TSTC Graduates Help Rebuild Puerto Rico Power Grid

(MARSHALL) – In the wake of last year’s Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was in shambles. With many residents left without electricity, some of Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker graduates working for Oncor wanted to help restore power to the storm-ravaged island.

TSTC alumni Sawyer Prestridge, a 2015 graduate, and Paul Sheppard, a 2013 graduate, are among many Oncor employees recently sent by the electric service provider to assist in the island’s recovery efforts.

Prestridge left for Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in January to help rebuild the electrical grid. He volunteered to help restore the grid because he wanted to help the residents.

“It felt really good,” he said. “It was definitely a humbling experience working there. It was hard work.”

Sheppard worked in the same city in February.

“I wanted to help out,” he said. “I wanted to use the skills I was given to help the people there get the lights on. It’s a good deed.”

Prestridge said the concrete houses he saw weren’t too badly damaged, but power lines were down and wreckage was far and wide.

“There was debris everywhere,” he said. “Downed trees were stacked up 70 feet high. We mainly picked up wire and changed out electrical poles.”

Sheppard shared the same sentiments.

“It was still pretty bad,” Sheppard said. “We were sent to one of the most mountainous areas there, so not everything is accessible by truck. Trees had to be cut, but the vegetation grows back every day because it rains every day. The humidity is 100 percent. It looked like nobody had been there.”

Sheppard said the change in environment made the work difficult.

“It was definitely the hardest work I’ve done in my life,” he said. “Here in East Texas, I’m not used to all the mountains and stuff like that. It was definitely a different type of work area. The infrastructure is totally different there than it is here. The weather — it rains every single day. It may rain for 45 minutes and stop for an hour or two and then rain again. It was a totally different experience from working here in East Texas.”

TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Statewide Department Chair Eric Carithers said he is very proud of the graduates for volunteering to work on the island.

“The dedication that it takes to not only do line work, but being young in your career and being away from home for weeks to months at a time, is challenging — especially if it’s their first time being away from their families like that,” Carithers said.

Oncor has sent 80 employees to help restore power to the territory.

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Fort Bend’s Annual Open House a Success

(FORT BEND COUNTY) – Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County held its annual open house Friday, opening its campus for program tours and meetings with faculty. The event, designed for prospective students who want to learn more about the college, hosted more than 200 visitors.

Coordinator of student recruitment Marigold Sagrado said she hoped the open house event would help give the college more visibility.

“I want to help spread the word about TSTC in the Houston and greater surrounding areas,” she said. “I also hope they took away that technical education is important and can offer a high-paying career.”

Visitors touring the campus’ 10 programs were able to participate in hands-on activities.

“In our Precision Machining program, our guests had the opportunity to create keychains on our CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines,” Sagrado said. “They got to see students climbing poles in Electrical Lineworker Technology. Robotics demoed the robots for visitors, and Electrical Power & Controls did a demonstration on electricity. It was a lot of fun.”

Sagrado said the college’s unique programs are what drew many of the visitors.

“Our attendees are looking for programs in these fields, but there aren’t a lot of schools offering them,” she said. “I think that piqued their interest to check out more.”

Other guests heard about the college by word of mouth.

“People are talking about their experience at TSTC and how the learning experience is different from any other college or university,” Sagrado said.

TSTC’s Student Recruitment office made some changes to open house this year hoping reach a broader audience.

“This year, our event lasted until 7 p.m.,” she said. “We wanted to try to reach some of the nontraditional students who may work during the day.”

Isaac Rush, an attendee who has now decided to enroll at TSTC in the fall, said he found the event beneficial.

“Not only were the teachers very helpful, but the student volunteers were just as helpful too,” he said. “The students were intertwined with their field of study, which helped me in selecting what I want to major in at TSTC. All in all, TSTC is a great environment.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Students Bused to Waco for Job Fair

(HUTTO) – More than a dozen Texas State Technical College students from the East Williamson County Higher Education Center made their way to TSTC in Waco Thursday, March 22, for the college’s annual Industry Job Fair.

Over 100 employers attended the event looking to meet, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s programs.

This was the first year that the college’s Williamson County campus had bused students to the job fair.

“For years now, it’s been an issue of transportation,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “We’re trying to do what we can for our students.”

