TSTC program produces hardworking employees

HARLINGEN — Orlando Delgado shined a flashlight into the holes in the dashboard.

“The air conditioner was not blowing to the front,” said Delgado, 32, as he worked on the Grand Marquis.

“The ducts are in the back,” he said. “To get to them, you have to remove the dash.”

Delgado, a graduate of the automotive program at Texas State Technical College, has worked at the Midas shop at 1150 S. Commerce St. about a year. He started out as a “general service technician,” changing oil and checking fluids, and then he worked his way up.

His four fellow mechanics also have taken the same TSTC program. They moved steadily about the shop as they changed oil, performed tune-ups and tried to figure out why an engine was overheating.

One mechanic with a red rag dangling from his pocket peered closely at a spark plug as he scraped it clean. A car hood slammed shut and the clicking of ratchets cut the air.

Manager Jose Batres knew exactly what he was getting when he hired the TSTC graduates. Aspiring mechanics in that program receive plenty of hands-on training along with their book studies.

That’s not always the case when mechanics from other backgrounds approach him for employment.

“Believe me, we get master mechanics sometimes and they can answer any question you ask,” Batres said with a trace of disbelief. “But when you put him on the floor, the difference is like he’s speaking Chinese and you’re speaking Spanish.”

Sometimes people complete automotive programs but they still don’t have the necessary skills to succeed as a mechanic, Jon Kerry Stutz, owner of the shop on S. Commerce.

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