TSTC Welding Technology offers Occupational Skills Award certification in Abilene

(ABILENE, Texas) – Many construction companies are looking for entry-level welders.

To help fill that need, Texas State Technical College will offer an Occupational Skills Award certification program in Welding Technology this fall at the college’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene. 

Three basic welding courses will be offered over 15 weeks, said instructor Anthony Lewis.

“There is always a need for welders in every region of Texas. Between 80 and 90 percent of those jobs are for entry-level positions,” he said.

The Occupational Skills Award is part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“When students complete this OSA program, they will have no trouble finding a job,” Lewis said. “The skills we will teach are what employers are looking for in a welder.”

Lewis will spend five weeks covering three different areas of welding.

The first five weeks will be the Introduction to Welding Using Multiple Processes class. Lewis said students will learn basic welding techniques using several different processes, including Oxy-fuel welding and cutting, gas metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding.

“The first five weeks, we will cover just the basics of welding to get the students ready for the next class,” Lewis said.

The second course will be Introduction to Shielded Metal Arc Welding. Lewis said emphasis will be placed on power sources, electrode selection and different joint designs.

The final five weeks will be Intermediate Welding Using Multiple Processes. Lewis said this is a more advanced class, but it will prepare students for a job. Students will receive instruction on using layout tools and blueprint reading that will include demonstrations.

Students will not spend the entire time in the classroom. Lewis said they will put what they learn into use during lab sessions.

“It will be fast and furious, but the students will get enough knowledge and information that it will not overwhelm them,” he said.

While in the classroom, students will hear firsthand about Lewis’ knowledge of welding and working on a job site.

“I have a lot of knowledge to give them. I have done a lot of work and will bring that experience into the classroom,” he said.

TSTC is offering several Occupational Skills Awards programs this fall. With unemployment increasing in Texas, TSTC is partnering with business and industry through the RISE program to get Texans back to work. The short-term, skills-focused courses provide students with the ability to gain basic technical skills to start an entry-level career.

“From there, through hard work and determination, students can enhance their skills and earn promotions,” Lewis said.

For more information on the Occupational Skills Awards courses, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programslist/rise.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Computer Networking students to use virtual software program

(ABILENE, Texas) – A new program will allow Computer Networking and Systems Administration students at Texas State Technical College to work on equipment virtually.

TSTC will use the NetLab program for virtual lab sessions, instructor Adrian Medrano said.

“NetLab is very popular for remote training,” Medrano said. “The benefits are amazing.”

Students will use the program to work on a computer system online just like the real instruments. Medrano said students will operate instruments with knobs and buttons the same way they would an actual computer. Measurements will be displayed on the computer screen to help students during the lab session, he added.

“Having NetLab is huge. Companies like Cisco and Microsoft use this for training their employees,” Medrano said. “With the push to move everything online, we are looking forward to getting this content to our students.”

Medrano is no stranger to the program. He said TSTC instructors have used it for their own training sessions held throughout the state.

“I enjoy working with this program. It is easy to navigate,” he said. “I see nothing but smooth sailing for our students when they use NetLab.”

The program will allow Medrano and other instructors to achieve their goal of providing companies with a “well-rounded individual for an IT (information technology) department.”

“We are not going to focus on one certain area. By the time a student graduates, they will learn how to take apart and put back together a computer system,” Medrano said. “They will know how to put a computer on a company network, share files, and other aspects of computer networking.”

That knowledge is important in today’s business world, according to Medrano.

“Sharing information between computers in a business is the main aspect of the network,” he said.

Another area in which students will gain knowledge is security settings.

“We are going to teach students how to make a computer virus-free and to make sure no one hacks into the system,” Medrano said. “We are going to teach all of the security tactics they will need, as well as the difference between a virus, worm and Trojan software.”

Medrano said students will become knowledgeable about routers and switches.

“They will know the difference between a home router and routers used at small businesses,” he said. “Students are going to know exactly how the internet happens when they complete the program. They are going to know how they can send something from their home to around the world with just one click.”

Medrano said the online classes will benefit students.

“This will give students a lot of flexibility, and they can remain safe,” he said. “We are going to deliver our content via video, but it will still have a classroom feel.”

Medrano said instructors were recorded during classes last spring, and those videos will be used for classroom lessons during the upcoming school year.

“Students will be able to watch the video at their convenience and then practice what they learned with NetLab,” he said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Ready to Welcome Students Back This Fall in North Texas

(RED OAK, Texas) – Students attending Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus will see differences in how they learn and interact as they start the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31.

