Juan Avila (left), a TSTC Automotive Technology instructor, explains the purpose of a dial indicator to student Thomas Reyes during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – To commemorate National Automotive Service Professional Week, which this year is June 5-11, Texas State Technical College celebrates its Automotive Technology instructors who educate and train a new generation of automotive technicians by sharing their industry knowledge.

Miguel Zoleta is the Automotive Technology program director at TSTC’s Harlingen campus and a 2014 graduate of the same program. He said the instructors work to shape every student for success.

“Our instructors help strengthen students’ soft skills, such as communication, interviewing skills, and developing a professional mindset,” Zoleta said. “Each person will experience challenges in the industry when diagnosing or resolving a customer’s automobile issue. It may be stressful, but it will be rewarding when that vehicle is back on the road.”

He added that some students aspire to establish an automotive shop and the program can help guide them to success.

“It’s important to develop leadership and business management skills,” he said. “Managing the flow of a business and also giving directives to your team will help your business grow.”

Zoleta first gained experience as an intern with American Electric Power in 2013. He was promoted to a full-time fleet technician position a year later. He made the decision to teach at TSTC in 2017.

Juan Avila, a TSTC Automotive Technology instructor, started as an automotive technician with Volkswagen in 2012.  After seven years there, he decided to share his industry knowledge at TSTC. He said he enjoys educating students about how automobiles work and how to diagnose their problems.

“Technicians constantly have to learn how to diagnose brand-new vehicles because technology evolves,” Avila said. “They also need to know how to fix older automobiles. What we teach goes back to the same principle, and that is to help each student attain a certificate of completion or an Associate of Applied Science degree from our program.”

Doel Silva Jr., of San Benito, is studying for an associate degree in Automotive Technology at TSTC. He said it is fascinating to learn how different technologies are incorporated into vehicles.

“I learned how the different types of automotive systems operate,” Silva said. “I chose to study Automotive Technology because my great-grandfather, grandfather and father have all been mechanics who ran their own automotive business. I plan to continue on that same path.”

National Automotive Service Professional Week was introduced by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in 2005. The week is aimed at recognizing the significant contribution of the parts specialists, mechanics, support professionals and collision technicians who help keep automobiles running smoothly.

The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number is forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $44,810.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates are available, depending on campus location.

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

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