BY Amanda Sotelo
Roberto Gonzalez grew up watching his father work on automobiles, and knew that was the career he wanted to pursue, so the Los Fresnos native enrolled in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College in 2014.
Two years later, Gonzalez received his associate degree with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and immediately got hired at Gillman Chevrolet of Harlingen.
“I needed to start working after graduation and because TSTC’s training prepared me for the field, I was able to find a job right away,” said Gonzalez. “Now my twin brother goes to TSTC for machining and I’m helping him pay for his classes.”
Gillman’s Service Manager Ramiro Salguero said although Gonzalez has only been there a short time, he is already very impressed.
“Roberto is very productive and always ready to work,” said Salguero. “Coming in new he was already prepared to begin working as an entry-level tech.”
In the four years that Salguero has been service manager, he has hired more than 20 TSTC graduates like Gonzalez from the Automotive Technology program. He said when positions are available, he calls on TSTC for candidates.
“It’s very hard to find skilled, experienced technicians now a days,” said Salguero. “So having TSTC offer this program is a great advantage to service departments like ours; they (graduates) come to us with experience.”
Salguero said hiring TSTC graduates ensures that he will get people who are already trained to use the equipment in their service shop. He added that it is also easier for them to get hired as entry-level technicians straight out of college.
“Students who attend TSTC get all of the hands-on training they need to be successful in their career,” said Salguero. “Those that I have hired are ready to work and focused on getting work experience. They know what it takes to prove themselves in the field.”
Salguero added that Gillman Honda in San Benito also hires TSTC graduates.
“My door is always opened,” said Salguero. “I’m happy to give any TSTC graduate a chance if this is what they really want.”
Automotive Technology Department Chair and Instructor Abel Castillo said it is an advantage to students knowing that experts in the industry are hiring program graduates straight out of college or even before graduating.
“Our students have so much opportunity available to them,” said Castillo. “Our certificates and associate degree give our students unlimited possibilities.”
Students who enroll in Automotive Technology will get hands-on training in automotive systems ranging from electrical and brakes to air conditioning. There are three available tracks that a student can pursue – certificate, certificate II and an associate degree.
For more information on the Automotive Technology program call 956-364-4576. The first day of class is August 29. To register or apply anytime visit tstc.edu.