“I think the exciting part of the fall to me is we have new students coming to campus to begin their educational journey,” said Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus. “The new students, the returning students, the faculty and staff all get to participate in rebuilding the economy of Texas.”

Students will see ample signage promoting campus health and safety, as well as more hand-sanitizing stations. Students will need to wear face coverings at all times, and go in and out of designated entrances and exits at the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center. There will be more social distancing in labs. Students will not be allowed on the second floor.

One of the biggest changes is how classes will be taught, which began being modified in late March.

Programs that will be taught in an all-online format are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, and Cybersecurity.

Programs that will be taught in a hybrid format are Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Power and Controls; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology; Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology. 

“The only time the students will be on campus is to complete the labs,” said Matthew Dobbs, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program. “This will allow the students that work to either have all afternoon or morning to work, or several weekdays  to allow for more work time.”

Tutoring will be available virtually. Students will need to go to TSTC’s student portal and click on the tutoring icon to fill out a form requesting help. The tutoring staff will connect students virtually to statewide tutors in their subject areas.

One thing that is not changing is TSTC’s commitment to its students.

Career Services is going virtual with its employer spotlights, career preparation workshops and one-on-one meetings with students using Webex and Google Meet.

“Since virtual platforms are the latest and most effective way of communication to ensure social distancing, students are going to have to adapt and get comfortable with speaking in front of a webcam and being spoken to from a computer monitor or laptop,” said Adrian Castanon, a TSTC Career Services coordinator.”

Castanon will have on-campus office hours each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Aug. 12. He will also be available virtually to work with students Monday through Friday.

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

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

TSTC Ready to Welcome Students Back This Fall in Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – Students attending Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus will see differences in how they learn and interact as they start the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31.

Students will see ample signage promoting campus health and safety, and social distancing will be practiced in labs. Students will also have designated entrances and exits at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. Face coverings will be required on campus at all times. 

One of the biggest changes is how classes will be taught, which began being modified in late March.

The Cybersecurity program and the first-semester college preparation course will move online.

The Culinary Arts, Industrial Systems, Precision Machining Technology, Welding Technology and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology programs will teach in a hybrid format, with on-campus labs and online lectures and tests. 

The new format is something Nelson Adams, lead instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, is excited about. The revamped curriculum will teach students what Adams said employers are looking for, graduates who have sound customer service and soft skills, along with the ability to ask for help and accept feedback.

“There will be a social aspect as they (students) share their discoveries with their cohort by way of short videos or posts,” Adams said. “Our students will be learning a full dimension of the industry that they are entering. Culinary Arts students will not just be watching videos. Instead, they will be studying recipes, costing out ingredients, researching cultures, and coming into the lab to demonstrate what they have learned by cooking the food they understand in a whole new spectrum.”

Tutoring will be available virtually. Students will go to TSTC’s student portal and click on the tutoring icon to fill out a form requesting help. The tutoring staff will connect students virtually to statewide tutors in their subject areas.

Something that is not changing is the commitment to students.

“Career Services is always here to help students, pandemic or not,” said Hunter Henry, a Career Services associate at the Williamson County campus. “From our side of things, students can feel safe in knowing that we can do practically all of our work with them without needing to be in the same room. On top of that, we still have employers hungry for the kinds of skills we teach here at TSTC.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

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


Dental assistant course to be offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus

(ABILENE, Texas) – To help fill the need for dental assistants, Texas State Technical College will offer a special workforce training program this fall.

The nine-week course will be held in Abilene and include 100 hours of classroom instruction and 40 clinical hours. Classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 21.

“The purpose of the program is to familiarize students with all areas of administrative and clinical dental assisting, focusing on the responsibilities required to function as an assistant in a dental practice,” said Cindy Brunett, TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education project manager.

Nationwide, there is a need for health care-related services, including dental assistants.

“With a workforce of over 300,000 strong, dental assisting ranks as the fourth-fastest-growing occupation in the health care technician field,” Brunett said.

To be eligible for the program, students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED. Brunett said students must also provide their own scrubs and pass a background check.

During the program, students will learn about dental office policies and guidelines, legal aspects of the practice, dental equipment and tooth structure.

One reason for offering the fast-track program was to attract military spouses in the Abilene area.

“When the students complete the course, they will be able to get their national certification,” Brunett said. “If they move from Dyess Air Force Base, they will be recognized as a dental assistant if they pass the certification.”

Upon course completion, students will be prepared to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam, Radiation Health and Safety exam and DANB Infection Control exam, she said.

Tuition costs include the textbook, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners exam fees and proctoring, a CPR certification course and the 40-hour clinical externship.

Brunett said with unemployment rates still near all-time highs, people are looking for a career opportunity.

