BY Amanda Sotelo
A Samsung virtual lab and a car with wireless capabilities are only a couple of the exhibits that more than 100 high school students had the opportunity of experiencing during the AT&T Showcase hosted by Texas State Technical College and AT&T.
“We’re excited that AT&T chose our campus as the host site for this event,” said David Sanchez, lead instructor for Telecommunications Technology. “This gives us an opportunity to show students what we offer here at TSTC.”
The showcase is the first of its type for TSTC and the Rio Grande Valley. It is an initiative set forth by HACEMOS, an employee relations group within AT&T that works to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers and provides scholarships for minority students.
AT&T Director of External and Legislative Affairs J.D. Salinas said the goal with this event is to increase awareness nationwide on the importance of STEM careers and show students first-hand what types of career opportunities they can pursue.
“It’s important to continuously keep parents and students exposed to STEM fields,” he said. “And a lot of the employees that work for AT&T are graduates from TSTC and so partnering for this event was a great opportunity to get students familiar with a college that provides the hands-on training needed for our industry.”
La Feria and San Benito high school students got the chance to explore STEM careers at the AT&T Showcase, which was also being held in nearly 35 cities across the country, including Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Mostly juniors and seniors, students invited to the showcase already show an interest in telecommunications or networking and are currently enrolled in related classes at their high school.
San Benito High School senior Robert Anderson said he is interested in pursuing a career in computer networking or maintenance after graduating this year. Anderson said TSTC is among his college choices.
“I’ve learned so much today from cutting fiber optic wires to being introduced to new tools and technologies,” he said. “The hands-on activities make a difference.”
In addition to being exposed to virtual reality labs and vehicles of the future, students also had hands-on activities such as learning how a DIRECTV dish works and how to work with and cut fiber optic wire. Students also heard from Louisiana’s AT&T President Sonia Perez.
In her presentation, Perez mentioned that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 40 million high skilled workers in their industry, making trained employees a high demand.
That is why TSTC and AT&T are long-time partners in industry. AT&T representatives sit on the Telecommunications Technology advisory board at the college, guiding faculty and students in the changes and updates in technologies and industry policies.
“It’s important that we partner with industry because our goal is to train students and get them looked at and hired by companies such as AT&T,” said Sanchez. “And introducing high school students to these types of opportunities early is the key.”
Telecommunications Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, and those who pursue either a certificate or associate degree can expect to learn how to design and configure voice and data communications systems, test and evaluate hardware and software and provide user support by diagnosing network and device problems.
For more information on Telecommunications Technology call 956-364-4843 or visit tstc.edu.