TSTC HVAC Graduates to Experience Smart Technology in the Workplace

(WACO, Texas) – Today’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians need to know more than basic electrical theory and refrigeration principles. As technology evolves, so does the need to be familiar with how smart technology is being used in HVAC systems.

“It’s been around for quite a few years and keeps improving,” said Tim Snyder, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program in Waco.

Some of the technology being seen in the industry includes smart sensors that can communicate with downloaded phone apps and smart thermostats. He said employers can provide training either through outsourcing or equipment manufacturers.

Snyder said the HVAC Technology program receives input from its state advisory board made up of industry personnel who give advice on how to adapt the curriculum to what is occurring in the workplace.

Rox Eskew, human resources manager at P&E Mechanical Contractors in Waco, said today’s students should adapt well to the use of technology because they have grown up with it. She said the company has had success hiring students from TSTC’s HVAC Technology program.

“It is all phone app-related,” Eskew said. “It does all our billing and allows them to see everything, including the history of the call they are on and the products that have been used in the past. Being able to adapt to that is very important.”

The number of jobs for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to increase to 414,200 workers through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It credits the increase in workers to growth in modernized climate-control systems.

The Waco area had about 360 HVAC technicians in May 2018, according to the labor bureau.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu. 

California Company Gives Money for TSTC Wind Energy Scholarships

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Carlsbad, California-based BayWa r.e. Wind has given $157,500 to Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus to provide scholarships to students in three area counties.

Fifteen students graduating this year in Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties — five from each county — will be eligible for the $10,500 Amadeus Wind Energy Scholarship to study in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program in Sweetwater.

“This is a huge opportunity,” said Daniel Martin, TSTC’s student recruitment director for the West Texas campuses. “The scholarship is covering nearly 100 percent of their tuition costs. They should not have a reason to leave TSTC with any debt.”

Martin said TSTC has good relationships with the four high schools in the counties.

“We are not just there to recruit their students,” he said. “We are there to be helpful in the education process.”

Students receiving scholarships can take advantage of a growing career field. The number of wind turbine technicians is projected to grow to 10,300 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobs have a nationwide median annual wage of more than $54,300, according to the agency.

The scholarship is named for the Amadeus Wind Project, which will encompass land in Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties. The project is expected to have more than 90 wind turbines, according to information filed with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Construction is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

TSTC offers a wind energy technician certificate and Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology in Sweetwater.

TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program and BayWa r.e. Wind will host a Program Highlight Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, at Aspermont High School in Stonewall County. Students from Jayton, Roby and Rotan high schools are also scheduled to attend.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu. 

TSTC Precision Machining Graduates Needed in Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – Astro Mechanics in Round Rock is one of the few manual machining shops in the Austin area, said Carrie Stemp, the company’s president.

“I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars looking in Texas, and I just don’t get anybody,” she said. “I may get one or two (potential employees), but they do not have experience in machining.”

Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program on the Williamson County campus in Hutto teaches both manual and computer numerically controlled machining processes.

Tim Hemesath, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said machining is facing a growing skills gap that is leaving jobs open. He called it a good problem to have.

“If you like to work with your hands and have an entrepreneurial spirit, then this trade is for you,” Hemesath said. “You definitely always have a job until you decide to retire.”

Stemp said the company began using an employee search firm for the first time this month to find qualified job candidates. She said machining should be taught in schools to entice youth to pursue the field once they graduate.

Jobs for machinists are projected to grow to more than 405,000 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had more than 26,000 machinists in May 2018, according to the agency.

In the third quarter of 2019, there were more than 360 machinists working in Williamson County making an average mean annual wage of $44,100, according to Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in Cedar Park. A majority of the county’s machinists work in machine shops, while others are in agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing.

The agency predicts 74 jobs will be added in the next seven years in Williamson County.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology Graduates Needed in Dallas County

(RED OAK, Texas) – Rodie Woodard, president of Maximum Industries in Irving, said finding qualified machinists depends on the timing of market conditions.

“There is plenty of talent in the pool, but when things are strong with Lockheed, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, they nab every single experienced multi-access machinist there is,” he said. “They are able to pay and offer benefits that smaller companies cannot compete with.”