“The need for these fast-track programs is especially high right now. This is the perfect time to roll out a program like this,” she said. “Many people may be looking at a career change, and this is a good first step.”

Plans are to hold classes in person this fall with all safety protocols in place to allow for social distancing. Brunett said that could change if required by state or local officials.

“We will have the capability to provide this program online,” she said. “Right now, the program is open on a first-come, first-served basis, and we are excited to provide this to our community.”

For more information on the course, contact Teresa Adames at teresa.adames@tstc.edu or Brunett at cindy.brunett@tstc.edu.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

Wind Energy Technology instructor helps students reach for the sky

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Inspired by his own educators when he was a student at Texas State Technical College, Eutiquio Calderon is now paying it forward as an instructor for TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program. He is not only a mentor for his students, but also someone who constantly encourages them to reach for the sky.

“I am strict as an instructor, but I am also easy to get along with,” he said. “I encourage those who need it, praise students who deserve it, and always give a helping hand to those who ask for one.”

Calderon’s wife once reminded him of his goal to become an instructor after he graduated from college.

“Years ago, my wife told me that I mentioned that I wanted to gain work experience so that one day I could come back and become an instructor,” he said. “Four years later, I am here loving what I do — helping others achieve their education and career goals.”

Seeing students grow intellectually through their education is one of his favorite aspects of being an instructor.

“My students are like my children,” he said. “I see them grow as individuals in the year and a half that they are in my courses. I enjoy receiving emails from them saying that they are enjoying my classes. I have even received pictures from some beautiful wind farms that they are working in.”

Calderon said he enjoys celebrating educational milestones with his students.

“Some of my favorite memories are the graduation ceremonies,” he said. “Students are happy to be moving forward in their lives and are celebrated by friends and family. Some of them even ask me to be in their photos. It’s a proud feeling.”

Calderon’s passion also comes from a very personal anecdote that he takes with him into the classroom.

“I advise them with the mentality that my grandmother, Julia Calderon, would give to me: ‘Lo mas importante en la vida es la educacion,’” he said. “The most important thing in life is education.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind energy technology is expected to grow exponentially through 2028 and beyond.

To learn more about the program at TSTC, visit https://www.tstc.edu/programs/WindEnergyTechnology.

TSTC alumna brings taste of Colombia to the Valley

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Inspired by the coffee farm on which she was raised in her native Colombia, Johanna Lozano began her coffee company, Cafe Canasto, in 2018.

Lozano received her Associate of Applied Science degree from Texas State Technical College in Business Management Technology in 2015. She went on to work for the Texas Department of State Health Services before resigning in 2018 to make her love for coffee her full-time job.

“I grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia,” she said. “I have always been passionate about coffee. I saw the opportunity to start importing my own coffee, so I created the Cafe Canasto brand.”

For 1 1/2 years, Lozano catered and distributed her coffee brand all over the United States. This year she opened her own coffee shop in Brownsville to serve an array of Colombian treats and coffee creations.

“After seeing how well people were embracing a different culture and our Colombian food and drinks, I decided to open my shop,” she said. “Cafe Canasto finally opened its doors to the public in March.”

This important chapter in her life could not have been accomplished without those who are most important to her.

“I have loved my entrepreneurial journey very much,” Lozano said. “My husband has been my biggest supporter, and the community has truly given us their love.”

Some of Lozano’s fondest moments are the extracurricular activities she participated in at TSTC.

“Serving as the student government president left me with many great memories,” she said. “It not only allowed me to advocate for students, but I grew tremendously as a person.”

Student government was not the only opportunity that she had to reveal her leadership ability.

“Because of TSTC, I was able to become involved with the community,” Lozano said. “I was able to go to Washington, D.C., to meet other student leaders from all over the nation.”

Lozano said her time at TSTC gave her a learning experience that benefits her business venture, and the support she received outside the classroom is something she holds dear.

“TSTC is not only a great school that provides you with the necessary tools and knowledge to succeed, but the leaders there are very supportive, and that really makes a difference in students’ lives,” she reiterated. “Honestly, I could write a book about all the help and professional tools I received at TSTC.”

Cafe Canasto is located at 4008 Paredes Line Road in Brownsville.

To learn more about TSTC’s Business Management Technology program, visit https://tstc.edu/programs/BusinessManagementTechnology.

TSTC Mechatronics Technology offers degree for thriving job market

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Digital circuits, manufacturing robotics and electromechanical systems are only a few of the hands-on courses that students will take when they study Mechatronics Technology at Texas State Technical College.

