(FORT BEND) – Jacob Thompson never imagined he would become a college student, much less a graduate, but on December 11 he will receive his associate degree in Precision Machining Technology from Texas State Technical College.
“Growing up, I never thought I would make it to college,” said Thompson. “I never expected to get a degree in anything, but TSTC really did make it possible for me.”
Thompson lost his mom to lupus before he was a teenager. He said his dad was never in the picture. These circumstances made it necessary for him to enter into the foster care system after his mom passed away.
From 2006 to 2008 he waited in the system while his maternal grandparents organized and processed all the legal paperwork needed to adopt him. Thompson was finally adopted by them at the age of 14.
“My grandparents were the greatest factor in my decision to go to college,” said Thompson. “My grandpa always told me to go to school while I was young, that it would make everything worthwhile. He pushed me to be something and helped me to realize school is an important part of life.”
After graduating from high school in 2012, Thompson was unsure about college and what he wanted to study. He took some core classes at a junior college in East Texas before deciding to work at Houston Custom Metal Works as a water jet machine operator.
“It was at Houston Custom Metal Works that I found my passion,” said Thompson. “I knew I needed to follow my interest and so after researching I found the precision manufacturing technology TSTC and enrolled.”
For Thompson the apple did not fall far from the tree. He followed his grandfather’s example, and like him, continued to work to pay for college. He worked 40-hour weeks during the night shifts to pay for school.
“My grandpa’s example was my driving force. He put himself through college working at a cotton farm,” said Thompson. “So working hard was my only option. Putting myself through college definitely makes this degree that much more rewarding.”
After graduation, Thompson will complete his remaining academic core pre-requisites and transfer to the University of Houston to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Thompson said TSTC really prepared him and encouraged him to continue his education.
“TSTC really prepared me to move on. My time here as a student has been so fulfilling,” said Thompson. “It really laid a solid foundation for me in my industry. It was a real eye-opener to all my future possibilities.”
Thompson said his instructor Michael Barnes really encouraged him and all his students to step out of their comfort zones and really explore the precision machining industry.
Precision Machining Technology at TSTC is a hands-on program that teaches students a series of machine tool operation courses. Students also learn skills in precision measurement, blueprint reading and heat treatment of metals. After completion, graduates can find jobs in commercial and military aircraft and automotive tool and oil tool manufacturing.
“Mr. Barnes never limited us. If he we wanted to try something he was helping us every step of the way,” said Thompson. “He even gave us the opportunity to attend Houstex Tool Show and encouraged us to visit every vendor and pursue trainings and certifications offered to us.”
Thompson was able to earn certificates to a computer-aided manufacturing software; and to make blue prints using the AutoCAD software and is highly recognized in his chosen field.
“Jacob has been a great student and a very hard worker in everything he does,” said Michael Barnes, Precision Machining Technology Instructor and Department Chair. “I know Jacob plans to continue with his education beyond TSTC, and he will have a very rewarding future.”
Thompson hopes to one day work for Lockheed Martin or Halliburton and said he would owe it to everything he has learned at TSTC and along the way.
“My grandpa always said, ‘The day you stop learning is the day you cease to exist,'” said Thompson. “Everything I’m doing I’m doing for me, but especially for him.”
Thompson is one of five students graduating December 11 from TSTC Fort Bend County’s campus. Graduation will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Waco Convention Center.
For more information on Precision Machine Technology call 281-239-1587.