San Jacinto College EDGE Center graduate Oscar Gil.

The collaborative journey between the San Jacinto College EDGE Center and Intuitive Machines began in 2019, coinciding with both institutions’ entry into the Houston Spaceport. Intuitive Machines has played a multifaceted role in enhancing the College’s aerospace technician programs.

“Intuitive Machines assists our programs in many ways” said Dr. Sarah Janes, continuing and professional development associate vice chancellor. “From guiding our curriculum to hiring our students to work on integral projects like the lunar lander, it proves that we provide a quality education and that skilled technicians are needed in aerospace.”

San Jacinto College EDGE Center graduate Oscar Gil

Photo courtesy of Nick Rios, Intuitive Machines

Through Intuitive Machines internships and employment opportunities, San Jac students have gained invaluable experience while benefiting from up-to-date curriculum, fostering a seamless transition from education to the workforce.

Intuitive Machines’ involvement has extended beyond mere advisory roles, actively engaging with EDGE Center students and providing internships and eventual full-time employment. About 10% of Intuitive Machines’ workforce responsible for constructing the Nova-C lunar lander received San Jac training.

“Between the lander’s engine, carbon composites, software, and electronics required to build a Nova-C lunar lander, it takes an incredible amount of touch labor to get to the launch pad,” said Steve Altemus, Intuitive Machines CEO. “We work closely with San Jacinto College to foster certification courses for technicians to complete training, intern, and full-time hire into our lunar program.”

This collaboration models how industry and education together equip students with the skills and experience to thrive in today’s competitive job market. By providing students with hands-on experience alongside their academic studies, San Jac and Intuitive Machines are empowering the next generation of leaders in the aerospace and space exploration sectors.

Oscar Gil, Intuitive Machines composites technician, knows this all too well.

In 2017, Gil was an engineering student at the University of Houston. Unfortunately, a low GPA led to his suspension from the program, causing a chain of academic setbacks. Desperate to stay connected to engineering, he discovered San Jac’s Toyota T-TEN program, which provided a gateway into automotive technology and an invaluable internship as a master technician apprentice.

Determined to earn his bachelor’s degree, he returned to UH, switching to math with a physics minor. Securing an engineering job after graduation was challenging, prompting him to explore aviation mechanics. This led him back to San Jac, where the aerospace technician program at the EDGE Center offered a flexible, affordable online option.

“At times, it was hard to rely on myself to keep going,” Gil said. “I persisted by drawing strength from a lot of prayer and faith.”

A few months into his training, a chance encounter with Intuitive Machines representatives, facilitated by former San Jac aerospace education director Dr. Janis Fowler, led to an unexpected job offer, eventually evolving into a full-time position.

“Reflecting on my journey, I realize every setback, from academic struggles to career transitions, laid the groundwork for my current role at Intuitive Machines,” Gil said. “As I mark two years with the company, the initial thrill has transformed into a sense of purpose, reinforced by the pride of my family and the meaningful impact of our work.” 

Model-Based Systems Engineering Course

Model-based systems engineering, or MBSE, supports the requirements, design, analysis, verification, and validation associated with developing complex systems. In a digital modeling environment, MBSE provides advantages that document-based systems engineering cannot offer.

The EDGE Center now proudly offers a two-part, eight-hour MBSE course for managers. The first half provides industry use context, terminology, and application, emphasizing benefits and challenges for organizations wanting to apply MBSE efficiently. The second half covers approaches to MBSE implementation, including systems modeling language within existing systems engineering processes for modelers and system engineers.  In addition to the eight-hour class, the center will offer an advanced 40-hour MBSE course in the future.

Learn more about the EDGE Center.

By Melissa Trevizo