TWC supports future architects at STC through JET Grant Award
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TWC Commissioner of Labor Julian Alvarez was in attendance July 15 to announce a $200,000 award to STC’s Architectural Engineering Design Technology Program through the commission’s JET Grant program.
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced its support for South Texas College as the institution trains new students seeking careers as architectural and civil drafters.
TWC presented STC with a Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant in the amount of $204,058 to be used for the purchase and installation of equipment and hands-on training for up to 130 students in the Architectural Engineering Design Technology (AEDT) program.
TWC Commissioner of Labor Julian Alvarez joined STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. and Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. at a special check signing ceremony Friday celebrating the start of the grant.
STC trustees in attendance included Board Chair Rose Benavidez who was joined by lawmakers and leaders in manufacturing and workforce development including representatives from the offices of state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Rep. Sergio Munoz, Workforce Solutions Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frank Almaraz, McAllen Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Keith Patridge, Weslaco EDC CEO Steven M. Valdez.
Solis said Friday’s announcement represented what he termed “bold solutions and global impacts.”
“We are going through a unique trajectory experience through our economic models when you see inflation and recession but then at the same time, we are seeing low unemployment and a huge demand for employees. Clearly the bottom line is what we are celebrating here – that higher education is a solution for this paradigm.” Solis said at the event. “The solution is the college providing unique and innovative action that will take team effort and yield impactful results.”
“With the RGV growing and expanding, there is construction everywhere and the direct impact is a demand for skilled workers including computer-aided design (CAD) software technicians that can draw up construction plans and create visualization projects like virtual reality environments, augmented reality models and physical models… We have had students enrolled in our certificate programs start working before graduating due to the demand."
STC student Gualberto Gomez, a graduate of the AEDT program who after spending time in the architecture industry recently decided to come back to STC to study construction supervision to further his knowledge in the field.
“In our field, it’s always exciting that we can express whatever ideas we are imagining. This is what the AEDT program gives us,” Gomez said. “Through the tools at our disposal, we make these ideas come true and we carry that into the workforce. We are ready and trained on how to build, how to design and how to use the equipment. This is so useful in the real world outside of college.”
TWC has recognized architectural and civil drafting as an in-demand profession for the local economy.
“With the RGV growing and expanding, there is construction everywhere and the direct impact is a demand for skilled workers including computer-aided design (CAD) software technicians that can draw up construction plans and create visualization projects like virtual reality environments, augmented reality models and physical models,” said Laura Salas, department chair of the AEDT program. “In the last few years, we’ve had a high number of employers requesting our CAD technicians. We have had students enrolled in our certificate programs start working before graduating due to the demand. More recently we’ve had students work across the Valley because they have heard of our highly skilled technicians coming out of our program.”
The JET grant is part of an initiative by TWC to enhance curriculum and high-demand job training for students in high school and community colleges.
JET grants provide potential economic returns by supporting new and emerging industries through expanded career and technical education opportunities.
“A skilled trade is meaningful…and STC is way ahead of the game,” said Alvarez. “Going to STC is just as valuable as going to the University of Texas, and every student should have the option to go where they want.”