TSTC Aviation Maintenance Graduates Ready to Fill Job Openings

(WACO, Texas) – Aviation maintenance technicians are needed now more than ever.

Robert Capps, statewide chair of Texas State Technical College’s Aviation Maintenance department, said aviation maintenance and repair businesses working with contracts are doing well, along with aviation manufacturers.

“Our graduates have not had a hard time finding jobs,” Capps said. “Right now, the industry is just sort of in a holding pattern. The airlines are in tough shape because no one is flying commercial aviation. The airlines are only one part of the industry.”

Capps said aviation maintenance students also earning an avionics degree can mean more visibility in the hiring process and the possibility of higher pay. He said aviation maintenance students should be willing to relocate for jobs.

Southern Star Aviation in Midlothian has separate avionics and maintenance divisions.  

Jacob Garcia, Southern Star Aviation’s shop foreman, said it is not easy to find people with experience that fit with the general aviation work the business specializes in.

“I guess it is hard because we are not in the metro area and have the pick of everyone that lives there,” he said.

Garcia said the business provides in-house training on how the maintenance and avionics sides operate.

“Aviation is a niche thing,” he said. “I have seen a lot of people come and go out of this industry. It is a passion kind of thing. You want to be here.”

Texas had more than 16,400 aircraft mechanics and service technicians making an annual mean wage of more than $66,000 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest concentrations of workers in Texas are in the Dalls-Fort Worth and Houston areas. 

The nationwide need for workers is projected to grow to more than 141,000 through 2028, according to the agency.

“Old perceptions of skilled trades involving dirty, hot work must change,” said Jarid King, president of King Aerospce in Addison. “A&P certified mechanics typically work in squeaky clean hangars with the latest in diagnostic technology. It’s hands-on, highly rewarding work. Security concerns have lessened the number of open houses the industry used to hold as a way to expose young people to aviation as a career. The industry needs to champion those again.”

Aviation businesses of all sizes throughout Texas are searching for workers.

Aero Accessories Inc. in San Antonio is looking for a shop mechanic for aircraft engine accessories.

“We are just a small shop, so we have fewer than 10 employees,” said Debra Broyles, general manager. “We can’t pay the scale competing with Lockheed and Boeing.”

Broyles said in the past the business has employed workers with automotive experience to work on its specialty of overhauling and repairing engine accessories for airplanes dating back to World War II. Broyles said the business trains new workers, who need to have electrical and mechanical proficiency.

Capps said the aviation maintenance program at TSTC’s Waco campus is full for the fall semester, but there are still spaces available at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses.

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

TSTC online learning an option in times of social distancing

The current global pandemic has kept many students outside of the classroom and in their homes to continue their education. In response to this, Texas State Technical College has adjusted several programs to make them completely online while still maintaining the same standards that TSTC is known for.

Associate Vice President of Distance Learning Gina Cano-Monreal discussed the remote learning options available for students at TSTC.

What are the benefits of distance learning?

 There are numerous benefits to TSTC online learning programs and courses. TSTC online programs and courses are of equal value to the accredited quality curriculum offered in face-to-face programs.

The online courses are designed and taught by faculty who are subject-matter experts in their fields and who have relevant, real-world experience. TSTC online faculty are always an email or phone call away. They are committed to supporting students along their educational journey.

Convenience is another benefit. Online courses still have deadlines, but most coursework can be completed when it is most convenient for students and their schedules.

What kind of support do these students receive?

TSTC online students are entitled to the same support services as TSTC’s on-campus students. Online students are provided these services via a variety of methods.

Is distance learning at TSTC going to continue to grow?

 TSTC will continue to grow its online offerings. Prior to the current pandemic, TSTC offered four of its programs entirely online. As a response to current circumstances, TSTC is offering 19 of its programs entirely online in addition to an increased number of online courses. Looking past the fall semester, TSTC will be working with programs and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the college’s accrediting agency, to ensure that the increased number of programs selected for online development and delivery meet our TSTC online quality and accreditation standards.

To learn more about distance learning at TSTC, visit https://tstc.edu/tstconline/faqs.


TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate finds success in distance learning

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – In recent months the world has gone digital. Learning from home has become the new normal, and that new normal means that even though students may be many miles from a Texas State Technical College campus, they can still receive quality technical instruction.

El Paso resident and New Jersey native Emily Mancini recently became a TSTC Board of Regents honor graduate on her quest to obtain an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology. While her initial goal was to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, the feat was not a simple one.