TSTC field development officer Michael Smith echoed those sentiments.

“I heard from several different instructors over the year that either they had to drive them up there or they (students) had to drive on their own, and how it would be neat if we had a bus,” Smith said. “I heard that over and over, and so I told Edgar, ‘I think we should do a bus this year,’ and we started researching the cost.”

Ellis & Salazar Automotive & Collision volunteered to sponsor the bus to help the students reach more opportunities.

“We’re working with Ellis & Salazar on a different project, so I mentioned it to them and said this would really help us,” Smith said.

Smith hopes the students had a positive experience at the event.

“They’re getting to meet with these companies and see the full range of services that TSTC offers,” he said. “It’s not just coming to class and going home. Career Services will be out there to help and answer resume questions, and all the other pieces that go into making sure they’re prepared for a job when they leave. Ultimately the goal is for them to leave with a job.”

Cyber Security student Jeremiah Southern was well prepared for the event.

“I had my resumes ready and researched the companies that were there to see what positions they had open and learn about their backgrounds,” Southern said. “Some of the companies that were there, even though they weren’t there specifically looking for what my particular field will be, it just takes asking. In IT and networking, there’s always something that could be available. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”

Southern enjoyed the event overall and found some promising opportunities to follow up on.

“There were a lot of companies and a lot of students,” he said. “It was my first time going to a job fair, and I look forward to going to more. There were some great opportunities with the Civilian Air Force and Aerotek. Aerotek specifically said they need Cisco people, so that was really promising.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC hosts annual counselor update

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College hosted its annual Dual Enrollment Counselor Update and Luncheon Wednesday, March 21.

High school counselors, administrators and teachers from the surrounding area attended the event, which was held at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Megan McBride, dual enrollment advisor at TSTC, stressed the need for the updates.

“It’s important that we hold these events so we can educate the counselors about dual enrollment statewide, not just for TSTC, but from the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the Higher Education Coordinating Board standpoints also,” she said.

Marina Wilcox, TSTC vice president of dual enrollment, spoke about the importance of two Texas House bills: one that impacts the way high school students choose courses with a career goal in mind, and another that requires high schools to improve student performance.

Wilcox also elaborated on some of the dual enrollment programs offered by the college.

“If you go to the Texas Workforce Commission website, there’s this really cool thing called Career Check,” Wilcox said in her presentation. “If you look at Industrial Maintenance with a Certificate I, you start out with a salary of $53,000. It’s a high-tech field that’s very skilled, and we offer pathways in that.”

TSTC representatives also covered new forms and changes in the admissions process and general business for the 2018-19 academic year.

“We’ve simplified our processes,” McBride said. “We’re also working more closely with admissions to streamline those processes. Most importantly, we’ve updated the dual enrollment website, and that’s a huge improvement for us.”

Earlier this year, TSTC announced new, fully online pathways in Cyber Security, Digital Media Design, and Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online.

“Pretty much all of the West Texas high schools that partner with us have opted for these programs since they’re so spread out,” McBride said. “With us, the majority are opting in for these online pathways as well.”

For more information on TSTC and its dual enrollment program, visit de.tstc.edu.

TSTC in Waco Hosts Industry Job Fair for Students

(WACO) – More than 650 Texas State Technical College students met potential employers from throughout Texas on Thursday at its Industry Job Fair.

Two lift trucks provided by Versalift in Waco were parked at the corner of Campus Drive and Scott Circle in front of the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center, where more than 100 businesses set up tables and displays. This was the largest Industry Job Fair the campus has ever held.

Bruce Hardt, Versalift’s human resources director, said the company was looking for students to fill welding, production assistant, service technician, warehouse parts puller, panting and other positions that are available right now.

“We are a local company and TSTC is local, and we need to capture people to keep them here,” Hardt said. “We have had a lot of traffic today. It’s been good.”

Representatives of Austin-based Aerotek were seeking to meet students to fill technology, manufacturing, maintenance and engineering positions. Jaime Valdez, an Aerotek commercial account manager, said he was collecting resumes from students throughout the morning.

“We try to get to a lot of the job fairs to find fresh students,” said Valdez. “The tech schools are our niche.”

