The local branch of TSTC (Texas State Technical College) West Texas held an Automotive Technology Open House on Thursday morning, August 30, 2012 to feature their new Alternative Fuel Simulators.
Starting with this fall semester, students in the Automotive Technology program will receive training in diagnostics, service and repair of light duty diesel, fuel /electric and compressed natural gas vehicles. Simulators include a Ford light diesel truck, GM light diesel truck, Toyota Prius Hybrid and a compressed natural gas engine.
The event opened with a welcome by TSTC West Texas President Gail Lawrence, followed by an introduction of several guests in the audience. Among the presented dignitaries were the speakers at the gathering, such as State Representative Susan King; the district director of State Senator Robert Duncan, John Austin Stokes; and TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser.
Also introduced were TSTC Regent J.V. Martin, the Associate Vice Chancellor Roger Miller, Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough and Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham. She later introduced Foundation board member Bill Johnson and TSTC President Emeritus Homer Taylor, thanking him for his support of the school.
Lawrence expressed her excitement in the opportunity the school has to offer the latest training opportunity within the Automotive Technology program in Sweetwater. With Sweetwater being the only place in the entire state to have these simulators, TSTC is ahead of the trend in this particular training.
TSTC West Texas recently received a $295,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to purchase four alternative fuel simulators/trainers to enhance the program's curriculum. A member of the Workforce Commission thanked the school for allowing them to be part of this successful initiative toward the end of the meeting.
Following Lawrence was Chancellor Reeser with a few comments, in which he acknowledged the staff and faculty of the school in their pursuit to "enrich the lives of the students", which in turn will "make them employable for jobs across Texas."
With this opportunity, TSTC will now be able to train a brand new workforce area, Reeser explained. Over 30% of jobs within the state now require training like the college provides--in between the high school degree and the bachelor's degree.
While the recession has made a national impact, Reeser noted that Texas has proven to be an exception. TSTC now has a competitive advantage to continue training students with projects like this new venture.
He also praised leaders within the state for doing their part in filling the needs of Texas, which will allow TSTC to continue their efforts to offer middle-skills training--"the key to a prosperous economy".
Next to take the podium was John Austin Stokes, the district director for State Senator Robert Duncan. Stokes read a letter from Duncan, who was unable to attend the open house due to a prior commitment.
In the letter, Duncan sent his "sincere congratulations" on the achievement. The school has made an impact on the state's workforce, as the knowledge for these types of repair is critical and the hard work is valued.
Representative King then made her remarks, praising TSTC for taking the initiative in obtaining the grant and thanking the students for their desire to learn. She noted that sometimes, vocational jobs can be more rewarding financially than someone who obtains a bachelor's degree.
She also thanked Senator Duncan for this work within the district, but noted that today was a celebration of the students and their education. She urged those in attendance to learn something new from the gathering and to value the students who would benefit from the simulators.
Closing out the ceremony was Rick Denbow, the Automotive Technology Director, who praised the individual who helped the school secure the grant, James Butler. The grant also includes assistance for up to nineteen students to receive funds to be used for the purchase of tools required in the program.
In addition to training students, the grant also calls for training incumbent workers to improve their skill sets, which could lead to advancement within their job positions.
The instructors were also recognized--Si Acuna and Henry Ortega--before the Automotive Technology faculty and students in attendance offered an overview and demonstrations. Attendees were also able to ask questions about the program, and a reception was held in the foyer.