(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The wind energy industry is booming, and Wind Energy Technology students are preparing to work in that industry at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus.
Students learn about topics such as high-end rescue, electrical and mechanical troubleshooting, schematic reading, fluid power, how hydraulic systems operate, and motor controls.
Job performance is key, and safety protocols are paramount. The high-end self-rescue is one of three rescue trainings that are reviewed in TSTC’s program.
Patrick Zoerner, a TSTC Wind Energy lead instructor, utilizes the insight he gained as a wind technician at Duke Energy and implements it during high-end self-rescue sessions.
“When a technician is 300 feet in the air and an incident occurs, there is an exit available,” he said.
He noted that he has been very impressed with his fourth-semester students.
“They have come from a wide range of life experiences,” he said. “Their ability to apply those life experiences and learn what they have in our program is great.”
Hugo Arenas, of San Benito, is a fourth-semester student who enjoys the hands-on challenges the program offers. He values Zoerner’s firsthand experience because it is preparing him for a successful career.
“I would like to leave the region after I graduate because (wind energy) provides an opportunity to travel,” he said.
Victor Talavera, of Harlingen, is a fourth-semester student who grew an interest in the program after meeting industry professionals who visited his family’s restaurant.
“Their representatives recommended looking into CDL licenses and travel tips if I decided to pursue it,” he said.
He added that the program is very challenging.
“At first I was nervous about the safety lesson, but then it became second nature,” Talavera said.
Zoerner noted that potential employers have been very receptive to the program’s resources.
“If my students return with a positive story at a later point, it means I have successfully done my job,” he said.
In the industry, technicians enjoy the adrenaline of climbing up a wind turbine, high-altitude tranquility, and an overview of the land and earth while they perform their job.
Wind turbines are widespread in Cameron County, and career opportunities are available for TSTC graduates.
Wind turbine service technicians can earn an average of $52,420 per year in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology, as well as a certificate of completion in Wind Energy Technician.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.