“Working full time while maintaining a household wasn’t easy,” she said. “Thankfully I was able to take nine credit hours a semester. I wasn’t too overworked, and I could still focus on performing well with all my assignments.”

Mancini’s journey into biomedical equipment technology started in 2014, when she began her education in the U.S. Army. She began working in the field in El Paso the following year.

“I came across TSTC while in search of transferring those credits I had already earned to a state school to complete my associate degree,” she explained. “It took me a few years to get the drive to go back to school, but once I did, I wish I had gone sooner.”

Currently, her occupation as a biomedical equipment technician is keeping her busy.

“I maintain, repair, and calibrate medical equipment technology throughout my hospital, urgent care facilities, and over 30 outlying clinics.”

Despite living in El Paso, her daily commute across state lines into Las Cruces, New Mexico, gives her an opportunity to clear her mind every morning and evening.

“It’s about a 45-minute drive,” she said. “It’s mostly all highway. It’s nice not having to deal with much traffic, and I get to enjoy some alone time.”

Mancini offered words of encouragement for future TSTC students who might follow in her footsteps of graduating with honors.

“Speaking as someone who is not coming right out of high school, it takes definite motivation to want to go back to school,” she said. “It takes even more motivation to graduate with honors, but it is worth it. Be proud of your accomplishments and determination. Don’t settle for ‘well, this is good enough, I just need to pass.’ Do the best you can, and make time to achieve your goals.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To learn more, visit tstc.edu.

Associate provost celebrates 24 years at TSTC

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Jean Lashbrook was 19 when she knew she wanted to change lives serving in the medical field. Her journey as an emergency medical technician and a registered nurse led her to her current role: an associate provost at Texas State Technical College.

“I was recruited by a friend who was working at TSTC at the time,” she recalled. “There was an opening for a registered nurse in the Nursing program, and she kept pushing me to apply. I was content in my position at a public health agency. But after several nudges from her, I applied, was hired, and never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.”

Before becoming associate provost, Lashbrook served as TSTC’s Allied Health division director and prior to that as Nursing Division director, which enabled her to meet TSTC colleagues across the state.

“I have learned so much,” she said. “I am still learning and growing, thanks to TSTC.”

This August, Lashbrook will celebrate 24 years of leaving an impact at TSTC — years in which she has influenced the lives of students, and vice versa.

“One of my best memories is of a student who was being pulled in many different directions by his family,” she said. “They did not think that college was necessary. A couple years after he completed school, he came back in his Border Patrol uniform to show me he went the right way with his education. I was extremely proud of him. I still am.”

Lashbrook’s wisdom in the field of health care has not only helped patients she has met in her career, but also benefited students she has met in the classroom.

“The most enjoyable times I had in the classroom were when I was able to see the light come on when students had an excitement to learn about health care,” she said. “When I worked with dual enrollment students, it was so amazing to see the maturity level from day one up until they completed the program. Watching a 17-year-old student find their passion for what they want to do in life is the best.”

Her guidance did not leave students once they exited the classroom.

“I have watched many of them take care of patients in nursing homes with such care,” she said. “I could tell it was the best life choice for them to pursue.”

With many students starting college at TSTC this fall, she offered her advice for success.

“TSTC is the best-kept secret in the Valley,” she said. “I have worked many years with amazing colleagues who give everything possible to their students. At TSTC, you are not just a number — you are TSTC family. I have always been extremely proud to recruit, teach, mentor and represent this college. I started my education at TSTC and finished my prerequisites here for my degree in nursing. I am TSTC.”

Fall registration is currently underway. To become part of the TSTC family, visit tstc.edu.


TSTC Wind Energy Technology student wanted more than desk job

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Rebecca Fortuna was looking to do something more with her life.

After starting a career in health information, in 2016, Fortuna found out she wanted more than an office job.

“I am the type of woman who wants to do something different. I like to use my hands,” she said. “I didn’t mind the desk job. I just wanted more in my life. All of my brothers work in the wind industry, and I wanted to know what I had to do to get in the field.”

Fortuna started Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program in the spring and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree.

She knew that working in the wind industry would have its demands, especially since it is a male-dominated profession. But that has not stopped her.

“I am not afraid of a challenge. The wind industry is all around us, and it is growing so fast,” she said. “I wanted to be involved in that and wanted to be able to see different things.”

Being a self-described busybody, Fortuna said the wind industry will provide her with different challenges.

“It is not a boring field because everything is changing daily,” she said. “This program teaches you so many different concepts. I like to get my hands dirty.”