Some of Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology graduates at the North Texas campus have been hired at Cannon & CannonIndustrial Machining in Greenville, Fabricon Machining in Duncanville, Martin Marietta in Dallas, and other businesses throughout the region.

“Precision Machining Technology graduates working for smaller companies still have great advantages. However, due to the common fluctuations of today’s economy, stability is jeopardized,” said Adrian Castanon, a TSTC Career Services coordinator. “A majority of our students strive to get employed with bigger, well-known companies.”

Jobs for machinists are projected to grow to more than 405,000 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had more than 26,000 machinists in May 2018 earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,800, according to the agency.

Woodard said machining is a unique skill not everyone can quickly learn. The company does work for the aerospace, defense and other industries.

“We do a lot of machining. But we do what you consider fabrication work, meaning water-jet and laser cutting of parts,” he said. “We have a pretty young workforce, but probably at least half of our employees have been here more than 10 years.”

Richard Perez, research manager at Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, said there is a need for machinists in Dallas County, particularly in Garland, its manufacturing hub. The demand can be seen through postings for jobs, which Perez said is taking some companies more than a month to fill.

Perez said Workforce Solutions is working with career and technical education programs in Dallas County school districts to spur interest in the machining field.

“We are increasing that student pipeline and letting them know there are good jobs available,” Perez said. “You do not have to go to a four-year university if you do not want to.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

Leander Company Gifts Scholarship Money to TSTC

(HUTTO, Texas) – A Leander company recently gave a $10,000 gift to Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus for student scholarships.

One Source Manufacturing is a contract manufacturer specializing in precision machining for the aerospace, semiconductor, gas and oil industries. The company has about 100 employees.

“We are in the business of machining parts, so we have a hard time finding employees,” said Kevin Shipley, the company’s owner and president. “I am big on the trades.”

The scholarship money is for students living in the Leander area who are interesting in attending TSTC.

“We have been hyper-focused on the east side of the county,” said Michael Smith, a senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation. “Our mission is to take care of our backyard before we go into other areas. We have been focusing on Hutto, Taylor and Georgetown; Leander is next.”

Smith said TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology graduates recently toured the company. 

Shipley graduated in 1983 from the Computer Maintenance Technology program at Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College) in Harlingen. He also employs several TSTC graduates.

Shipley said he anticipates the company giving additional scholarship money to TSTC in the future.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

New Regents Sworn In at Texas State Technical College

(WACO, Texas) – Two new members of the Texas State Technical College System Board of Regents were sworn in Wednesday, Feb. 5, during a ceremony led by board chairman John K. Hatchel.

Kathy Powell and Ron Widup, who were appointed to serve as TSTC regents along with returning regent Keith Honey by Gov. Greg Abbott last December, were sworn in by Judge Vikram “Vik” Deivanayagam of McLennan County.

The three board members’ terms are set to expire August 31, 2025.

The swearing-in ceremony took place during a private dinner held at TSTC’s Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center, where guests were treated to a menu prepared and served by TSTC Culinary Arts students.

Powell, of San Angelo, is administrative director of nursing at San Angelo’s Shannon Medical Center, where she is responsible for emergency, air medical, and trauma services. 

She is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association, Society of Trauma Nurses, Association of Air Medical Services and Texas Association of Air Medical Services. Additionally, she is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of San Angelo board of directors and the 2018 Class of Leadership San Angelo. 

Powell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Texas Christian University, Master of Science degree in Nursing Administration from Texas Woman’s University, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of South Alabama.

Widup, of Arlington, is vice chairman of the board of directors, senior advisor of technical services and former CEO of Shermco Industries, where he has served since 1983.

He is a former two-term president of the InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA), and he is a member of the NETA board of directors and the NETA Standards Review Council. He serves on multiple National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) committees, and he is chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Recommended Practice for Electrical Safety in Industrial and Commercial Power Systems committee. 

He is a past member of the TSTC Regents’ Circle and is on the advisory board for the Electrical Power and Controls program at TSTC. 

Widup received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power Distribution from TSTC.

Honey, of Longview, is a retired registered professional engineer and former external affairs manager of AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company. 

