Thomas Menchaca was working as an electrician when the recession hit in 2008. His client base suddenly dried up—leaving Menchaca “kind of stuck,” he recalled.
It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Without many jobs coming his way, Menchaca knew he needed to make a change. He decided to finish what he had started years before: a degree at Tarrant County College.
Menchaca had always been interested in hands-on work and how things are made.
“While I was growing up, we were constantly fixing things around the house and remodeling,” he noted. “I was young, but I wanted to be right there helping my dad, seeing what was going on. I’d go get the nails or hold the board. I wanted to be part of building something.”
The Construction Management Technology program at TCC South was a perfect fit.
“The College was right in my backyard and offered a lot of flexibility, and the program would give me real-world experience,” Menchaca said.
He would also have access to affordable tuition and instructors who have spent decades making their mark in the industry. Menchaca credits those instructors with enhancing his existing skills and making it easy to tackle new construction concepts, related to the actual building process as well as project management.
“Students learn construction firsthand from professionals,” Menchaca explained. “From using survey machines, reading blueprints and testing concrete to understanding scheduling and timelines, the professors made everything clear and easy to go through.”
Menchaca especially valued the support he received from Orlando Bagcal, Ph.D., former associate professor and program coordinator; Bagcal now serves as an adjunct in the department.
“He filled me in on a lot of the questions that the books couldn’t answer,” said Menchaca. “With his extensive construction background, he always had an answer.”
Menchaca also relied heavily on student services staff.
“I wore out the counseling center,” joked Menchaca. “I wanted to make sure I was on the right track and taking all the right classes. There were so many resources to help me along the way.”
His own talent and commitment played a central role in his success. With his outstanding grades, Menchaca was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. In early 2015, he was hired as an intern for Westwood Contractors, a national general contractor headquartered in Fort Worth. When he graduated from TCC with his Associate of Applied Science that summer, the company brought him on full time.
“I started soliciting proposals from subcontractors, going through blueprints and getting to understand what trades are needed for each project,” said Menchaca. “From there, I gradually moved up to estimating, did that for a while and got deep into blueprints. I succeeded there, and Westwood saw some higher potential in me.”
Today Menchaca is a project manager for Westwood Contractors, running jobs from start to finish. His duties include securing those jobs, determining what subcontractors are needed, negotiating and issuing contracts, scheduling and handling major issues—for multiple projects, simultaneously.
“I am grateful to all the people who helped me along the way at TCC,” said Menchaca. “Getting my degree and going through that learning process made me a better person.”
Menchaca plans to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree and continue advancing in his career. He says TCC is where his success started.
“When you go to TCC, they show you what you’re capable of doing,” Menchaca said. “It opens your mind and opens doors to opportunity. As long as you put in the effort and want more in your life, TCC will give you the ‘more’ you need.”
This is the third feature in the College’s “On the Move” series, highlighting the accomplishments of TCC alumni.
TCC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Construction Management Technology, along with certificates in Construction Inspection Technician, Construction Management Technology and Construction Business Entrepreneur; students can also earn an enhanced skills award in Computer-Aided Construction Scheduling and an occupational skills award in Residential/Commercial Site Layout & Framer Assistant.
The College’s Construction Management Technology degree is fully accredited by the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), a leading global advocate of quality construction education program. Visit the Construction Management Technology webpage for more information.