(HARLINGEN) – Saul Pizano liked to watch space shuttle launches on television when he was growing up.
Now, that fascination with space is enabling the Texas State Technical College student to learn from professionals in their environment.
Pizano, 22, began a summer internship in June in NASA’s Lithium Ion Battery Thermal Management System at Johnson Space Center in Houston. His role is to help design a thermal management system used in batteries for usage in space. He is scheduled to finish in mid-August with an option of continuing in the fall.
“Anything that is sent into space requires power requires batteries,” Pizano said.
Mark Rosas, an instructor in TSTC’s Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics program, said internships are important for a student’s future success in the workplace.
“Internships in general are awesome,” he said. “They (the students) get real-world experience and learning beyond a classroom setting. It puts you one step above a competitor in a job search.”
Pizano took a week off from his internship to compete in late June on a two-man team in Additive Manufacturing at SkillsUSA’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The competition involved using knowledge of 3-D printing and computer aided drafting.
“You are applying what you learn at SkillsUSA and can apply this to work,” he said.
The trip to Kentucky also marked the first time Pizano had been out of Texas.
“I want to travel more,” he said. “There are so many things to experience.”
Pizano grew up in Harlingen and graduated in 2014 from Harlingen High School.
“I helped my dad a lot when I was smaller,” he said. “He would take me out to these construction sites. I loved seeing how all the houses are designed. I liked the idea of creating something from nothing.”
Pizano graduated from TSTC in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and earlier this year received an Associate of Science degree in Physics.
After his internship, he wants to study mechanical engineering and physics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
“We tell our students that finishing an associate degree is only a stepping stone into something better,” said David Campos, TSTC’s statewide division director for Architecture, Science and Engineering Technology. “They can make a real good career out of it or as a stepping stone.”
Pizano wants to one day work full time in a civil service job at NASA.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.