Jacob Matson, an instrumentation department supervisor at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, was looking to meet instrumentation students. The Austin company has more than 3,000 employees and is one of the largest semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States.

“Emerging technology requires emerging talent,” Matson said.

Tractor Supply Co., which has locations throughout Central Texas, has openings for material handlers and maintenance mechanics. Ashley R. Willis, a company human resources specialist in Waco, said there are plans to expand to at least 2,000 stores nationwide in the next five years.

“We have positions that need to be filled,” Willis said. “We are a rapidly growing company. We open a new store every four days around the country. We would like to build a great connection with TSTC.”

Sara Mardanbigi, a traveling recruiter for Torchy’s Tacos in Austin, did not bring samples of the restaurant’s popular gourmet tacos. But, she did bring details of supply chain, information technology and maintenance technician positions available. Torchy’s Tacos has 60 locations in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas and has plans to move into other states.

Some TSTC alumni worked at tables representing B&W Energy Services in Deer Park and ProPetro Services Inc. in Midland.

Jason Lehrmann graduated in 2017 from TSTC with associate degrees in Environmental Technology Compliance and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology. He began an internship with Manitou Group in May and was hired full time as soon as he graduated in August. Lehrmann is a safety supervisor and human resources assistant at the company that produces telehandlers, backhoe loaders, aerial work platforms and other heavy equipment.

“It feels really good seeing the students I went to school with and coming to the table,” Lehrmann said.

Some students planning to graduate this semester were figuring out their future work plans.

Ann-Marie Garza, a Web Design and Development Technology major from McGregor, said she became interested in web design after being encouraged by a high school teacher to pursue the field to study.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get an idea of where I want to work, so any job will do,” she said. “But, this is really helpful in getting started.”

Jaren Gillis, 24, of Waco is studying Cyber Security and has attended previous campus employment events. He said he always starts out walking around the student recreation center and then zeroing in on specific businesses.

“I think it’s always good seeing what the market looks like and to talk to the employers and seeing what they look for,” Gillis said.

William Hammond, an aviation maintenance student from Groesbeck, said the companies represented know TSTC’s students come with ample hands-on experience that sets them above others.

“I’m looking for a job that pays well and offers good benefits and retirement,” he said. “I have to start thinking long term, and these companies here are ready to offer that.”

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

Waco Transit System Utilizing TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Students

(WACO) – When people wind down at home or lift reps at the gym after a long day at work, the Waco Transit System’s maintenance department livens up with its own activity.

And, some of the employees making this happen have ties to Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program.

“We always keep six to 10 of the kids on board,” said Waco Transit System Director of Maintenance Steve Edgar. “We work late evenings and it is flexible with their classes. If it wasn’t for the tech students, I would be in a bind.”

Caleb Hensley, 19, of Waco and Malaci Moore, 19, of Elm Mott are two of the TSTC students who work in the maintenance shop in downtown Waco. Both students are scheduled to graduate in April from TSTC. The students work with preventive maintenance along with repairing air and fuel leaks and hydraulics.

“I like the controlled environment,” Hensley said. “This is my first shop. I have always worked on vehicles, but I liked heavier equipment.”

Moore came to Waco Transit with knowledge accumulated from his relatives working in the oil fields. He said laboring at the transit agency has been a good experience and one to help him as he secures a job working on mechanical equipment in the oil fields after graduation.

“There are some things you can’t teach in a classroom compared to a shop,” Moore said.

Edgar said Waco Transit has worked with the Diesel Equipment Technology program for more than two decades, hiring students and enabling them to get professional work experience. He said while the technical college provides the industry knowledge for students, it is businesses like Waco Transit that can provide the hands-on work to fine-tune skills.

“Steve and them are a blessing,” said Richard Stranacher, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program. “The students get the exposure, and he critiques and hone their skills over there.”

Waco Transit is not just city buses and trolleys circling downtown. The agency provides bus service for Baylor University, shuttles for Baylor football games, shuttles to and from Waco Regional Airport, services for McLennan County Rural Transit, and vans for Americans with Disabilities Act and Medicaid patients.

New employees typically start as mechanics’ helpers, Edgar said. He said some of the traits he looks for in potential employees include common sense and flexibility. He said the first test for applicants is to see if they follow directions in filling out the employment application.

