From tortilla chips to rocket ships: STC celebrates Manufacturing Day
South Texas College Advanced Manufacturing Technology assistant department chair and instructor Alberto Farias offers a demonstration of STC’s manufacturing equipment to students from Vanguard Rembrandt. The college recently celebrated Manufacturing Day along with its partners in industry, which is dedicated to showing the reality and future of modern manufacturing careers.
South Texas College in partnership with the hundreds of manufacturing companies across the region recently joined in a national effort taking place throughout October called Manufacturing Day, opening their doors to students, parents, educators and community leaders with the goal to help show the reality and future of modern manufacturing careers.
STC has celebrated Manufacturing Day since 2010. This year, more than 150 students from six different school districts from across the Rio Grande Valley visited with college staff, faculty and the manufacturers to promote understanding of the variety of jobs available in industry.
“This is so important and has been created so students understand the industry they are going into. It’s one thing when you are in school and working with the equipment and machines, but it’s another thing to go in and see products being made from the beginning to the end,” said STC Advanced Manufacturing Technology department chair Erika Guerra. “It’s also useful so the students see the products being made here in Texas and especially the Rio Grande Valley. I think when they are able to see all these different products being made, it motivates them to consider this a real opportunity for a future career. This really opens their eyes to the options that are out there.”
Students see the products being made here in Texas and especially the Rio Grande Valley. I think when they are able to see all these different products being made, it motivates them to consider this a real opportunity for a future career. This really opens their eyes to the options that are out there.
For its 13th annual Manufacturing Day event, STC partnered with South Texas Manufacturers Association (STMA), an organization which represents at least 99 companies across the region, to create tours of facilities for students in attendance. The afternoon portion of the event included a meet and greet session with plant managers as well as hiring representatives from various manufacturing companies.
Mike Willis, executive director with STMA and Rubi Cantu, Human Resources manager at Regal Rexnord were guest speakers at the morning event. Also in attendance was STC alumni Gary Rhea, production manager at IHC Suspension. Rhea received a bachelor’s degree in Technology Management from STC in 2021 and then received a master’s degree in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Tyler. He also served as an instructor of Advanced Manufacturing at STC for seven years from 2015 to 2023.
“I like to tell everyone that in the Valley we make everything from tortilla chips to rocket ships,” Willis said. “In the old days manufacturing required people with strong backs who could lift heavy equipment, but now it’s all about automation and technology. Now we need people with strong minds and the key is education.”
Andrea Garcia, 15, a student from Vanguard Rembrandt in Pharr said she attended Manufacturing Day looking for inspiration as she considers a future career in Aerospace Engineering. As a high school sophomore, Garcia said she is looking at a certificate in manufacturing, which she says will bolster her career prospects.
“Just being here puts me in a good position. I believe my future career can be supported by a sold background in manufacturing,” Garcia said. “If my career track changes, I know I will still have options for work, and even at this stage, the contacts I am making in events like these puts me miles ahead from those who haven’t decided if this is right for them. I know this is the right path for me.”
STC student Jesus Gutierrez is currently pursuing a Mechatronics Technician certificate and attended the Manufacturing Day event to connect with those in companies related to machinery and robotics, he said.
“I want to be able to repair and give maintenance to machinery, it’s something that I have always been interested in, and to know about the electrical or electronical aspects of the machinery. That’s why I want to get this certificate so I can grow as a person and a professional,” Gutierrez said. “Having the opportunity to speak with these professionals here…we get to learn more from them, and find out how we can even improve on the knowledge that they have shared. It is important for us to get the chance to talk to people from these companies.”
For more information about STC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology program visit, www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/manufacturing/#Mech-Cert.