WACO, TX — Texas A&M undergraduate engineering students have found a home in Texas State Technical College this summer, as they continue on the path towards graduation and a career in engineering.
The Engineering Bachelor’s + Program provides Texas A&M undergraduate students the ability to receive hands-on professional experience provided by Texas State Technical College (TSTC).
In order to complete the requirement, students are asked to participate in an approved engineering-centric activity, described as high-impact learning. Something, TSTC is providing to Aggie students who you’d on TSTC’s Waco campus today.
Daniel Morales is a Texas A&M engineering student. He's on his last leg of a nine-week-long trek of courses at TSTC with their Welding Technology program.
"At first, I didn't know what to expect," Texas A&M student Daniel Morales said. "I didn't know how the instructors were going to be. But honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better instructor. These guys are willing to stay after hours, work with us, and make sure we get everything down and finish all our objectives."
Morales lives in Dallas, where he said he works on Fridays and Saturdays.
"But I'm back here every Monday through Thursday," Morales said.
From the first day of class, Morales said, the experience has been one of action.
Edward Sanchez, an Instructor with TSTC Welding Program and TSTC graduate, said the work ethic displayed by his students has been exemplary.
"This is the first group we've had from A&M and they've been a great group of guys and ladies," Sanchez said.
"These are engineering students, so I'm not sure how many of them will be welders, but it's a great skill to have."
In exploring how to fulfill his ENGR(x) requirement, Morales said he came across the Bachelor's + Program, which struck his interest in particular because he's always wanted to learn how to weld.
"I always had a passion to learn how to weld. And then I decided I want to do petroleum engineering. And I knew that welding is a backbone of our industry."
From one technology program in Waco to another, the Texas A&M Engineering students earning their ENGR(x) requirement aren't confined to just the Welding Technology program.
"These guys are in the middle of their engineering degrees at Texas A&M but they came here to get hands-on experience. And that's what TSTC provides," Brandon McMahan, TSTC's statewide chair of the Robotics Technology program, said.
They're also receiving hands-on instruction with TSTC's Robotics Technology Program.
"They've come here to do some AC and DC electrical work and also do the programming for PLCs (programmable logic controllers)," McMahan said. "Just so they have the understanding when they get in the professional field or are placed in the supervision of others, they know what to do."
"We're messing with the software and our professor is doing a great job of giving us labs," Texas A&M Engineering student George Monsivais said. "Tasks like, create a garage where it counts how many cars have gone in."
Monsivais is from Irving and said he has two more years before he finishes his degree, and the Bachelor's+ program provided at TSTC has allowed him to get a glimpse of what life will be like once he graduates.
"One of the things you can do with PLCs, is become a control systems engineer," he explained. "So I'll probably do something like that where I could be like a technician and be more hands-on. Because at the end of the day, I'm getting an engineering degree, but I want to be able to do stuff hands-on."
But perhaps, just as important as receiving credit towards an engineering degree for students like Morales and Monsivais, is the opportunity the program has allowed them to flesh out their passion.
"Throughout my life, I would always be like tinkering with like electronics stuff," Monsivais said. "I'd be like taking apart computers, just to see how they would work. Or take apart clocks to see how the clock mechanism would. Now, I'm working with programmable logic controllers. It's great."
For instructors like Edward Sanchez, who graduated from TSTC himself, seeing the result of the nine-weeks worth of courses on his students has been a rewarding experience.
When asked if he feels a slight amount of nostalgia in teaching today, Sanchez jokingly said yes.
"Yes," he said. "I've been on that side of things myself."
The Bachelor’s + Program gives students their ENGR(x) zero-credit hour requirement for graduation.