(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When Texas State Technical College student veteran, Juan Lopez decided to go back to school, he didn’t realize the new, literal heights he would reach with his degree.
Lopez, from San Antonio, is a student in the Wind Energy Technology program and is expected to graduate in August 2019 with his Associate of Applied Science degree. Before graduating, Lopez has already started working in the field for Airway Services, Inc. as a wind technician scaling 300-feet-tall wind turbines.
“I drove past wind turbines a lot and always wondered about them, but I had no clue that there was a job that let you climb 300 feet up to work on them. Once I did more research into the program, it seemed right up my ally with all the maintenance, problem solving and working with my hands,” Lopez said.
Before starting at TSTC, Lopez served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2012. After the military, he worked in the oil field but decided he needed more job security. .
“Wind turbines are right in my backyard, the work is steady and the money is good. I can be close to home and provide for my wife and daughter,” Lopez said.
Lopez says his 10-month-old daughter was a large part of the reason why he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree.
“There’s a sense of accomplishment for me, but also I want to do it for her to give her the best I can,” he said.
Lopez’s dedication to his school work was obvious to instructors Ron Rendon and Mary Madden, both Navy veterans.
“Juan was one of my best students; always on time, assignments were always completed on time. He was a mentor to several students, and has a great work ethic, always going above and beyond in every aspect,” Rendon, instructor for wind turbine technology said.
As classes went on, Lopez found out he shared more than just veteran status with Madden – they had served on the same aircraft carrier – the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
“Juan and I spent some time remembering life on board ship and compared notes on tours we both made overseas,” Madden, instructor for electromechanical technology said. “He is a hard worker, and he wants to take care of his family.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Wind Energy Association based in Washington DC, Wind Turbine Technology is “the fastest growing job in America.” Lopez says he is trying to recruit his military and oil field friends to come check out the wind program.
“I mean there’s nothing quite like it when you’re getting to work that high up. And, you’ve got a real chance to move up in the company with the degree from TSTC,” Lopez said.
Lopez encourages prospective students to stay motivated and find what will drive them to succeed.
Fall Semester registration is ongoing right now. For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.