Tesla maintenance workers will be trained in a new partnership program between the electric auto maker and Texas State Technical College in Waco.

Special to the News-Journal

Beginning in March, Texas State Technical College in Waco will become the first college in Texas to host the Tesla START training program.

Tesla START is an accelerated 12-week training program designed to equip students with the skills necessary to become electric vehicle technicians. After completion of the program, Tesla will work with successful students for placement in a Tesla Service Center in North America.

“Tesla recognizes we are a good pool to pull talent from,” said Kelly Filgo, TSTC’s executive director of special projects.

He said that working with Tesla is an example of TSTC following its state-directed mandate to emphasize “highly specialized advanced and emerging technical and vocational areas for certificates or associate degrees.”

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Automotive Technology, said the advanced training program will teach students to work on Tesla’s electric vehicles. He said graduates of TSTC’s automotive technology, aviation maintenance and electrical programs could be a good fit for the work.

The training program will be housed at TSTC’s Kultgen Automotive Center. Tesla will provide the instructor, training equipment, vehicles, tools and curriculum for the program.

Cervantez said each Tesla START class is about a dozen students, and will have three 12-week sessions this year. Students will develop technical expertise and earn certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning. Students are employed by Tesla as hourly interns.

“For more than 50 years, TSTC has worked hand in glove with Texas employers to fulfill their needs for a skilled workforce,” said Mike Reeser, TSTC chancellor & CEO. “This partnership with Tesla is another example of the innovative manner in which we place Texans in great paying jobs.”

There are six other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Washington. The program launched in 2018 and has had more than 300 graduates to date.

TSTC has 10 campuses across the state. In addition to Waco, they’re in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and East Williamson County.