TSTC Precision Machining Technology student Isaac Lopez uses high-speed steel to cut aluminum on a lathe machine during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – A technical education, such as Texas State Technical College provides, can give students the skills they need for good-paying jobs — a fact that is highlighted each February during Career and Technical Education (CTE) month.

Seth Fernandez, Mariana Hernandez and Isaac Lopez are students at TSTC’s Harlingen campus. Recently they shared how a technical education is changing their lives.

Fernandez, a Houston native who now lives in Harlingen, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology.

“When I lived in Houston, I worked as a crew member at a medical equipment company before I moved to Harlingen,” he said. “The tasks I performed in that job motivated me to study the health care field more. My parents suggested TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program because they are familiar with the college.”

Fernandez said the program has helped his communication skills.

“I’m currently in the third semester, and my communication has improved as I have gained confidence,” he said. “I speak more effectively with people, and (that will) ensure there is consistency when working on medical equipment. This education motivates me to do something positive with my life.”

Hernandez, who is a second-semester student in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, said she was introduced to construction by her father.

“(He) owned his own company since I was young,” she said of her dad. “Years later, I had an opportunity to learn building construction through dual enrollment at Harlingen High School. I’ve always wanted to work in building construction. You start with the idea of creating a blueprint and transition in the form of constructing homes.”

The Harlingen resident said she is glad that she chose technical education.

“I have enjoyed what’s involved in the thought process, using mathematics and other items,” she said. “Another aspect has been learning about job opportunities in different categories of construction. I’m happy that I chose TSTC because I’m learning about a field that I love.”

Lopez, of Mission, is working on a certificate of completion in Machining. He developed an understanding of computer numerical control (CNC) machining through his uncle.

“I became intrigued by the process of how he would make parts with aluminum and steel using a CNC machine,” he said.

Lopez’s high school counselor suggested TSTC’s Precision Machining program as an elective class.

“I chose it because I would be able to cut parts with the CNC machines,” Lopez said. “As time passed, an instructor from TSTC visited to recruit students for TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program. I was impressed by the presentation of (instructor) Isaac (Gonzalez). I knew I wanted to pursue it in college.”

Kadie Svrcek, TSTC’s statewide dual enrollment executive director, said CTE programs provide students with real-world learning experiences to prepare them for jobs in the Texas workforce.

“Students in CTE programs have a higher success rate of completing a high school or postsecondary degree than their non-CTE peers, and they learn valuable skills like problem-solving, time management, and critical-thinking skills,” she said. “Since TSTC’s mission is ‘placing more Texans in high-paying jobs,’ students enjoy the ability to take courses that lead them into a career directly after graduation without incurring higher amounts of debt.”

Career and Technical Education Month is a public awareness campaign hosted by the Association for Career and Technical Education and sponsored by National Association of Home Builders. It celebrates CTE, the accomplishments of CTE programs, and the importance of CTE for all students of all ages. For more information, visit https://www.acteonline.org/.

For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

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