(WACO, Texas) – William Graham, of Teague, began teaching in October 2022 in Texas State Technical College’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program at the Waco campus.
Graham is a graduate of Teague High School and TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program.
Recently Graham talked about his new role and what he hopes students can learn in the program.
What factored into your pursuing Auto Collision and Management Technology at TSTC?
I grew up in a mechanic shop with my dad. The first job I landed was at a body shop that a friend ran. I was probably 14 years old. I enjoyed it. I did that throughout high school. It is good to have that early exposure, and it makes a big difference in knowing what tools go with what jobs. TSTC was close to where I lived, and I heard it has a really good program. I toured the campus first and then applied. One of my instructors was Clint Campbell, who is still at TSTC.
After working in the auto body and collision industry, what made you decide to pursue teaching?
It is just the desire to teach people the right way to do things. There are a lot of people in the industry that do not accept the correct way to do things. I have taken to teaching pretty easily. It gives me a good feeling to see the students learn from the information I give them. It is rewarding. On my first day of teaching, it was pretty exciting because I got to teach an aluminum welding class.
What skills do students need to be successful in the program?
They need to know the basics of the how and why of refinishing and painting. It helps. But sometimes if they were taught something the wrong way, there is a barrier. We are teaching the correct way to do it. It helps to have familiarity with the tools and being able to apply them the correct way.
Are you optimistic about students getting jobs, either while in the program or upon graduation?
I feel like they have a good opportunity. They are going to have to start out at the bottom and grow as a technician. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. It is like a staircase. You also need patience.
What is your career advice to students?
If you put in the work, you get the results. No work equals no results.
Automotive body and related repairers in Texas make an average annual median salary of more than $46,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine website. The state is projected to need 13,030 workers in 2030, according to the website.
TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program offers three associate degrees specializing in refinishing, repair, and repair specialization co-op, respectively; four certificates of completion in refinishing and repair; and an occupational skills achievement award in Basic Auto Collision.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.