SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Texas State Technical College Wind Energy Technology department has started a new tradition. From now on, every graduating student will forever leave their mark, literally.

Each student will sign the wind turbine that is on permanent display in front of the Wind Energy Technology building. Russell Benson, an instructor, wanted students to be able to do this, no matter their academic standings, so that they may leave an impression for others to see.

“By signing the blade, this represents the students completing the core of the Wind Energy Technology program,” Benson said. “This is a way for them to remember their time at TSTC. I hope they will come back one day with their family to show them they signed the turbine and tell them of their experience.”

Gabby Mallet, associate provost of the Sweetwater campus, shared her excitement in a press release that students will be able to do this. She said that although this may be small, it is significant and will mean more as time grows.

“I am so excited to see the beginning of this tradition for our Wind Energy Technology students,” Mallet said. “By signing the wind turbine blade, it signifies the ending of their journey at TSTC but is a way to remember what they accomplished. It will also be motivation for future students to complete the program so they can leave their mark on TSTC and West Texas.”

Many students in this program are excited to be a part of this new tradition. Here is what a few of the graduating seniors said:

  • “This is really cool. My name will be there forever,” said Dylan McLaury, of Aspermont. “I know that one day I will come here and show my kids and family. To be the first to start a new tradition is awesome.”
  • “I have never seen anything like this before,” said Emily Carr, of Odessa. “It is a unique thing that we are the first group to sign the blade. I will never forget my time at TSTC, especially when I can say that I signed a wind turbine blade.”
  • “This is a way for all of us to remember what we have accomplished in the program and at TSTC,” said Manny Gurrola, of San Angelo.
  • “This is a whole new beginning for us,” said Jonah Ferris, of Synder. “Going to TSTC has helped me prepare for the transition to the workforce. When I signed the blade, I thought about the trail of success I will leave behind and take with me at work.”

The idea of this came to Benson when he saw a group of people looking at the turbine. Some students had sign this blade before, but this year is the first time a class did this together.

“I know this may seem like a little thing, but it is something they earned,” Benson said. “When they get to this point, the fourth semester, it is their fun semester. They are starting to realize their time is coming to an end and they will be ready to get to work. This is a small gesture for us to honor them before they walk the commencement stage.”

According to onetonline.org, the need for wind turbine service technicians in the next ten years is projected to increase to 102%. TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program offers a certificate of completion and an Associate of Applied Science degree at the Sweetwater and Harlingen campuses.