TSTC Automotive Technology program adapts to teaching during pandemic

(WACO, Texas) – Automotive Technology students at Texas State Technical College continue to gain insight into what their careers can look like upon graduation.

“It’s a good time in the automotive industry because of how everything is advancing,” said George Williams, lead instructor in TSTC’s Automotive Technology program in Waco.

The program’s students and faculty have relied more on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since spring 2020, TSTC’s technical programs have been taught either exclusively online or in a hybrid format that combines online lectures with on-campus labs.

TSTC students, faculty and staff continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in wearing masks, not gathering in groups and sanitizing hands and work areas. All of this is being done to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Automotive Department, said the program is using a new e-learning and e-simulator learning management system called Electude. He said students are becoming prepared for what they will see in training at dealerships.

“They need to have a good understanding of the material and theory of the given learning activities, expected outcomes, and objectives before attempting the hands-on skills practicals,” Cervantez said.

Jonathan Tooke, of Teague, is pursuing the Automotive Technology – Chrysler Specialization certificate. He said his cell phone comes in handy to take photos in class of brakes, engines and transmissions before he dismantles them. He is getting experience working at a dealership in Fairfield doing oil changes and minor repair work.

Devontae Bible, of Waco, is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technology – Chrysler Specialization certificate. Bible, a graduate of Waco High School, said he chose to pursue Automotive Technology because of his appreciation for fast cars.

“I heard TSTC was the best of the best,” he said.

Bible is getting internship experience while working at a Waco dealership doing oil changes and working with technicians on minor problems.

“I like the job,” he said. “The environment is cool. It’s good to be around.”

The Automotive Technology program will adapt to another new way of teaching starting in fall 2022. Williams said the program will shift to a performance-based education model. 

Performance-based education allows students to have flexibility with their schedules as they master set competencies. Students can build on existing knowledge and may have the opportunity to graduate earlier than planned. Students will still have semesters, but the number of classes will vary.

“The students will get more one-on-one time with instructors,” Williams said. “The student will schedule lab times with an instructor.”

There were more than 51,000 automotive service mechanics and technicians as of May 2019 in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The workers made an annual mean wage that was more than $45,000.

Automotive service mechanics and technicians will have to adapt in the next decade to the development of electric vehicles, and cameras and sensors being added to cars and trucks.

February is Career and Technical Education Month. During this month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support its mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” every day. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to tstc.edu/programs.