He is a former member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, Texas Society of Professional Engineers, and Society of Mining Engineers. He is a board member of the Gregg County Appraisal District, Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority and Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center. Additionally, he is a former board member and two-term chairman of the Longview Economic Development Corp., and he is a former board member and chairman of the Longview Chamber of Commerce. 

Honey received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering from Montana Tech University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

TSTC is governed by a nine-member board of regents, who provide a statewide perspective and are appointed by the Texas governor to six-year terms. 

The board meets quarterly to provide leadership and enact policies for the successful management and operation of the campuses.

For more information on TSTC, visit https://www.tstc.edu.

TSTC and Hendrick Health System Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(ABILENE, Texas) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Hendrick Health System gathered Friday to commemorate a TWC Skills Development Fund grant.

The $198,022 grant will enable 115 current employees and 19 new workers to earn up to three certifications and take 19 classes covering coding, claim accuracy, clinical documentation, medical office compliance and other topics. Training started Jan. 3, said Cindy Brunett, a TSTC Workforce Training project manager. 

Doug Peters, president and chief executive officer of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, said he is thankful for TWC investing in the city. 

“We need a skilled and accessible workforce and grow the jobs we have,” he said.

The partnership and training fulfills TSTC’s mission of supporting the state’s economic development efforts with specialized training, said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC’s West Texas campuses.

TWC Chairman and Commissioner Representing the Public Bryan Daniel said the grant means TSTC can help make Hendrick’s employees the best at what they do. He said patients can feel someone is taking care of them at every stage of their care. 

Daniel said the grant will have a financial return in some employees seeing their salaries rise and more patients being served.

“What a phenomenal job TSTC does for our state,” he said.

Marjohn Piney, operations manager of Hendrick Health System’s provider network, said the goal of the business is to deliver the highest-quality health care to the region. 

Texas Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, said he knows resources can be limited in West Texas. He said the grant symbolizes how the region will thrive in workforce training and skills development in the next decade.

“We have found ways to stretch dollars more ways than you can imagine,” he said. 

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for Texas companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to the needs of employers. The competitive grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers and created or upgraded more than 342,000 jobs statewide, according to the TWC.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.


TSTC Student Encourages Class Tutoring

(WACO, Texas) – Brandon Hazlett of College Station grew up with a fascination for technology.

“I did all the computer classes in high school,” the A&M Consolidated High School graduate said. “And, my father works in information technology.”

Hazlett’s mother encouraged him to pursue Cybersecurity at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. He learned the courses so well that he became a peer tutor for TSTC’s Student Success Center in spring 2019. He also helps students taking courses in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program.

“It’s a good way to make friends,” he said. “I get to figure out how it (course material) can stick with them.”

The Student Success Center in the campus’ Learning Resource Center offers free tutoring services to students. The center also has the Helping a TSTC Student Succeed (HATSS) program, which gives attention to students who need more specialized academic help.

Kassie Harrington, the center’s coordinator, said TSTC students can currently receive tutoring in Avionics, Computer Programming, Cybersecurity, Architectural and Civil Drafting Technology, Electrical Power and Controls, Instrumentation Technology and Visual Communication courses. Harrington said tutors can also work with students on academic math.

Hazlett said more students should visit the Student Success Center, not just at midterms and before finals.

“I think people need to realize that asking for help does not mean defeat,” he said.

When he is not tutoring or in class, Hazlett is doing an internship at Sentinel Cyber Intelligence in Waco. He is scheduled to graduate in the spring with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity, then stay for the summer to earn a Digital Forensics Specialist Advanced Technical Certificate. His goal is to work in the Austin area.

Students who want to be peer tutors need to meet grade-point average and semester-credit-hour requirements. They also have to be in good academic standing. The students can work a maximum of 19 hours a week.

“Students relate to other students,” Harrington said.

Harrington said she wants to see every TSTC program have at least one peer tutor to assist students.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu. 

Area Company Values TSTC Workforce Training

(WACO, Texas) – Javier Arroyo, the die casting process manager at Anderton Castings in Troy, is proud to show off the future to visitors.

This fall, the company will finish installing new equipment to increase production of aluminum high-pressure die castings for the automotive industry. The expansion aligns with the company’s mission to embrace lean manufacturing and become more environmentally conscious.

