Portraits of Success – Midland College to Texas A&M and beyondJanuary 04, 2024

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. From left to right, Lane Tang, Monica Banschbach, Arianna Vela and Andrew Sanchez

Midland College (MC) and Texas A&M University (TAMU) are in the midst of their 5th year of a successful engineering academy partnership.  Engineering Academy students co-enroll in both MC and TAMU.  They take classes on the main MC campus from both institutions—math, science and core curriculum courses from MC faculty and engineering courses from TAMU taught in person by a TAMU College of Engineering faculty assigned to teach in Midland.  They transition into one of 22 engineering majors at TAMU in College Station after two, three or four semesters.  

The academy at MC is one of nine TAMU Engineering academies across the state.  TAMU started the academies in order to recruit more students into high-demand, high-wage engineering fields.  Students who participate in the academies have several advantages over those who go directly to TAMU as first-year college students.

“The cost savings are tremendous, and the students receive more individualized attention than they would as first-year engineering majors at A&M,” Mike Seerey, MC director of special programs and the Texas A&M Engineering at Midland College, said.  “They have the opportunity to take introductory engineering classes at MC and then have multiple options to transition into a specific A&M engineering major.  The students are also able to take advantage of Midland College scholarships and special transfer scholarships that are awarded only to MC graduates.”

Despite the obstacles of enduring the COVID pandemic during their second semester of college, four of the students who were members of the first cohort of the Academy in the fall of 2019 are now beginning their careers.  

Lane Tang graduated from TAMU this past December with a degree in Mechatronics Engineering.  He said that he applied to TAMU when he graduated from Lee High School (now Legacy High School) in 2019 and was accepted; however, when he heard about the TAMU Engineering Academy at MC, he decided to take advantage of the cost effectiveness of attending MC and the small class sizes.

“Attending Midland College allowed me to be better prepared for college life,” he said.  “I’m not sure I would have been as successful if I hadn’t spent three semesters at MC before transferring, especially since that was during the height of the COVID pandemic.”  

Monica Banschbach graduated from TAMU with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in May 2023.  She then spent several months in The Woodlands interning with Linde Engineering Americas.  This was her third internship.  She also interned at a private oil and gas company in Midland during a summer and interned at a water treatment design company in College Station while she was attending TAMU.  On December 4, she started working as a process engineer for West Texas Gas.  

“I grew up in Midland and was homeschooled,” she explained.  “I always wanted to go to A&M, but I definitely made the right decision to start my higher education journey at Midland College.  When I did transfer in 2020, I had already experienced college, and even though I struggled a bit with isolation because it was during the COVID pandemic, I did well in all my classes.  Living in the dorms also helped with getting to know fellow students.  

“In addition, because I had already taken some engineering classes, I was able to arrange my schedule so that I could minor in horticulture, which is a hobby.”

Arianna Vela graduated from Odessa High School in 2018 and attended Odessa College her first year in college.  

“When I heard about the opportunity to enroll in the A&M Engineering Academy at Midland College, I transferred from Odessa College to Midland College in fall 2019 and then transferred to A&M in fall 2020,” she said.  “Originally my intent was to major in Ocean Engineering, and I loved my introductory engineering during my year at MC; however, after transferring to A&M, I discovered that engineering wasn’t something I wanted to pursue.  Fortunately, I had a great background in science and math, so I was able to apply that knowledge to major in nutrition.  I’ll graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition with a Dietetics track.  Even though I didn’t pursue a degree in engineering, the Academy helped me focus on my studies and made it easy for me to transfer to A&M.”

Andrew Sanchez said that he is also thankful for his start in the TAMU Engineering Academy at MC.  Upon graduating from Midland High School in the top ten of the 2019 graduating class, he was accepted into TAMU’s College of Engineering at College Station.

“I had planned to go to Texas A&M for either engineering or biology,” he explained. “Then I heard about the A&M Engineering Academy at Midland College.  I discovered that I could start my general A&M engineering courses at Midland College.  This was truly the best path for me.  I was given the opportunity to stay at home, take college courses at MC, enroll in engineering courses through Texas A&M and decide which engineering discipline I wanted to pursue, which ultimately ended up being biomedical engineering.”

Sanchez transferred from MC to TAMU in the fall of 2021 and was the recipient of the Midland College Younger Endowed Scholarship, a scholarship specifically for MC graduates who transfer to A&M.  In August 2023, Sanchez graduated from TAMU with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.  

“I had an incredible support system between both Midland College and A&M,” he said.  “While I was in the Academy at MC, my advisors on both campuses worked together to make sure that I was taking the appropriate courses that would transfer to A&M and apply toward my degree and my ETAM [Entry to a Major] application. Even though I was in the first cohort of academy students, it felt as if this program was established decades ago. There were absolutely no hiccups—it was smooth sailing.”

During his time at A&M, Sanchez was a participant in many design competitions. One of these six-member teams went on to win first place at the “Aggies Invent – Medical” design competition.  In only 48 hours the team was able to design and test a specialized endoscope prototype to promote increased visual acuity during procedures by filtering the space around the operating area and camera. This increased the speed and safety of biopsies and surgical procedures in these tiny areas while also reducing any stress and time lost caused by the loss of vision during the procedures . Now with his degree in biomedical engineering, Sanchez hopes to continue his interest in medical device research and development.  

“I do not regret my decision to stay in Midland,” he stated.  “Engineering Academy students visit College Station periodically to attend football games, tailgates and the SEC Career Fair.  So, even though we weren’t in College Station full time, we still had the opportunity to take part in a lot of A&M’s campus activities and develop a lot of friendships with the peers that we would soon join when we transitioned.  I genuinely felt like I was an Aggie from Day 1. 

“When I transferred to A&M, there were also many opportunities like the monthly Engineering Academy dinners and weekly tailgates during football season where I was able to meet students from the other A&M Engineering Academies throughout the state. It was very refreshing to meet people who had shared similar experiences. It helped to alleviate any of the stress that may come with being a transfer student. I made lifelong friendships at A&M. 

“In addition, thanks to the support I received from TAMU, Midland College and my family, I was able to graduate with absolutely no debt! I am thankful to have been a part of this program and am excited for the future of the Academy.

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