Texas Border Business
HARLINGEN, Texas – Utility companies depend on highly skilled automotive technicians to keep their fleet vehicles ready for everything from routine service calls to emergencies.
Alex Alvarado, of San Benito, is a fourth-semester Automotive Technology student at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus, where he is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree.
He was recently hired for an internship to work on fleet vehicles for American Electric Power at the company’s San Benito location.
“My instructor (Miguel) Zoleta mentioned (the internship) to me and a few other students,” he said. “I’m aware AEP has an excellent work culture.”
Alvarado said he is shadowing a professional technician at AEP.
“I’m involved in morning and afternoon briefs that pertain to safety,” he said. “As for duties, I work on bigger international diesel trucks, doing basic service such as oil changes and topping off fluids such as coolant. I change window wipers and perform other tasks.”
Joe Leal, fleet supervisor for AEP Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo districts, said Alvarado demonstrates a high level of interest in what it takes to become a top-notch AEP fleet technician.
“Alex has active participation in our AEP safety culture,” he said. “He has shown dedication to learn on the job and assist our highly skilled and knowledgeable fleet technicians.”
Alvarado’s automotive career path began when he was a teenager.
“I bought myself a 1994 Ford F-150 when I was 17 so my father and I could restore it,” he said. “We fixed the issues on the engine and the transmission. Then I purchased a Majek Redfish Line boat to resolve minor technical issues such as a fuel pump and a starter on its Yamaha 90-horsepower engine.”
A year later he began to work on his family’s vehicles for more experience.
“I performed various duties such as oil changes, changed brakes, and replaced fuel pumps,” he said. “My father told me he was proud that I was becoming mechanically inclined.”
Bruce Schmitt, a TSTC Automotive Technology instructor, said Alvarado’s inquisitive nature shows why he is a great fit for the program.
“His leadership skills are evident because he’s a great motivator with projects,” he said. “That work ethic will carry him into future success.”
Alvarado said his future plans include establishing an automotive body shop.
“I would love to open my own business, but I want to get industry experience first,” he said.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology. Certificate programs are available, as well as a Basic Automotive occupational skills achievement award.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.