TSTC in Waco Q&A with Alex Cardona of Round Rock

(WACO) – Alex Cardona, 23, of Round Rock is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He is also vice president of the technical college’s SkillsUSA chapter.

Cardona is a 2012 graduate of Round Rock High School.

How did you become interested in Automotive Technology? “I have always been interested in vehicles and I like to work on the classics. My grandfather and stepfather were both mechanics.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “A family friend of mine went to TSTC for Auto Collision and Management Technology and I looked into the technical college online. I applied and then came to visit. I really liked it. TSTC is a good fit. I’m here and I’m doing really well.”

What is a day like in the Automotive Technology garages? “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a learning experience. We do things here that we can’t do at other schools. We also work on real-life vehicle problems. There is a lot you need to know and I like challenges.”

Are Fridays special in your technical program? “Every Friday during the semesters we get to diagnose vehicles with actual problems. We do that for TSTC students, faculty and staff. It’s free labor and all you have to do is pay for the parts. We do a great deal of customer service work and explain what is wrong with their vehicle. It teaches the students how to talk to a customer. It teaches responsibility.”

What do you like to do when you are not in class or studying? “I like to go to car shows and hang out with my friends. I love to go swimming at Blue Hole in Georgetown and also jump off the big cliff there.”

What advice would you give to high school students thinking about college and their careers? “I would tell them to give a technical college a shot.”

What are your plans after graduation in 2018? “I am thinking about working for a dealership or the Texas Department of Transportation. At TxDOT, it’s maintaining the fleet they have, from off-road to state vehicles.”

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are expected to grow to about 779,000 workers nationwide by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were more than 47,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics working in Texas for an annual mean wage of $41,760 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Waco, there were more than 530 workers with an annual mean wage of $37,340. In the Austin – Round Rock area, there were 3,580 employees with an annual mean wage of $46,440.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.