Tag Archives: Wind Energy

TSTC Student Veteran First in Family to Graduate College

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When Texas State Technical College student veteran, Juan Lopez decided to go back to school, he didn’t realize the new, literal heights he would reach with his degree. 

Lopez, from San Antonio, is a student in the Wind Energy Technology program and is expected to graduate in August 2019 with his Associate of Applied Science degree. Before graduating, Lopez has already started working in the field for Airway Services, Inc. as a wind technician scaling 300-feet-tall wind turbines.  

“I drove past wind turbines a lot and always wondered about them, but I had no clue that there was a job that let you climb 300 feet up to work on them. Once I did more research into the program, it seemed right up my ally with all the maintenance, problem solving and working with my hands,” Lopez said. 

Before starting at TSTC, Lopez served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2012. After the military, he worked in the oil field but decided he needed more job security. .

“Wind turbines are right in my backyard, the work is steady and the money is good. I can be close to home and provide for my wife and daughter,” Lopez said. 

Lopez says his 10-month-old daughter was a large part of the reason why he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. 

“There’s a sense of accomplishment for me, but also I want to do it for her to give her the best I can,” he said. 

Lopez’s dedication to his school work was obvious to instructors Ron Rendon and Mary Madden, both Navy veterans.

Juan was one of my best students;  always on time, assignments were always completed on time.  He was a mentor to several students, and has a great work ethic, always going above and beyond in every aspect,” Rendon, instructor for wind turbine technology said. 

As classes went on, Lopez found out he shared more than just veteran status with Madden –  they had served on the same aircraft carrier – the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). 

“Juan and I spent some time remembering life on board ship and compared notes on tours we both made overseas,” Madden, instructor for electromechanical technology said. “He is a hard worker, and he wants to take care of his family.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Wind Energy Association based in Washington DC, Wind Turbine Technology is “the fastest growing job in America.”  Lopez says he is trying to recruit his military and oil field friends to come check out the wind program.

“I mean there’s nothing quite like it when you’re getting to work that high up. And, you’ve got a real chance to move up in the company with the degree from TSTC,” Lopez said.

Lopez encourages prospective students to stay motivated and find what will drive them to succeed. 

Fall Semester registration is ongoing right now. For more information about TSTC, log on to tstc.edu.


Juan Lopez is a TSTC Wind Energy Technology student veteran working for Airway Services, Inc. He is expected to graduate August 2019.

TSTC Alumnus Boosts Wind Energy Production

(Sweetwater) – There is change in the air: a change toward renewable energy. And Texas State Technical College alumnus John Nichols is a driving force behind that change.

Nichols graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater in 2010.

He is now employed by North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction. He served as the company’s vice president of renewable energy from 2016 to 2018 and is now its senior director of business development.

Nichols credits his time at TSTC, coupled with hard work, for his success in helping to lead the charge for wind energy. He encourages others to take advantage of the rewarding industry.

“Wind energy is something exciting to be part of, and there is no better time than now to be part of the renewable energy revolution,” Nichols said.

Nichols was a nontraditional student who sold his successful real estate business in 2007 to pursue his passion for renewable energy.

“I remember John very well,” Rick Denbow, TSTC in West Texas provost, said. “Wind energy was an emerging industry at the time in far West Texas, but John saw how a technical degree from TSTC could prepare him for a great-paying career in the wind industry. I am not surprised by his success.”

After graduating from TSTC, Nichols worked for Siemens Gamesa, where he was promoted five times in six years, eventually becoming field engineering manager.

“I got to travel the world while moving up in the company,” Nichols said. “I spent 18 months in Brazil, Chile, Peru and other parts of Latin America working on wind energy projects.”

At Wanzek Construction, Nichols plays an active role in identifying new and creative ways to keep wind competitive in the renewable energy market.

“With new technology coming and the offshore market growing, we’re seeing a decrease in cost for wind energy, which makes it even more competitive with fossil fuels,” Nichols said.

In Texas, wind energy makes up 14.89 percent of energy produced statewide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“It’s an industry on the upswing, and it’s an industry people from all walks of life can be successful in,” Billie Jones, TSTC Wind Energy Technology statewide department chair, said.

Part of Nichols’ success, and what he looks for when recruiting new talent, is common sense and life experience.

“It’s important to have a passion and interest for this field. But also to be a good technician you have to have some common sense and be comfortable around machinery. You need to be reliable and be willing to do the work,” said Nichols.

Nichols hopes others will recognize the potential available to them in wind energy.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus John Nichols helps to lead the charge for wind energy.