Category Archives: Harlingen

Automotive students get taste of life in field

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology students are getting a feel for what it will be like in the shop.

With TSTC going to online classes, the students enrolled in the program are now working remotely. According to lead instructor Miguel Zoleta, this could be what students experience in the workforce.

“The remote learning will be difficult for the students since this is an 80 percent hands-on course,” Zoleta said. “There will be online or remote learning out in the field. As technicians in dealerships, future graduates are going to be learning via online training.”

Zoleta said students will attend course lectures, which account for 20 percent of the course, during online classes.

“They will also do online tests and quizzes, as well as online training videos on equipment they are using in their course,” he said.

With remote learning, Zoleta will not be able to spotlight the program for prospective students. But he knows that the TSTC recruiting team will work to inform students.

“Throughout this time that we will be working remotely, our enrollment coaches and recruitment team are also coming up with new ideas to attract new students,” he said.

Technology is also being used to promote the program to prospective students, Zoleta said.

“We have made presentations and PowerPoints to advertise our program,” he said. “This material can be sent to prospective students via email to help attract them to our program.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as an Automotive Technician certificate. Zoleta said the program can lead directly to jobs, especially at local dealerships.

“There is a large demand for automotive technicians. With an associate degree, students can work either in the gasoline industry or in the diesel industry as this industry is growing at a really fast pace,” he said.

With many people not leaving their homes due to COVID-19, Zoleta said vehicles should be routinely checked.

“A walk-around inspection every morning should be done just to make sure their tires are in good condition and properly inflated,” he said. “People should also check under the hood to make sure all fluid levels are within specification and the drive belt is in good condition.”

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Tovar overcomes obstacles to find welding career

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Nacona Tovar did not expect to have a career in welding like his father. But as an adult, something changed, and he picked up his own welding torch.

After receiving his welding certification from Texas State Technical College in December, Tovar was hired by BNSF Railway in Fort Worth. Someday he would like to return to TSTC to work on an Associate of Applied Science degree.

A native of Sebastian, Tovar, 20, and his family moved to Harlingen when he was four. He learned to work at an early age by “picking whatever was grown in the fields behind his house.”

When he was seven, Tovar said he began playing football and after practice would help his father when he was in his shop.

“I would help him with whatever he was welding together,” he said. “I picked up on what he was doing and continued to do that as a kid.”

Tovar originally wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps by going to medical school.

“I was going to do physical therapy because my mom was in the medical field,” he said. “My dad did not want us (Tovar and his three older brothers) to be welders. I do not know what really happened, but I turned back to welding.”

All four Tovar brothers are now welders.

Tovar said his first college choice did not offer a welding program. He turned to TSTC and with financial aid started taking classes.

He is no stranger to doing things on his own. At the age of 16, Tovar lived by himself, including two months in his truck, before starting college.

“Compared to some of the other kids I know, I had a drive no one else seemed to have,” he said. “I went out on my own and had to pay my way.”

Tovar said “it hurt” to live in his truck, but “I am on my feet now.”

He said the TSTC faculty and staff helped him during his time in school. He said his goal is to fine-tune his craft with more classes.

Tovar can see the difference in his welding since finishing his TSTC coursework. It is all thanks to his instructors at TSTC.

“My dad taught me the simple things. The old-timers thought that if it held together really good, they were done,” he said. “I actually learned in school that there is a lot more to it.”

Tovar said his instructors were more than just educators.

“I have become really good friends with them. I can still call my instructors and ask for help,” he said. “That is what I like about TSTC. People will still help you.”

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New TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology Pole Lab Taking Shape in Harlingen

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – More than 40 poles have been installed at Texas State Technical College’s outdoor lab for the new Electrical Lineworker Technology program to debut this fall in Harlingen.

The program is benefiting from the construction of the 12-acre, 100-pole yard at the corner of Rio Hondo Road and 29th Street. Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide department chair for distribution and industrial electrical systems, said another 60 poles will be installed before the fall semester begins in August.

Carithers said the program’s two instructors will install wiring and crossarms and do other work to get the outdoor lab ready for students. Instructors will use the program’s new lift truck and bucket truck to do the work.

“We do have materials in the process of being ordered right now,” Carithers said.

TSTC’s program is projected to have 40 students in the first cohort. The students will work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology or an Electrical Lineworker certificate.

