(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The word mechatronics comes from two words: mechanical and electronics, creating a powerful combination of skill and detail for workers.
The career field of mechatronics combines computer-controlled systems, electrical systems, instrumentation and robotics. Texas State Technical College’s Mechatronics Technology program in Harlingen requires students to have an ability to do hands-on work, be critical thinkers, and understand measurements and programming.
The program is ordering two additional robots and smart sensors, and it is in the itemizing stage of purchasing a conveyor belt system to simulate small manufacturing.
“Industry is adding ‘smart’ to their equipment in the form of communication between equipment and computers, the accessibility of data through your phone or a console that is across the state or nation being able to control equipment remotely,” said Roland Leija, a TSTC Mechatronics Technology instructor. “We are bringing networking and communication and protocols to the mix.”
Students preparing to graduate take advantage of resume writing and interview skills assistance from TSTC’s Career Services office.
“We have employers coming to us two or three times a month looking for different positions,” Leija said. “That is a good problem to have.”
Juan Partida is a graduate of TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology program and works at Applied Materials Inc. in Austin, where he is an engineering technician. His work has enabled him to travel to Australia, Germany, Italy and Singapore for equipment troubleshooting and training.
“We work with the machines that build the chips for cell phones, and we test them and sell them to customers like Samsung and Dell,” Partida said.
Partida grew up in Weslaco and graduated from La Feria High School. He had plans to attend a four-year university to study engineering but instead decided to attend TSTC.
“I am the type where I like to do stuff hands-on, so what got me interested (in Mechatronics Technology) was the robots,” he said. “I wanted to do just regular engineering, but I found out I would be doing math. I am pretty good with math, but I don’t want to do math all the time.”
Partida said Mechatronics Technology is a great field to pursue because of the rise of electric vehicles and robotics. He said this opens up opportunities for more electrical, maintenance, technician and programming jobs for graduates.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians in Texas make an average yearly salary of more than $69,000. Jobs are centered in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas. The agency has projected a need for more than 13,000 workers in Texas by 2028.
TSTC offers Mechatronics Technology on its Harlingen campus, where students can earn an associate degree or an Electromechanical Automation occupational skills award.
Registration continues for the fall semester, and scholarships are available. For more information, go to tstc.edu.