AUSTIN, Texas — Demand for high-tech manufacturing jobs is growing across Central Texas at big-name companies like Tesla, Samsung, The Boring Company and many others. Leaders at Austin Community College recognize that demand and that's why they're promoting their advanced manufacturing programs.

Student Sarah Martinez is enrolled in the Certified Production Technician Program. At the end of the coursework, she'll have earned a nationally recognized certification. She credits her time in the Army for her interest in the field.

“When I was in the military I worked on a lot of equipment. I didn't really get to get my hands dirty as you can say, but … I felt like this is an opportunity to do something that's different, do something that is outside the box,” she said.

Martinez's time in the Army was over in 2019 after serving for four years. She says it was during her time in service that she got to see firsthand some of the most impressive emerging technologies.

“But I had to work within a small scope, you know, we got to see all these exciting things in the military but we didn't really get to work on them. There was [sic] more civilian people that worked on these things,” she said. 

Sarah Martinez during her time in the Army. (Photo Courtesy: Sarah Martinez)

Now a civilian herself, Martinez is hoping to take what she learned in the Army and build on that knowledge. While the CPT 4.0 program can offer a variety of career options, Martinez says she has an idea of the kind of specific job she wants to do.

“The job that I'm going for is … somebody who's doing quality control but at the same time making sure that all the equipment is at 100% readiness,” she said.

Educators say the growing presence of manufacturers in Central Texas is noticeable. It's why there is constant communication between the school and those companies to craft a curriculum that matches what the companies look for.

“I can tell you that we get more inquiries for jobs than we have students,” said Dr. Laura Marmolejo, chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Department at Austin Community College.

Marmolejo added that even before students are done with their coursework, companies have been preemptively trying to recruit her students. 

“I actually already have something lined up through this course. So it's definitely a great opportunity for people that go through this course. Sometimes they will get hired before they're even done with the course,” said Martinez.

Martinez will be done with the CPT 4.0 program in a matter of weeks but her career options are already plentiful.

“This is the future, really, this is really the future," she said.