The program’s students will also work toward a commercial learner’s permit, and eventually a Class A commercial driver’s license, in two semesters of the program. Victor E. Blalack III, TSTC’s executive director of Strategic Partnerships, Workforce Training and Continuing Education in Harlingen, said students’ work will be a combination of online and instructor-led training during the first semester.

“The second semester is broken into four, two-week driving sessions, and at the end of a two-week session, that student will be ready to take their maneuvering skills and road examination,” Blalack said. “Upon successful completion of the skills and road test, a Class A CDL will be awarded.”

The need for electrical power-line installers and repairers is projected to grow to about 128,900 jobs through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency predicts population growth in cities will spur the increase in employment.

Texas had more than 11,400 electrical power-line installers and repairers as of May 2018, according to the federal agency. Cameron County had 130 workers earning an annual mean wage of $56,660 in 2018.

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Davila helping fellow veterans at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Cristobal Davila served his country for eight years. Today, he is helping veterans transition to civilian life at Texas State Technical College.

On a daily basis, Davila, who is a Department of Veterans Affairs school certifying official at TSTC’s Harlingen campus, processes college applications, as well as showing veterans how to apply for GI Bill benefits.

Davila is no stranger to TSTC. After serving three years in the U.S. Army and five years in the Army Reserve, Davila attended TSTC, earning an associate degree in Business Management and a certificate in Automotive Technology.

He said after serving in the military, he knew he had to transition to civilian life.

“I was going to go to school for my future and to provide for my family,” he said. “When I got out of the service, I had no idea what I was going to do. When I had my kids, I knew that I needed to go back to school for them. It was not just about me anymore.”

Davila is now sharing his TSTC story with other veterans. He is noticing a trend in the fields veterans are looking at as a new career.

“They are wanting to go to the technical side of the workforce. Things like cybersecurity, welding and architecture,” he said. “That is just what I have seen from the students I have helped.”

Since he is both a veteran and a TSTC graduate, Davila said it is easy to talk to former service members about going to school.

“It is good to be around my peers. A veteran knows a veteran,” he said. “People know that I understand what they might have gone through. I think it is easier for them to open up to me because I am a veteran.”

Davila said working in TSTC’s Veteran Services department helps fulfill something he has missed since leaving the military.

“I do miss the camaraderie with my fellow service members. I like to hear some of the stories from the combat veterans when they come in,” he said.

Davila said his new position gives him the chance to do something special on a daily basis.

“I like the fact that we have the Veterans Center for them. We have them covered when they are looking to work in the civilian world,” he said.

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TSTC grad passes education values on to his son

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Harlingen’s Juan Garcia knows the value of an education. He passed that value on to his son, who is now attending Texas State Technical College.

Garcia obtained his GED through TSTC and was thankful the college staff showed him different career options. But he did not stop after earning his first associate degree.

“They guided me each step of the way. They showed me the different programs that were available at TSTC,” he recalled of his first time attending TSTC in 2000-01.

Garcia took advantage of one of those programs and earned a certificate in Automotive Technology.

“Two years later, I received an associate degree in Automotive Technology because I wanted to become an instructor at TSTC,” Garcia said.

Then something changed. Garcia was introduced to the world of machining.

He returned to TSTC and earned both a certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining. Prior to his graduating in 2015, Delta Centrifugal Casting in Temple offered him a job.

Even at work, Garcia has not stopped educating himself.

“I have cross-trained to move myself up at Delta,” he said. “Today, I run the stock area at our facility.”

His TSTC instructor, Isaac Gonzalez, knew Garcia would be a good fit at Delta.

“I spoke with him at an event, and he was interested in what the machine shop was. After that, he loved the fact that if he thought of it, he could make it,” Gonzalez said. “The thing that got him was that Delta is a great company, and all of the students there felt at home. With Juan, Delta loved his commitment and hard work, and that led to his promotions. As instructors, this means that we are teaching the right things — that students can start from the bottom and with hard work you can climb the ladder.”

Garcia credited TSTC for preparing him for the workforce, which in turn has led him to personal milestones.

“I signed off on my house, and that was awesome,” he said. “I would not have succeeded if it were not for all of my instructors and everyone at TSTC.”

Garcia is proud that his 19-year-old son, Juan Alexander Garcia, continued the family tradition at TSTC. The younger Garcia is currently taking classes in digital imaging at the Harlingen campus.

