aviation maintenance students learn fit well into his company.

“The sky’s the limit, and it only depends on you on how far you go,” he said.

The need for aircraft mechanics and service technicians in Texas was forecast to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030, according to The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $67,680, the website stated.

TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit

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