TSTC Industrial Systems instructor John Fondren builds a three-wire start-stop station, the building block of a motor control circuit.

(MARSHALL, Texas) – When the newest blockbuster comes to theaters, the most attention is given to the ones at center stage: the actors. However, the work done behind the scenes can make or break a movie and be just as exciting, and the work these people do can take them all over the world and be different each day.

At Texas State Technical College, the Industrial Systems program produces the behind-the-scenes professionals who keep facilities running safely and efficiently. Though their work may not get as much credit as others in the mechanical and electrical fields, without them many facilities could not function.

To cover every possible type of equipment that TSTC students might work with in the future, the program instructs students on everything from hydraulics to electrical circuits to pneumatics. TSTC student recruitment coordinator Cristopher Peterson described the program as one for those who love puzzles.

“If you ever have a person who thinks, ‘I wonder how that works’ — they’re very intrigued by the gears and the cogs of what makes something tick, those are going to be your individuals who fall into this kind of program,” Peterson said.

Industrial Systems lead instructor John Nutt and instructor John Fondren are the two that keep the program running on the Marshall campus. Before coming to TSTC, Nutt spent his career in building and manufacturing maintenance. Fondren began his career in construction, working his way up to a supervisor role before changing first to plant maintenance, then to instrument and programmable logic controller technology. While both acknowledge that no TSTC program can be considered the best one, they take pride in their program’s versatility.

“We try to develop what’s called a multi-craft technician who does both electrical and mechanical (maintenance),” Nutt said. “That is the bright spot about this program: it is multifaceted and has multiple job opportunities.”

The program receives curriculum updates every fall semester. This fall Nutt and Fondren will introduce courses that focus on helping students read electrical and mechanical prints. Automated sensors, a second session on programmable logic controllers, drafting and print symbols, and more will also receive a highlight.

Learning the ins and outs of so many machines grants TSTC students the ability to work nearly anywhere they want, including factories, power plants, cruise ships and amusement parks. 

“Any place where there’s an electric motor, there’s any type of sensor, there’s any type of movement, any type of mechanical drive system, that is a place you can get a job,” Nutt said. “Any place where they make anything on planet Earth, they need a maintenance person.”

TSTC offers Industrial Systems at its Abilene, East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Marshall, New Braunfels, North Texas and Waco locations. Two Associate of Applied Science degrees and several certificates of completion in various specializations are available, depending on campus location. 

The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which refunds a participating graduate’s tuition if he or she has not found a job in their field within six months of graduation. For more information, visit tstc.edu/mbg.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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