“I have always told him that education should be the first step. Every parent preaches that to their children,” Juan Garcia said. “I am watching him work toward success. In the end, I know that he is going to see the results that TSTC has done for me.”

Juan Alexander Garcia said watching his father take classes motivated him.

“I wanted to make a better life for myself and my family,” he said of the decision to attend TSTC. “I watched my dad taking classes, and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.”

The younger Garcia is finishing his second semester at TSTC, and he already knows what he wants to pursue.

“I plan to open a photo studio so that I can teach other people,” he said. “I want to inspire people to see things from a different perspective.”

Like his father, Juan Alexander Garcia said the TSTC faculty and staff have helped him on a daily basis.

“Everyone is very responsive and willing to help you. TSTC is a great place to go to school,” he said.

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TSTC HVAC Graduates in Harlingen to Experience Smart Technology in the Workplace

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Today’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians need to know more than basic electrical theory and refrigeration principles. As technology evolves, so does the need to be familiar with how smart technology is being used in HVAC systems.

Jorge Cabrera, lead instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program in Harlingen, said fifth-semester students take Advanced Air Conditioning Controls, which covers building automation systems.

“This is a new course we started teaching in Harlingen,” Cabrera said. “We used to concentrate more on the residential side of the industry, but we are slowly moving to get more students into commercial air conditioning and refrigeration.”

As technology evolves, so do the skills of HVAC technicians who can receive training through outsourcing or equipment manufacturers.

“Technology has definitely changed our industry, and we try to keep up with new technologies,” Cabrera said. “Now, technicians have to know about W-Fi  and some thermostats can be controlled with a phone, computer or tablet. Technicians will have to set up these devices with the homeowners’ Wi-Fi networks.”

Cabrera said some of the tools that technicians use to troubleshoot for problems include Bluetooth technology to create reports at job sites.

Cameron County had 270 HVAC technicians in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers is projected to rise nationally to more than 414,000 through 2028, according to the agency. The growth is expected to come from residential and commercial construction.

Cabrera said workers retiring from the HVAC field also contribute to the need for new workers.

“I definitely see growth in our area,” he said. “Last summer, which is our busiest time, we kept getting calls from contractors needing people.”

TSTC’s Harlingen campus offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and an HVAC technician certificate.

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TSTC grad continues family’s education tradition

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Angel Flores has seen the rewards of teaching children throughout his life.

The 34-year-old graduated from Texas State Technical College in the fall of 2019 with an associate of applied science degree in Education and Training. He is now a paraprofessional at Zavala Elementary School in Harlingen.

“I wanted to pursue a career in education because I wanted to be able to help kids,” said Flores, who was born in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and has been a resident of Harlingen since 2004. “Both of my parents are teachers and so is my wife. I have seen the great rewards of teaching. I want to be able to be a good influence for my students’ lives.”

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

TSTC provided me with the tools and skills to obtain my job. I got hired for my current job while I was doing my student teaching, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had.

Who at TSTC had the most influence on your success?

There have been many people at school who’ve had a great impact on my career. Many of my instructors have given me advice and always were there to help me out. But more than anything, my family is my biggest influence on pursuing my education.

What are your future goals?

My future goals are to become a bilingual certified teacher and work for HCISD (Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District). I also would like to get a master’s degree and become a school counselor.

What advice do you have for future TSTC students?

I would tell them to never give up. Getting an education is not an easy task, but it is worth it in the end.

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Spirit of giving: TSTC helps student avoid homelessness

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – From one day to the next, Texas State Technical College student Josephine Delgado faced homelessness. But TSTC was there to make sure that did not happen.

Delgado said that the Sunday she lost the security of having a roof over her head began as a fun day. She headed to church without a care in the world.

But when she got home, her life turned upside down.

“I lived with my sister in an apartment only down the road from the college,” she said. “It was a perfect setup. But without warning, my sister relocated to Corpus Christi with her children.”

Delgado had recently earned her associate degree in Business Management Technology at TSTC and was finishing up a few extra classes. She found herself worrying about where she would live, how she would pay for it, and how she would get to school and work if she had to move back to her former home in San Perlita more than 30 minutes away.

“I was panicking. I only had one day to find a new place. I had no car, so moving home was not an option,” said the 23-year-old.TSTC Housing student Josephine Delgado

Immediately Delgado put a phone call in to some friends and mentors at TSTC Student Life and Engagement, where she was a student worker.

She was advised to speak to TSTC housing and student support representatives to take a look at her options.

