(RED OAK, Texas) – Jorge Lopez, an alumnus of Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program, returned to TSTC this fall to work on his Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.
After graduating from TSTC’s North Texas campus with his first associate degree, Lopez found a job with a company working on autonomous trucking — or self-driving trucks.
“To me it was really exciting (working) on technology that’s still fairly new because it’s not really normal yet — you don’t really see that driving down the street,” he said. “That’s what really got my attention, was that this technology is still considered new or groundbreaking.”
Lopez said the company eventually closed all operations and he began looking for a new job, hoping to stay within the autonomous trucking industry.
“I was trying to get back in the industry, and other competitors liked that I had the diesel automotive background, but what they were also wanting me to have was a strong background in computers and computer networking,” he said.
Lopez then began considering going back to school and, with the help of the Texas Workforce Commission, enrolled at TSTC in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program.
“I’m really happy to be back,” he said.
Jacob Usery, lead instructor for Computer Networking and Systems Administration at TSTC’s North Texas campus, said he found the combination of Lopez’s degrees to be interesting.
“It’s common to have students that started in another program and switched to CNS, but not as common to have a former graduate from another field of study go through our program,” he said. “This (combination) is a first for me, and it is a fascinating change of pace. In a technical sense there isn’t much overlap, but both programs are looking for students that enjoy solving complex problems and working with equipment that requires creative troubleshooting.”
Lopez also commented on the difference between the two programs and said he was enjoying the new challenge.
“I like how technical (Computer Networking and Systems Administration) is,” he said. “Working on a car versus working on a networking system are two different things. Cars seem very simple. Maybe you can’t do too much as far as modifying stuff, but as far as computer networking, it’s a totally different beast. I think it’s a little bit more challenging, honestly, but I enjoy that.”
The average annual salary for network and computer systems administrators in Texas is $85,380, according to onetonline.org. The website showed that the need for these specialists in the state was forecast to grow 20% between 2020 and 2030.
In TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, students can choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree, certificates of completion in IT Support Tier 1 and IT Support Tier II, and an advanced technology certificate in Cloud Computing.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.