Fortuna said her first semester was enlightening, and she quickly learned that she chose the right career path. Being a female did not deter her, and many of her friends in the field cannot wait for her to graduate.

“They have talked to me about coming to work with them. I know that I will have a lot of options available,” she said.

Fortuna hopes she can influence other females to enroll in the program.

“A lot of the girls that I work with at my current job are intimidated because it is male-dominated,” she said. “I tell them it is not what they would expect. It is a great program for women.”

Fortuna said instructor Billie Jones has been instrumental in helping her learn more about the industry.

“Billie has been great. She will get in there and help you with anything,” Fortuna said. “I have told girls that they need to talk to her if they are interested in the program.”

Fortuna said her male classmates are willing to help her and others.

“They are open to help, no questions asked. There are no limitations among us,” she said. 

TSTC offers Wind Energy Technology at the Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses.

For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC student challenges the traditional notion of welding

(ABILENE, Texas) – Andrea Green admitted she wanted to do something different in her life.

Researching college opportunities, Green, a native of Abilene, learned about Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program. Without any welding experience, Green enrolled in the program and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree.

“I wanted to do something different and something big,” she said. “I am good at hands-on work and have watched welders do what they do. I said to myself, ‘I can do this.’”

Green knew the welding field was dominated by men, but that did not deter her.

“I knew welding was mainly a field for men, but I have done things a lot of women normally do not do,” she said. “So I went for it, and I have enjoyed it.”

Green is entering her second semester in the program and has a goal in sight.

“Looking at the big picture, it would be cool to tell people I help build skyscrapers or build space rockets,” she said.

This semester, Green has been working on an unusual project: welding a sculptural pig. She admitted some of her classmates were impressed that she was working on the project.

“After a few weeks of work, I liked what I was doing and the way it looks,” she said.

Green said her classmates were “shocked” but welcoming when they saw her the first time.

“Throughout the semester they saw my progress, and we learned to help each other,” she said.

The instructors are also key to helping Green and other students.

“Everyone has a different technique. It is good to see techniques from more than your point of view,” she said. “The instructors show us something, and I tell myself that I can try that. I try it, and it gives me the outcome I like.”

She also said instructors are approachable when it comes to helping students.

“You do not have to be intimidated to ask for help. The instructors are always willing to help,” she said.

Green said she hopes more women will look at a career in welding. She has seen a trend in which women are working in male-dominated fields and hopes welding is added to the list.

“Slowly but surely, women are working their way into male-dominated fields,” she said. “Just because men dominate a field doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just have to try.”

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

TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

(ABILENE, Texas) – Sheryl Givens turned a lifelong passion into a career.

Since graduating from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology in 2018, Givens has worked as a designer for SCS Technologies in Big Spring.

“I have always been interested in construction,” Given said. “Growing up, I liked drawing things on a day-by-day basis.”

At SCS Technologies, Givens designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies. The company specializes in programmable logic controller-based systems, control panel fabrication, and custody transfer liquid measurements.

Givens said being part of the TSTC program prepared her for this career.

“Throughout the years, I have admired all the strong work ethic and personal integrity of the field,” she said. “I appreciated all the help from TSTC, which led me to become a motivated and driven professional with a high level of leadership and initiative, as well as excellent analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills.”

She said TSTC instructors prepared her for a career as a designer.

“They helped me find challenging career opportunities where knowledge, skills, and experience can be effectively utilized with organizations offering opportunities for professional growth and advancement,” Givens said.

The drafting and design program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco campuses.

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

TSTC Electrical Construction Program Launches Graduates Into Work

(WACO, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Construction program have an array of opportunities for work after graduation.

TSTC offers an Electrical Construction certificate at the Waco campus. Students learn about basic electrical theory, electrical codes, safety regulations, wiring and other topics.

“As your (TSTC’s) students are concerned, what gives them a jump is they have their OSHA training, their first aid and CPR training,” said Craig Miller, business manager for Local 72 of the  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Waco. “They are familiar with the electrical code. We just build on that and run with that from there.”

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation governs licensing for electricians. Under the agency, TSTC’s Electrical Construction students can get an apprenticeship card while in the program. When students graduating from the program earn 800 on-the-job hours, they can take the journeyman’s license test. After 4,000 additional on-the-job hours, graduates can take the master’s license test.

“We have quite a few of your graduates that are in our training program now that have completed the program,” Miller said. “You can start at 19, 20 years old and go until you are 62. We are looking for lifers.”