“It’s an impressive operation they have got,” said Adam Barber, TSTC’s interim executive director of Workforce Training in Waco. “I think their long-term goal is to move to a fully automated process, which is good for them and good for us.”

Barber said companies like Anderton Castings have inquired about training from TSTC for blueprint reading, computer numerical controls, hydraulics, programmable logic controls and robotics. He said requests like these mean companies are moving more to automation and want to empower employees with more technical skills.

The company has looked to TSTC in the past for employees and has hosted student interns. In 2019, the company engaged TSTC for an eight-session training program for maintenance and programming of robots. This year, the company plans to extend its training program with TSTC and support from the state of Texas to retrain more than 130 employees to prepare them with new technologies in manufacturing, hydraulics, electrical troubleshooting and CNC operations. 

“If we can hire people that are now in school, they can apply their knowledge,” said Carlos Cervera, the company’s operations engineering manager.

Cervera said employees receive training from the company and from the manufacturers of the equipment used, such as FANUC for its robots. He said students who want to pursue robotics should have a good understanding of geometry and trigonometry.

TSTC’s Robotics Technology program in Waco uses FANUC robots for students to train on.

“What we teach is exactly the type of work they do,” said Brandon McMahan, an instructor in the Robotics Technology program.

Arroyo said it is challenging to find potential employees who know tungsten inert gas welding, die casting and operation of computer numerical controlled machines. He said it is important to grow the skills of the employees they have.

“We want to create a career for them,” Arroyo said.

Jeff Straub, Troy’s city administrator, said workforce training is vital for residents. He sees the city of about 2,200 residents growing in the next few years with the addition of two subdivisions totaling more than 700 homes. And, he hopes more industrial growth happens around Anderton Castings.

“People with more skills tend to have more money,” Straub said. “They can buy a house and be more involved in the community.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu. 

TSTC Alumni Keeping People Healthy in Corsicana

(WACO, Texas) – The technical well-being of patients at Navarro Regional Hospital is in Travis Recksiek’s hands.

Recksiek, a biomedical technician, is responsible for about 1,500 pieces of medical equipment at the hospital and four clinics in Corsicana. He usually starts his workday at 6 a.m., almost an hour ahead of when operating room doctors and nurses begin their work. He can be finished with his day by 2:30 p.m. unless there are repair emergencies.

Recksiek grew up in Waxahachie and learned about biomedical equipment technology from his stepmother, who worked at an area hospital. He graduated in 2010 from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology.

Mark Plough, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Biomedical and Medical Imaging Technology, foresees an increasing need for qualified technicians in Corsicana’s health care industry. 

“Corsicana is a growing area. And as the hospital expands, so will the opportunities for health care technology management technicians,” Plough said. “Navarro Regional Hospital will have one of our students interning this semester. They have been very supportive of our program.”

Texas had more than 3,500 medical equipment repairers as of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs for those technicians are projected to increase nationally to 55,800 by 2028, according to the agency.

But finding enough qualified workers to fill those jobs could be a problem. 

“The health care technology management field is losing experienced technicians as the baby boomers retire,” Plough said. “This is a double-sided sword. The aging population will put more burden on the medical facilities, and there will be fewer people to repair, calibrate and perform preventive maintenance. This is a concern for all of the technical fields.”

Recksiek’s supervisor, Chad Sanders, is also a graduate of TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program. Sanders is the hospital’s director of plant operations and its safety officer. His job includes ensuring the facility abides by guidelines from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission.

Before Recksiek’s arrival, Sanders was the hospital’s biomedical technician.

“I was ready to move up, but I enjoyed my work as a technician,” Sanders said.

Sanders said biomedical technicians need to have good communication skills, learn hospital protocol, know about privacy concerns, be good at scheduling, and have familiarity with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.

“Working in the nonclinical side of health care has its perks,” Sanders said. “We have more time to get the job done.”

Sanders, who grew up in Hillsboro, previously worked in manufacturing before attending TSTC and also did a program internship before pursuing the health care field.

“The internship is vital for any medical equipment repair program,” Plough said. “The internship allows the students to put into practice the knowledge they have gained through their formal education. The real-time experience helps the students connect the dots between theory and reality.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.