STC Diesel Technology program connects students with employers
STC Diesel Technology 2014 graduate Noel Munoz, fleet maintenance manager with Republic Services, was among those employers who came together for the college’s annual Diesel Technology Expo which brought more than 100 students together with employers in the region.
Through its annual Diesel Expo, South Texas College’s Diesel Technology program brought employers from across the region together with more than 100 students seeking to break into the industry for the first time.
With founding faculty of the program looking on, students sought to take advantage of the networking opportunities with major companies in attendance including French Ellison, Rush Peterbilt, John Deere and Holt Caterpillar along with diesel technicians from United States Armed Services including the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army and Navy.
“This has been created as a hybrid between a career day and expo and is just an opportunity for the students to meet these employers and really see who is out there in the workforce including the trucking industry, private shops, agricultural industry and even emergency repair shops,” said Diesel Technology Instructor Justin Garza, who also coordinated the event. “Our goal is to represent all different branches of diesel technology here and to let students know we are bringing the employers to them. This is the students’ opportunity to see what is really out there and learn how to network. We want them to succeed in this industry and be prepared on the way to the next step of their careers.”
Also in attendance at the event were Diesel Technology “godfathers” including Manuel Niño and Paul Scoville who established the program with 10 students at STC in 1996. The program has since grown to at least 150 students as of the fall 2023 semester.
The program at STC was the biggest first step for me in this industry. With that in mind, it was extremely important for me to come back to STC as an employer to help these students like the college helped me.
Nino and Scoville are regarded as the originators of the program, which since its inception has sought to prepare qualified technicians for the workforce by giving them the skills necessary for diesel engine repair, electrical and electronic control systems, hydraulics, air brakes and many more through a hybrid lecture and lab work program.
“We have a lot of employers who are here for the students, so we know the program is obviously moving in the right direction,” said Scoville, who was faculty in the Diesel Technology program from 1996 to 2021. “One of the most positive aspects we see today is that the program is doing a great job in keeping up with the new technology, which is always a challenge, and then the enrollment is great, which means the program has a great reputation in the community. They’re doing so well, and we are so proud.”
Roman Garcia said STC’s Diesel Technology program changed his life, and now in his role as an employer makes it a priority to change the lives of students entering the industry.
Among the very first students who entered the program in the mid-nineties, Garcia said he was a sophomore at La Joya High School when STC began offering the program as an elective.
Every day he would attend class at 6 a.m. and after graduating high school in 2000 was offered a job by truck manufacturer Peterbilt, where he would be employed for eight years until 2008.
Garcia is now the owner of Diesel Fleet Care in Palmview, Texas. His business, which has operated since 2010, is a diesel shop employing eight mechanics specializing in fleet repair servicing major employers in the region including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, McCoy’s Building Supply and many others, he said.
Now more than 20 years since graduating from STC, Garcia said he currently serves on the Diesel Technology program advisory board.
As an employer, Garcia said he was able to confirm at least two potential job interviews with students at the event.
“The program at STC was the biggest first step for me in this industry,” Garcia said. “With that in mind, it was extremely important for me to come back to STC as an employer to help these students like the college helped me. I feel we are blessed with this program, and the instructors are amazing. Just being on the (advisory) board, I get all the feedback from others in the industry, so I know how amazing it is to have this program.”
Dilan Guerrero was among those students looking to network with employers in attendance at the Expo. As a Diesel Technology student who will be graduating in the near future, Guerrero said he was encouraged by those companies who were already offering him job opportunities outside of the region.
“The feedback has been amazing. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with these employers face-to-face and ask questions. This is a great opportunity because a lot of these companies are nationwide, which gives you the option to take your career even further,” Guerrero said. “But really, I think the most important feature about this event is realizing we have options. It’s great to have that understanding that there isn’t just one company out there for us, we have our choice so we can find the best one to utilize the talents we have.”
For more information on STC’s Diesel Technology Program visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/diesel/.