Tesla START: The 16-week program provides students with the skills needed to become an advanced electric vehicle technician at Tesla

TEXAS — In February, Texas State Technical College brought the second cohort of an electric vehicle service program to its Rosenberg campus through a partnership with Tesla.

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The college, called Tesla START, started the 16-week program with eight students. According to the TSTC website, the program aims to provide students with the skills needed to become advanced electric vehicle technicians at Tesla.

According to the college’s website, the program teaches students technical expertise and earns certifications through a blended approach of classroom theory, hands-on labs, and self-paced learning.

Tesla START is one of over 50 programs and degrees TSTC offers across multiple industries. Students enrolled in the Tesla START program come from across the country for the opportunity to complete a Tesla-certified program. During the first October cohort of the program on the Rosenberg campus, student Vincent Packer drove from California.

“I want to be a part of that because that’s the future,” Packer said in a TSTC press release. “It took me a long time to decide that I wanted to be a mechanic, but it was the first thing I learned in high school and I always ended up coming back to it. When I started thinking about it, if I join Tesla, that can be my career.”

Students like Packer make their way to Fort Bend County to enroll in the program on the Rosenberg campus, one of seven other Tesla START partnerships in the country.

apprenticeship for the internship

Between the college’s Waco and Rosenberg campuses, the Tesla START program has completed 43 students, according to the school. The college and Tesla screen all applicants to determine if they have sufficient automotive experience, said Kori Bowen, the college’s senior executive director of workforce training.

This can be done through either an associate degree in automotive engineering or equivalent experience in the field. After a student completes the program, they’re qualified to work at any Tesla service center in the world, Bowen said.

“Tesla technicians are everywhere,” she said. “You can work at approved maintenance locations. They also travel to take care of these vehicles.”

However, Tesla and TSTC are maintaining cohort sizes to meet the company’s need for technicians without oversaturating the market, she said.

Though the number of technicians was not disclosed, Tesla reported that the total number of its global employees reached 99,290 as of December 31, according to an annual filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. That number represents a 40% year-over-year growth compared to the 70,757 employees reported in 2020.

The Tesla START program, which feeds this pipeline, started in 2019 with more than 300 graduates to date. Priced at just over $2,700 for the 16-week program, students are paid $15 an hour and receive all healthcare benefits throughout the program, according to the college’s website.

While students are enrolled in the program, students are considered Tesla START technicians.

ongoing partnership

Tesla approached TSTC with the idea for the partnership based on the college’s strong track record and unique funding model, Bowen said. Unlike traditional universities, which are funded on an enrollment basis, TSTC is paid through its placement agency.

“We’re (highly) motivated to place our graduates in jobs because that’s our bread and butter,” she said.

The first Tesla START cohort on TSTC’s Rosenberg campus did not use its own dedicated room when it launched in October.

By February, TSTC had constructed the Faraday Center, a $3 million, 6,000-square-foot building tailored to the needs of the program.

“When we built this lab in Fort Bend County, we made sure it would be versatile for whatever Tesla needs we might have in the future,” Bowen said.

For example, the Faraday Center has space in its bays to house Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck, should the START program add that vehicle to its curriculum, Bowen said.

“There’s real value in being a Tesla employee,” Bowen said.

This article is courtesy of our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers. Tesla START: The 16-week program provides students with the skills needed to become an advanced electric vehicle technician at Tesla

Dais Johnston

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