(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Jose Rodriguez, of Brownsville, developed an interest in precision machining when he was a student at Hanna Early College High School. His former high school had offered both precision machining and welding in the same shop, and he was intrigued by the demonstrations of how things were made.
Now he is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology at Texas State Technical College. He is in his second year, and the passion he applies toward each project is evident.
“We start a project and think it’s a lot to do, but we know we can get it done,” he said.
One project that appealed to him was computer-aided manufacturing. The software used in computer-aided design models the parts used in computer-aided drafting. A student designs their project and communicates with the program according to their specifications for completion.
“With SpaceX being in Brownsville and opening manufacturing opportunities, I would really like to work there,” Rodriguez said.
Precision machining involves applying a manufacturer’s blueprint and creating the component that a customer wants to manufacture. This is what students learn in the program for this in-demand industry. Machinists help create parts used in a variety of things, from automobiles to surgical devices to aircraft parts, and safety is always stressed.
“Manufacturing is at an all-time high,” said Ricardo Limas, a TSTC Precision Machining instructor. “I have been here 25 years, and all of our graduates have moved on to a successful career. We have 100% placement.”
When an employer visits TSTC or students visit a company, students seek what might be of interest to them in that industry. They are excited to know about the various paths where their expertise can take them.
Some of the industries seeking to hire TSTC Precision Machining Technology graduates include petroleum, automotive, aerospace, medical and entertainment. Texas is the second-largest employer of machinists in the nation.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, machinists earn a yearly median salary of more than $46,000 in Texas. Most jobs are concentrated in the Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio areas. There are about 300 machinists working in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, according to the federal agency.
TSTC offers Precision Machining Technology at the Harlingen campus, where students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as a Machining certificate of completion.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.