(SWEETWATER, Texas) – After 12 years of serving in the U.S. Army, Hollis Manis has plans to open his own automotive shop in his hometown.
Manis, of San Angelo, said studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College is the first step of his goal.
“I have been wanting to go back to school for a while,” he said. “I completed a couple of classes while I was in the military. I knew when I was out of the military, I wanted to pursue my love of mechanics as a career.”
Manis’ passion for automobiles began by watching his father, who is an Automotive Service Excellence-certified mechanic.
“I learned a lot from my dad over the years and knew I would do the same thing when I left the military,” he said.
Manis is using his experience as an aircraft mechanic during class and hopes his knowledge will be helpful to the younger classmates.
“I did a lot of powertrain repairs in the Army,” he said. “Some of the things we are going over in the first semester is a refresh for me. I hope to be able to help some of the younger students progress.”
Once he completes the Automotive Technology program, Manis said returning to school may be an option.
“I am one course away from a business management degree, and I plan to finish that as well,” he said. “My main goal is to open my own business.”
TSTC instructor Gerod Strother said having both degrees will help Manis in the future.
“When he completes our program and decides to go back to school to complete his business management degree, he will be an ideal business owner,” he said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of having a business sense when opening a business. He has the brains to do it.”
Manis said while his first semester is refreshing his memory of general automotive areas, he knows it will get more difficult over the next few months.
“I am eager to get in there and work on some of the vehicles we have in the shop,” he said. “The more advanced courses will be challenging for me.”
The hands-on shop environment is one reason that Manis chose to attend TSTC. Another was the way the instructors present themselves in class.
“It is a laid-back environment with an emphasis on teaching us everything we need to know,” he said. “The instructors are very knowledgeable in the material and present it in a way that everyone can understand what to do.”
Strother said Manis knows many things when it comes to vehicles that will help him during the program.
“He is pretty knowledgeable on how to diagnose things on a vehicle, and that comes from his military experience,” he said. “He worked on military helicopters, and coming in here with that experience is only going to help him as he advances in the program.”
The need for qualified technicians is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas has more than 60,000 technicians employed around the state, and that number is forecast to top 65,000 by 2028. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $45,520.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Chrysler Specialization, Tesla START Technician and Toyota T-TEN Specialization, and a Basic Automotive occupational skills award, are also available, depending on campus location.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.