two men standing behind tool box

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Although Swenson Benavides and Kentrell Smith come from different backgrounds, the two Texas State Technical College Diesel Equipment Technology students have one goal in common: to advance in their careers.

Benavides, who is from Hamlin and works at Kirby-Smith Machinery in Abilene, has been working on diesel engines for years, while Smith, of Dallas, first worked on diesel engines at his current job at Bobcat of Abilene.

“I have been turning wrenches my whole life, and it was natural for me to make this my career,” Benavides said.

“My first real job with diesel trucks was with Bobcat of Abilene,” Smith said. “I found out that I needed to have my certification or I would not advance.”

The two second-semester students are studying for certificates of completion with a heavy truck specialization.

“It is fun to put what I have learned into use,” Benavides said. “The instructors have different styles that work well for every student.”

Smith said having three instructors in the program gives students the opportunity to learn different aspects of the industry. The instructors work with one another to make sure that students are prepared for each assignment.

“They do not teach exclusively to the class you have them in,” Smith said. “We can talk to them about anything we have learned and they will be there to guide us.”

 Benavides and Smith also like the hands-on approach used in lab sessions.

“It is a deeper dive into what I will be doing in my career,” Benavides said of learning the different components of diesel engines.

Both students hope that they can remain with their respective employers after graduation. 

“I appreciate how everyone works with me to make sure I have time at work and to attend school,” Smith said.

According to, jobs for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists were expected to increase 19% in Texas from 2020 to 2030. Such technicians employed in the state earn an average annual salary of $56,780, the website stated.

Diesel Equipment Technology is available at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Depending on campus location, the program offers Associate of Applied Science degrees with different specializations. Several certificates of completion also are offered.

The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. If a participating graduate does not find a job in their field within six months after graduating, TSTC will refund their tuition in full.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. Learn more at

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