Thomas Hendricks has been teaching at San Jacinto College for nearly seven years, first as an adjunct and then as full-time coordinator for the Future Automotive Service Technicians automotive technology program.
Now he’s taking on a new role: coordinator for the autonomous vehicle program. This is the first autonomous vehicle technician certificate program in Texas and was created by Nuro, a leading autonomous vehicle company.
“I’m excited about this opportunity and hope to incorporate what I’m doing now with my automotive courses into this new realm of autonomous vehicles,” Hendricks said.
With more than 10 years of field experience, Hendricks entered the teaching profession well versed in automotive knowledge.
“The shift from fieldwork to teaching was like drinking water from a fire hydrant,” he said. “I had to create a lot of my material and curriculum from scratch, so it was a challenge. I eventually found my rhythm, and I really enjoy it.”
Part of Hendricks’ love for teaching comes with seeing his students succeed beyond San Jacinto College.
Every year I get emails from students with photos of what they are working on out in the real world. It gives me a sense of pride being able to give back by training the future of our profession. That’s why I’m so passionate about teaching students the right way of doing things and being accountable when they are in the field.
His goal as an educator?
“There are a number of automotive shops that will take advantage of customers who come to them for help,” he said. “When you go to a shop with a problem, you are already frustrated. I hope to impart to my students the importance of listening, performing proper vehicle troubleshooting, being honest, helping customers solve their problem, and taking pride in their work.”
Hendricks sees the autonomous vehicle program as a benefit to students.
“There is a definitive shift toward electric vehicles these days,” he said. “Although the internal combustion engine isn’t going away anytime soon, most vehicles sold will be electric vehicles and hybrids, so it’s important for students to become more familiar with the technology associated with these vehicles. Learning more about these electrical systems and how they work can only be advantageous.”
The one-year autonomous vehicle certificate (39 credit hours) includes:
Check out more stories from the Chancellor’s Report to the Community.