“Without the help I received from TSTC, and so quickly, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Delgado. “But as quickly as I lost my home, TSTC helped me find another.”

TSTC assisted Delgado with scholarships and grants to get her settled into her new home on campus.

The scholarships and grants awarded to Delgado came from donations contributed to TSTC’s employee giving campaign.

Employees can select to give to the Stephen & Susan Snyder Helping Hands Scholarship and to scholarship funds.

The type of housing assistance Delgado received, along with the student food pantry and emergency aid, fall under the auspices of Helping Hands.

The TSTC Foundation Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations Jennifer Colten said a recent study identified that 72% of students at TSTC’s Harlingen campus are in critical need of financial assistance, making employee contributions important.

“The Harlingen campus has the greatest percentage of economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “And if we can give students immediate assistance with things such as housing, which is such a gift.”

As for Delgado, her time as a student at TSTC will come to an end next spring. But she hopes to return to TSTC as a full-time employee so she can help others the way she has been helped.

“I am so thankful for TSTC. Because of the help I received, I was able to finish my education,” she said. “The culture at TSTC is one of service and support for their students and employees. And I want to be a part of that and help make a difference in someone’s life the way TSTC has made a difference in mine.”

TSTC alum finds second chance at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – By the time they are 63 years old, most people are thinking about retirement. But not Adan Chavez. He is just getting started on what he calls his second chance at life.

The Pharr native graduated from Texas State Technical College in 2018 with certificates in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.

But years earlier — long before the internet and cell phones were commonplace — Chavez had run afoul of the law and was incarcerated.

“It was a challenge coming back to school after being away for so long,” he said. “The technology was a lot newer too. Everyone is now connected. It was an eye-opener.”

Chavez feels blessed to have found TSTC.TSTC Aircraft Maintenance Adan Chavez

“Thanks be to God that I was given a second chance and that I made it through the (TSTC) program,” he said. “It was actually a lot of fun being around young energy; it was contagious.”

Chavez added that TSTC gave him an opportunity he may not have been given anywhere else.

“Mechanics has always been my thing, but airplanes have always fascinated me,” he said. “So my daughter helped me find a program that combines both, and it was definitely time well spent.”

While at TSTC, Chavez gained valuable, real-world experience on various types of aircraft that helped prepare him for the workforce.

“We got to practice what we learned in the classroom,” he said. “So when I graduated, not only was I familiar with the terms and theory, but I was familiar with how to complete processes on actual aircraft.”

Chavez credits the hands-on learning approach to his current success.

He is currently working as an airframe and powerplant mechanic at CV-580 in Brownsville.

“I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity of starting a new career,” said Chavez. “There have been so many people who have helped me get here. At TSTC there was always someone willing to help. This has set me up for a better future.”

Chavez said his goals are to learn as much as possible, branch out within the field, and climb the ladder to leadership roles.

“I’ve been given a second chance in all aspects, and I’m proof that’s it’s never too late to get an education and start again,” he said.

Aircraft Airframe Technology and Airframe Powerplant Technology are also available at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses.

Registration is underway for Spring 2020. For more information, visit

TSTC Physics moves the world through knowledge

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Physics is a study of matter, motion and behavior through space and time related to energy and force. In Texas State Technical College’s Physics program, students receive the building blocks to support technical programs and educational goals.

TSTC Physics campus department chair Jose Alvarez said that the mastery of physics can lead a student into a multitude of career opportunities.TSTC Physics

He went on to explain the types of skills that students learn and how physics can be applied outside the classroom.

What is the length of the program?

The program is five semesters. Upon successful completion, a student will earn an Associate of Science degree.

What can students expect when they graduate?

Students in this program will gain a strong foundation in the fundamentals of physics and mathematics. Many of the students go on to, or have completed, a technical program such as engineering, education and training, or computer science.

What skills do students learn in Physics?

Students learn the math and chemistry behind areas such as acceleration, motion, electricity, magnetism, optics, mechanics and heat.

What types of technology are used to learn these skills?

In this program, students have access to labs and numerous tools for experiments such as speed-of-sound testers, electrostatic generators, force tables, compressors, condensers and mini-boilers.

How do these skills prepare a student for the workforce?

Physics is a stepping stone into more in-depth learning after graduation. Many students who graduate from this program and continue their education will go on to find careers in engineering, computer programming, computer science, or medical equipment design and repair.