(WACO, Texas) – Kyler Valenta is back in a familiar place.
Valenta, of Waco, graduated in 2019 from Texas State Technical College’s Instrumentation Technology program and quickly went to work at Formosa Plastics Corp., Texas in Point Comfort as an instrumentation technician specializing in analyzer systems.
Earlier this year, Valenta made a career change and returned to his alma mater to teach in the Instrumentation Technology program. He decided to leave his former job to be able to spend more time with his son, who was born earlier this year.
Valenta said teaching has been a big change for him but he is working daily to become better at it.
“I explain all this stuff, and I just know it, but I have to keep reminding myself that all of this is a foreign subject to these students,” he said. “I have to dial back the explanations and bring it into a sense of helping them understand and not over-confusing them.”
Valenta said today’s instrumentation field is moving toward smart equipment that can be controlled from one central location in a facility. He also said instrumentation technicians can now see on computers the layouts of plants, which saves time when issues arise.
Valenta said he can see a push toward artificial intelligence in the instrumentation field with faster communication and troubleshooting.
“Your techs are getting smarter and your equipment is getting smarter, and you grow with that evolution over time,” Valenta said. “We know where we are at (as a program) and we can stay up to pace with industry, but we need to continue evolving our program.”
Valenta was raised in El Campo, Texas, and is a graduate of El Campo High School.
“I grew up knowing all about the chemical plants through my dad,” he said. “I have met a lot of the guys that work in the plants that are instrumentation supervisors. They have had successful careers and have moved up in the company.”
All of the Instrumentation Technology program’s faculty members have graduated from the program, with some teaching other instructors while they were students.
“We love the industry we are in, and we are passionate about it and we want it to succeed,” Valenta said.
Linda Martin, lead instructor in the Instrumentation Technology program, gave Valenta a program tour before he enrolled at TSTC as a student.
“I think that with having past graduates hired there is already a bond with TSTC,” she said. “These past graduates have been in the field, and they know firsthand the great careers that you can get with an instrumentation degree. They appreciate the quality of education they received and feel strongly about improving the curriculum so that the reputation of our department keeps up with current needs.”
Mike Martin, another instructor in the Instrumentation Technology program, said Valenta was the kind of student who always wanted to know more and how to apply what he learned.
“Now, as an instructor, he brings the interest, enthusiasm and the knowledge he gained working in the petrochemical field and is applying these qualities in the classroom,” he said.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is now open. For more information, go to tstc.edu.