San Jacinto College graduate Porfirio Salas has always loved working on vehicles, especially his Lexus IS300. That's why when it came time to choose a career path and a college, he looked into the Toyota and Lexus Technician and Training Education Network (T-TEN) program.
"I was already working on my own Lexus, making repairs and small modifications," Salas said. "I really wanted to work in the automotive world, so it was an easy transition to enroll in the T-TEN program."
T-TEN — a partnership between Toyota, the College, and local dealerships — is recognized as a premier program in the global automotive industry for training and placement of factory-trained technicians for Toyota and Lexus. It was through this partnership that Salas landed his first job in the automotive industry at Northside Lexus in Spring.
"I hired Porfirio while he was attending San Jac, and he quickly showed that he had what we refer to as natural ability," said Jeff Fish, production manager/diagnostic specialist at Northside Lexus. "He takes on many challenging jobs and applies himself to be the best tech he can be every day."
After two years at Northside, Salas has worked his way up to become a Lexus Master Certified Technician.
"I was able to complete most of my Automotive Service Excellence exams through the program at San Jac to earn my master certification, and I hope one day to become a team leader at Lexus," said Salas.
To earn master status, an auto technician must complete eight ASE-level certifications on subjects like engine repair, brakes, suspension, and more. Under each certification, technicians have to pass multiple tests in each category — something that takes a lot of focus.
Sean Ham, San Jac T-TEN program coordinator, recalls Salas' work ethic and prowess in the classroom.
"When I first started teaching Porfirio, I saw that working on cars came natural to him, and he had great potential," Ham said. "By the end of his training in the program, he was one ofthe top students in his class."
In addition to Salas, Northside boasts at least eight other San Jac T-TEN alumni, including 1997 graduate and Lexus group leader Tracy Windwehen.
"With the T-TEN program, technicians get a head start on all of the basic Toyota courses before they graduate. By the time you're done with school, you're already certified," Windwehen said. "This definitely gives technicians a leg up to get hired. Within a couple of years, you can be master certified and at the top of the field."
In addition to the Toyota-based program, San Jac automotive technology offers programs through Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mopar, and a general automotive technology degree.