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Tech College is Williamson County’s hidden gem

Opinion Editorial by Commissioner Cook

  • 12 October 2017
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 9016

s that students are assured a well paid job within six months of earning an associate’s degree. If not, they get their tuition back for certain disciplines. That’s a testament to the college’s top quality curricula.

The college offers a wide array of highly specialized technical programs. It’s an affordable education at about $6,000 to $7,000 total for a certificate. Its top three and most sought-after programs are industrial maintenance, precision machining and welding, closely followed by cybersecurity that is fast gaining popularity.

During my visit, Smith repeatedly emphasized the college’s best assets are its instructors. “Most have been working in the industry 20 to 30 years,” he said. “They are skilled, talented and passionate about what they do.”

I was privileged to meet these impressive instructors on a quiet day, since there were no classes that Friday, just labs. They reminded me of Randy, who also teaches HVAC to nearby high schoolers.

Our first stop on the tour was the machine shop, where we observed how students perform similar tasks to what they would be doing in an industrial environment to prepare them for the real jobs, many of which are within a 15-mile radius of the school. Machinists use machine tools such as lathes, milling machines and CNC machines to produce precision metal parts that can range from bolts to automobile pistons. The classroom also had a 3-D machine to create prototypes.

Next, we visited the welding lab, where students earn one-year certificates and 16-month associate’s degrees. I also observed a robotic arm that students use for manufacturing jobs, performing more precise work. This machinery is highly utilized in the automotive industry.

As we walked into the next, much cooler classroom, I laughed because it was the HVAC lab. HVAC is always in demand, and the pay scale is quite attractive. Not only do the students learn how to repair and maintain air conditioning and heating units, but they also acquire business skills, customer relations, safety, budgeting, ethics and care of a company’s trucks and tools.

Our next stop was at the industrial maintenance lab that trains future workers for a variety of careers. This class teaches students to take machines apart and rebuild them, helping them learn about mechanical drive systems. They also perform sheet metal bending that requires a great deal of applied math.

To wrap up the tour, we peered through glass windows at two large, well-stocked kitchens where students can become cooking or pastry chefs. This is not “mac and cheese,” as Smith pointed out. “We have two full kitchens and a third ready to expand.”

Maybe the next Emeril Lagasse or Rachael Ray is training here.

The joint efforts by the administration and professors help prepare students for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.

“We’ve seen an exceptional demand for our graduates, increasing starting salaries and delivering a return on investment unparalleled in higher education today,” Padilla said.

Now, to just change the perceptions of high school students and their parents as to options for rewarding careers.

For more information visit ewchec.net.

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