TSTC student Tristan Matthew (center) took first place in the 2023 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference’s Industrial Motor Control competition earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Tristan Matthew seemed destined to become an engineer like his father. The two frequently teamed up to fix things around their house throughout Matthew’s childhood in The Woodlands, Texas, leading him to join his high school’s robotics team. 

Today Matthew is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automation and Controls Technology at TSTC’s Marshall campus.

“(The program) encompasses everything that I like to do,” Matthew said. “That was a big deciding factor for me. I love it so far. Definitely not easy, but if you put your mind to it, I believe anybody can do it.”

During his second semester at TSTC, Matthew entered the 2023 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference held in Houston. Having already gained competition experience from participating in his high school’s robotics team, he entered two sections of the competition: Industrial Motor Control and Action Skills.

The Industrial Motor Control competition quizzed Matthew on his knowledge of electricity, motors and their components, and more. The Action Skills competition gave Matthew the chance to show off his machining skills by building a control box with a proximity sensor and relay. Matthew took first place in both competitions, earning him the opportunity to compete in the 2023 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held last June in Atlanta, Georgia.

“That one I did not win, unfortunately,” Matthew said of the national contest. “It was very competitive. But I did fight till the end, and I thought it was a great competition. I definitely will do it again in the future.”

TSTC Automation and Controls Technology instructors Douglas Clark and Troy Powledge saw the potential in Matthew right from the start and are proud of his ambition and work ethic.

“What we saw from day one is a strong determination to really understand what we are teaching him,” Clark said. “Tristan started out possibly a little intimidated by what he needed to learn, but that didn’t stop him. What we admire most about Tristan is his carpe diem attitude — his willingness to not just understand what we’re teaching him but to really know what he has been taught.”

Matthew recently began his fourth semester in TSTC’s Automation and Controls Technology program after completing a summer internship with Texas Instruments in Dallas. He will graduate from the program in April 2024 before transferring to the University of Texas at Tyler to take the next steps toward his engineering degree.

“My dream career is definitely something in the engineering field, like mechanical, industrial or electrical,” Matthew said. “I just like the creativity that comes with those jobs, so I’d love to do something like that.”

Matthew appreciates the scholarship and learning opportunities for TSTC students and how accommodating the campus is to those from a different town like himself. He also greatly admires the dedication of the Marshall campus staff to their students’ futures.

“I know Mr. Clark drives an hour every day to teach,” Matthew said. “Mr. Powledge goes home (to Waco) every weekend to see his family. So that alone tells me that they care.”

According to onetonline.org, robotics technicians earn an average of $50,630 a year in Texas. These jobs were predicted to grow 12% between 2020 to 2030 in the state of Texas, according to the website.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

tstc logo