MEET THE PRO: Eric Mendoza, Automation & Robotics

By Arkansas Next on Monday, October 25, 2021

Bob Coleman

Hometown: Visalia, California
Age: 25

Where I trained: Tyson Manufacturing Automation Center (TMAC), NorthWest Arkansas Community College and industrial training via Rockwell Automation

What I earned: Programming certificate, Studio 5000 certificate, ethernet/IP configuration troubleshooting certificate and on-the-job training

Job title: Automation technician
Employer: Tyson Foods Inc. – Berry Street Plant, Springdale

Eric Mendoza wasn't sure what he wanted to do when he graduated high school, but he knew he wanted to find a career he would love. He started in the maintenance department at Tyson and quickly developed a passion for his work. “I really like the feeling of accomplishment when a piece of equipment is not functioning properly and you apply your knowledge and fix it,” he says.

Tyson gave Eric the opportunity to work toward his goals, without spending a lot of time or money. Without student loan debt, Eric has been able to afford the luxury of travel a lot sooner in life. He also likes already feeling fulfilled in his career, as opposed to struggling to find a job that matched a major. “I like to be the problem-solving person, the go-to guy,” he says.

"I really like the feeling of accomplishment when a piece of equipment is not functioning properly, and you apply your knowledge and fix it." – Eric


Automation technicians repair and maintain computer-controlled systems, as well as troubleshoot and repair a wide variety of industrial instrumentation.


  • Create, install, maintain and fix robotic and automation control systems
  • Troubleshoot or assist in the diagnosis of a nonfunctioning piece of equipment
  • Maintain/repair robotic and automation equipment
  • Program robotic equipment
  • Maintain operational records or records systems

Education needed: Technical certificate and on-the-job training

Bob Coleman

Job Outlook

+3% expected growth by 2029 in the U.S.

15,100 jobs by 2029 in the U.S.

1,300 annual job openings in the U.S.

This option is for you if

  • You’re a critical thinker
  • You like troubleshooting problems
  • You have good deductive reasoning and reading comprehension skills
  • You work great under pressure

High-end earners (top 10%) make

Median wages in Arkansas
$59,800 Annual
$28.75 Hourly

• Arkansas State University-Mountain Home
• Arkansas Tech University-Ozark
• Business & Industry Training
• East Arkansas Community College
• Lexicon Inc.
• National Park College
• North Arkansas College
• Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas
• Simmons Foods
• Southern Arkansas University Tech
• Tyson Foods Inc.
• UAM College of Technology–Crossett
• University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
• University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton
• University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College

• ABB Motors & Mechanical Inc.
• Central Moloney Inc.
• Lexicon Inc.
• McKee Foods Corporation
• Pace Industries
• Simmons Foods
• Tyson Foods Inc.

Sources: and
*When employment projections were not available for Arkansas, U.S. projections were used