Waco Precision Machining Technology dual enrollment La Vega High School

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program is hosting seniors from Bellmead’s La Vega High School for summer dual enrollment classes.

The students began taking classes for the certificate of completion in Precision Machining Technology when they were sophomores. Now they are taking their first summer courses so they can complete the program before the end of TSTC’s spring 2024 semester.

“This year is the first year that TSTC has allowed dual enrollment students to take classes in the summer,” said Kadie Svrcek, TSTC’s executive director of dual enrollment. “It is such a great opportunity for these La Vega students to continue their education through the summer so they are not losing any of the skills or knowledge that they have gained over the last year.”

When the students complete the certificate, they will be able to participate in TSTC’s Spring 2024 Commencement.

“They are going to have a certificate before they get a high school diploma, so they will immediately be hireable for a good-paying job,” said Jeremy Bailey, lead instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program at the Waco campus. 

The coursework is the same for both the high school and the college students. Some of the certificate’s required courses include Advanced CNC Machining, Beginning Machine Shop, Computerized Numerical Control Programming, and Precision Tools and Measurement.

Bailey said some of the high school students had challenges learning the mathematics required for machining because they had not been exposed to that level at their school. But he said it has been fun teaching them because they are so new to machining.

“I’m surprised they picked up on everything,” Bailey said. “Those kids are sponges and they want to learn the material, and they retain it really well.”

Mace Powers, a senior at La Vega High School, said he wanted to pursue the certificate because of the need for workers in the machining field.

“It was a new opportunity, and I kind of like it better than just sitting in the classroom listening to the teacher all day when I can be doing hands-on work,” he said.

Powers said he likes showing off his skills on the program’s manual machines but finds the computer numerical control machines easier to use.

Cristian Montelongo, a La Vega High School senior, is the first in his family to explore machining. He said he has enjoyed learning how to code and make products on the program’s machines.

“It helps me get a head start on what I want to do in my future,” he said. “It benefits me in finding a job out of high school.”

Montelongo said he has enjoyed working alongside the TSTC students because they have been helpful when he has had problems. Besides the mathematics used in the program, he said measuring was also a challenge to learn.

He plans to return to TSTC after graduation to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and later work in a machining shop.

For the 2023-24 academic year, about 230 high school students will take dual enrollment classes on or through the Waco campus. Some of the programs they will participate in include Automotive Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Digital Media Design, and Industrial Systems.

Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

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