TSTC alumnus and Mechatronics instructor celebrates 10 years of teaching

When Roland Leija graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree from Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus, the alumnus never imagined that his passion for technology would bring him back as an instructor to the same location.

He is thrilled to celebrate 10 years as a Mechatronics Technology instructor at TSTC.

Leija is responsible for helping and training students with the skills needed to be hired by a potential employer. He shares his real-world experience as part of the curriculum.

“I worked with Intel Corp. as a process technician after graduating from TSTC,” he said. “I worked in an area that placed patterns on silicon wafers, which would later become microprocessors. I returned to college and achieved my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Then I worked as a test engineer with Lockheed Martin.”

Leija’s first objective as an instructor was to enable his students to be the best.

“Our students are intelligent and very skilled to go toe-to-toe with any student with a similar educational background, anywhere in the nation,” he said.

Next, the vision was to create a team of instructors with an equivalent passion and knowledge.

“I am grateful that I have an expressive team,” he said.

Mechatronics instructors stress safety, integrity, communication and hard work to their students. A lesson will often include a student who is challenged to find a solution. Their ability to think creatively and outside of the box is remarkable.

Some of the program’s graduates are employed locally with utility, manufacturing and industrial companies such as American Electric Power, Cardone, Emerson and Trico. Outside of the region, they are employed with Koenig & Bauer, Oncor, Schlumberger and Toyota.

“Potential employers have stated how impressed they are with our students’ speaking and interviewing skills,” Leija said. “It is a great feeling to know we have done our job.”

Leija firmly believes that mechatronics technicians will become more in demand due to the multiple disciplines involved in manufacturing.

“Our graduates can work on oil rigs, maintaining pumping systems and all of the sensors and controls that correspond to them,” he said. “They can also work in a manufacturing floor or shop, repairing control systems that keep manufacturing companies going strong.”

As the Mechatronics Technology program grows, the instructional team envisions staying current with industry standards to ensure that students are successful.

TSTC offers Mechatronics Technology at the Harlingen campus, where students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree or an Electromechanical Automation occupational skills award.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.