(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Robert Shields is a Texas State Technical College instructor in the Electrical Power and Controls program at the Fort Bend County campus.
With a passion for all things mechanical and electrical, Shields has years of experience working in the field, as well as instructing students in the classroom.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a native of Houston, born and raised here. I spent four years in the Navy. I have a knack for electrical and mechanical. When I joined the service back in 1999, I went in as a boiler technician, so I learned the aptitude of mechanical things, sprockets, gears and whatnot. So after four years of that experience, I was quite interested in how machinery works and what drives them.
When I got out in 2003, I went off to college, locally here at Houston Community College. I transferred to the University of Houston in the electrical engineering and technology field. I soaked that knowledge up, and I have been doing electrical work since 2004.
How did you end up at TSTC?
I was working in the health care sector, where I worked for six years. I was doing both electrical and mechanical, basically serving the plant, making sure that all the operations were intact, doing preventative maintenance on mechanical and electrical. Once I completed doing all of that, once I completed my degree, I had an opportunity to teach in 2012 at Galveston College. I was like, OK, I can take all my skill set I have from the Navy and from health care, and I can put it all into one big pot of teaching. At Galveston, I taught for five years. In 2017, I resigned from there and was looking for better endeavors. About six months later, I landed a job here at TSTC to teach in the Electrical Power and Controls program, and I’ve been here ever since.
With your experience in the field, how do you incorporate that into your teaching?
As instructors, we all curtail our experience and basically funnel or channel it through the lectures. That is the key thing to make sure they, the students, learn and understand. I say, hey, this is what you are going to be doing out in the field, so let me set up a lot of the labs we have done in the field. Especially with myself, we take all the labs and training and set it up in accordance with what they will see out there in the industry.
What is the industry’s reception to TSTC and its graduates?
There are not enough people to fill in the gaps. A lot of personnel in the industries hire (our graduates) looking to fill in that gap. A lot of people from yesteryear are retiring. The industries come to us saying, we need technicians, we need EPC guys and gals. They always look to get the most proficient or efficient guys and gals that we train since the companies don’t have the time to train themselves.
We have a lot of students who do have jobs lined up. The companies that we have a liaison with are loyal to the students they pick and choose.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls at its Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.
According to onetonline.org, electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians can earn a median salary of $63,260 a year in Texas. The website projected that there would be a 14% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.