Hugh Whitted, chair of TSTC’s Electrical Construction program, said a lot of students entering the program already have some electrical knowledge, either through high school classes or military experience.

Whitted said Electrical Construction graduates can pursue union or nonunion work. Job opportunities can provide work throughout Texas, out of state or in another country.

“There is always a need for women and minorities in the field,” he said. “There is no physical reason why anyone could not be successful in this field.”

The Waco Independent School District employs its own electricians. Kevin Hafer, the district’s coordinator of facilities and maintenance, said it can be difficult finding people with proper qualifications. 

“Most electricians that possess the proper qualifications are able to command a higher salary in the private sector, albeit with less benefits than the district typically offers,” Hafer said.

Miller said the health care industry has a need for electricians. And, he said large-scale projects like the $1.9 billion Steel Dynamics mill project in Sinton needs electricians.

Jobs for electricians are projected to be at more than 789,000 by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It predicts the need for workers will be driven by alternative energy and construction spending. 

Texas had more than 63,000 electricians making an annual mean wage of more than $52,000 in 2019, according to the federal agency. The Waco area had more than 500 electricians last year.

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

TSTC Business Management Technology instructor brings experience into the classroom

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – You might say that Texas State Technical College Business Management Technology instructor Duston Brooks brings some practical experience of a bovine nature into the classroom.

Prior to becoming an instructor at TSTC, Brooks worked on the financial side of his family’s dairy farm. He now brings that knowledge to his students as they work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree or certificate in Business Management Technology.

“I learned the financial side of things and how to use the software,” said Brooks, who has taught at TSTC since 2000.

When Brooks first started teaching, TSTC offered a degree in Computer Information Technology. It is now the five-semester Business Management Technology degree program.

Students learn three areas of business management. Brooks said the first part of the program focuses on accounting, followed by management and then software.

“Anybody who works at a computer desk at any business will benefit from this program,” he said.

Students learn a variety of skills, including word processing, presentation graphics, accounting, and business ethics, principles of accounting and management, small business operations, and payroll accounting.

“You will benefit from a well-rounded education,” Brooks said, adding that some graduates continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

In addition to on-campus classes, TSTC’s Business Management Technology program is available online, which helps some students, Brooks said.

“We know that people are working and have kids. This gives them the feasibility to complete the program online and at their own pace,” he said.

Brooks said one student completed the course while being employed as a full-time truck driver.

“He could not attend a class on campus, so he took his laptop with him,” he said. “Whenever he had time off the road, he would work on his online classes.”

During his tenure at TSTC, Brooks has seen students of all ages complete the program.

“We have had students just out of high school to adults in their 50s and 60s. Some people want to come back and relearn skills or even learn brand-new skills in order to update their resume,” he said.

Completing the program, according to Brooks, allows graduates to interview for office management positions. He said through hard work, some graduates have worked their way up to higher positions.

Brooks has also had students who wanted to start their own business.

“There are people from our program working in small towns and bigger cities,” he said. “Students who want to move up from a physically challenging job can take our program to get them in a better office or management position.”

Business Management Technology is available at the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, and Marshall campuses.

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

Rosenberg native serves veterans at TSTC

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Kenneth Buford served his country as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army for eight years, during which time he traveled to such places as the Middle East and South Korea. Recently the Rosenberg native’s worldly experience brought him back home to serve fellow veterans as director of veteran recruitment at Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory so far? 

Right now, given the times, assisting veterans to complete their registration applications during quarantine has been my favorite thing to do.

Is there anything in particular that you feel makes TSTC unique?

The staff and faculty at Texas State Technical College truly believe in providing students every opportunity and resource necessary to ensure their success.

What impact do you hope to have at TSTC?

During my tenure at TSTC, it is my hope to utilize my professional military and civilian experience to assist in the building of long-lasting bonds between the college itself, veteran organizations and the community. These bonds will serve as bridges connecting veterans, their dependents, and the broader community to the types of educational resources and experiences necessary to attain higher-paying employment and financial stability.

If you could give any advice to fellow veterans, what would you tell them about starting college or going back to college? 

Although many of us focus on today, it is important always to look toward the future and plan for tomorrow. The ability to earn a certificate or degree enhances individual marketability and provides us paths to employment and financial freedom.

To learn more about veteran services offered at TSTC, visit https://tstc.edu/veterans.

From left to right: Vlad Hidrovo, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management, veteran and TSTC Student with Kenneth Buford. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Burford and was taken in early 2020.