Lead mechatronics instructor Eldwin Leija, who has taught at TSTC for nine years, talked about the importance of mechatronics.

“Mechatronics is the study and use of multiple disciplines,” he said. “It can range from industrial maintenance to industrial robotics technology and process controls. We help maintain the equipment that helps make the products we use every single day.”

TSTC prides itself on a dedicated learning experience that trains graduates to be ready to work on day one — an important program characteristic.

“We have a solid curriculum, supplemented with industry-relevant equipment,” Leija said. “Even during these times, we have managed to have hands-on labs on the TSTC campus while strictly following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 regulations. Our teaching staff has years of industry experience related to what we are teaching. When students graduate, we top that off by helping them find a career in what they studied.”

Leija reiterated that despite these unforeseen times, the need for mechatronics technicians will not disappear.

“As long as the world needs gasoline, oil, natural gas and manufactured goods, such as food packaging, clothes, makeup, bottled water and vehicles, mechatronics technicians will always be in demand,” he said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.


TSTC HVAC Technology introduces hybrid teaching format for fall semester

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program will use a hybrid teaching model this fall. But the instructor that students will see teaching online may not be from their home campus.

The program’s faculty from the East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas and Waco campuses will teach courses online to students statewide. Students will complete hands-on labs on their home campuses.

This is the first time the faculty at the campuses have united to teach like this.

“HVAC Technology is going to be one of the first programs to have statewide lectures this fall,” said Lance Lucas, statewide department chair for the program. “For example, one of our instructors out of Waco will be the instructor for lectures for our basic electricity class across the state.”

The hybrid method will apply to every course in HVAC Technology.

“It keeps continuity between the different classes with the hybrid,” said Curtis Christian, an instructor in East Williamson County’s HVAC Technology program. “It will kind of simplify instruction.”

Christian will teach some of Fort Bend County’s HVAC students in the fall. He said he looks forward to meeting them online and listening to the questions they will ask.

Lucas said the current pandemic has created more job opportunities in the HVAC industry. He stated that more people working remotely means that there is a greater need for them to maintain comfort in the heat.

“The outlook is great for HVAC technicians,” he said. “This is Texas, and we always need cooling. With so many people working from home and having their air conditioning units running all day, this industry will not slow down.”

Registration continues statewide for the fall semester.  For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.


TSTC Student Receives National AAMI Scholarship

(WACO, Texas) – A Texas State Technical College student has received a scholarship from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. 

Joseph Rowan of Waco has been awarded the AAMI Foundation Michael J. Miller Scholarship. He is a TSTC candidate for graduation this month and will earn associate degrees in Biomedical Equipment Technology and Medical Imaging Systems Technology Specialization. 

“TSTC has been a blessing,” Rowan said. “It’s changed my life.”

Victor Fowler, an instructor in TSTC’s Medical Imaging Systems Technology Specialization program, taught Rowan in some of his classes.

“Students like Joseph really help to raise the bar in class and give many other students a leader to which they can look up and try to be like,” Fowler said. “He pays attention and listens very well and therefore quickly understands the concepts being taught, which becomes very evident by the way he excels in hands-on labs.”

Rowan spent six years as a KC-135 aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. After he left the military, he attended Tarrant County College and Texas A&M University, and discovered an interest in biological science and health care. But after taking nursing classes at Texas A&M, Rowan had a change of mind about his career path.

“At TAMU, the pressure and pace of nursing school led me into the uneasy feeling of an identity crisis,” Rowan wrote in his scholarship essay. “At my foundation, I was a military-trained aircraft mechanic with an aptitude and desire to work in health care. As I carefully audited my skills and needs that fall in 2018, I discovered a place where my two selves converged: the field of health care technology.”

He shadowed in the clinical engineering department at CHI St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital in Bryan to see what the work was like. He enrolled in spring 2019 at TSTC.

“I have discovered the fulfillment that I was missing,” Rowan wrote in his scholarship essay. “Another way I am finding contentment is by tutoring other students in the program who struggle to understand the technical theory, hands-on application or medical connection. Each day I attend my classes eager to learn from my instructors as I move one step closer to graduating and starting my new career.”

Rowan will start later this month as a medical imaging field service engineer for Hitachi Healthcare Americas in Salt Lake City. He will work from home and specialize in maintaining the company’s MRI machines and CT scanners in Utah, with occasional work in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Rowan has his sights set on bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the future, along with moving up in a leadership role in his company.

“I believe that health care technology has many needs,” Rowan wrote in his scholarship essay. “I hope to bring my wisdom, knowledge and perseverance into the field to lead and inspire other professionals in the challenge of adapting and meeting these needs.”

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