“If they show will and determination to learn, they move into the shop to do preventive maintenance,” he said. “With these kids, I always encourage school, No. 1; work is No. 2. We have to pace them.”

David Villatoro, 28, of Robinson began work at Waco Transit while he was a TSTC student and was hired fulltime after graduation in 2009. He is a technician who started working evenings and eventually moved up to a daytime shift. A lot of his work involves preventive maintenance, heating and cooling systems and wheelchair lifts.

“When I started, I was doing tires,” said Villatoro. “I got familiarized with the vehicles and preventive maintenance and then worked on the electrical side. I caught on really fast.”

Villatoro, a 2007 graduate of Stony Point High School in Round Rock, said he grew up with an interest in cars.

“But, everything in diesel is bigger,” he said.

Further training beyond daily work is done by vendors contracted to provide purchased vehicles, Edgar said.

Edgar said the transit agency could also use current students or graduates in other fields, including automotive technology, auto collision and welding, to fill work gaps.

The Waco Transit Authority is a wholly owned subsidiary of RATP Dev and contracts with the city of Waco. The agency has 140 employees in administration, maintenance and operations.

TSTC in Waco offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology with specializations in Off-Highway Equipment, John Deere Construction and Forestry, or Heavy Truck. TSTC in Waco also offers certificates in Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck and Off-Highway Equipment.

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

TSTC in Abilene Seeking Faculty for New Technical Programs

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College is looking for team members.

With a reputation for hiring faculty who have real-world industry experience, TSTC in searching for teaching candidates to teach in Abilene.

TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center is currently under construction on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport and will house three new TSTC programs: Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance and Welding Technology.

Quality faculty are key to helping students become well-trained employees.

“The knowledge the faculty brings to the classroom and labs is hard to quantify,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater. “You are conveying that information to the student that has maybe limited knowledge. They are preparing those students upon graduation to get into industry and get those great paying jobs.”

TSTC will hire for four full-time instructors and two adjunct instructors in Electrical Power and Controls and Industrial Maintenance. There will also be two full-time instructors hired for the welding program. A program maintenance specialist will be hired who will help instructors prepare classrooms and equipment for labs, grade papers and other tasks needed by instructors, said Rhiannon M. Hastings, lead statewide recruiter in TSTC Human Resources.

People interested in the jobs need to have at least an associate degree in one of the fields and at least three years of professional field experience. Applicants should also have professional certifications as needed for their fields, Hastings said.

Dan Bateman, a senior instructor in the Electrical Power and Controls program at TSTC in Waco, is leading the creation of the new associate degree program in Abilene.

“What we need is someone with utility or testing and maintenance experience along with utility design,” he said.

The number of electrical engineers is expected to grow by more than 16,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. West Texas had more than 400 jobs in May 2016, according to the federal agency.

David A. Junek, TSTC’s statewide department chairman for Industrial Systems and Engineering Technology, said he wants to see Industrial Maintenance faculty members who have the academic experience and have gotten their hands dirty in the workplace. Faculty will teach students earning the program’s associate degree which has an electrical specialization.

“Industrial Maintenance graduates are maintenance technicians that can not only make repairs to mechanical equipment, but are also trained to troubleshoot electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems as well.”

Jobs for industrial machinery mechanics are expected to increase by more than 23,000 jobs nationwide through 2026, according to the federal labor statistics agency. In May 2016, there were more than 4,000 industrial machinery mechanics jobs in West Texas, with the most being centered in Odessa and Midland, according to the federal agency.

Faculty in Abilene will teach classes in the first Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology being offered at the TSTC campuses in West Texas.

The number of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the United States is expected to grow by 22,500 jobs nationwide through 2026. West Texas had more than 4,700 jobs in these fields as of May 2016, according to the federal agency.

The Electrical Power and Controls and Welding Technology programs are part of TSTC’s Money Back Guarantee initiative. Students in these programs who do not get a job in their field within six months of graduation will get their tuition back.

Hastings said Human Resources’ goal is to have the new faculty hired by early summer so they can set up classrooms and labs with new equipment in the building. Students in the programs will be able to take classes from faculty members and adjuncts in the daytime and evenings.

TSTC is a state institution offering Health Select of Texas administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid vacation, sick leave and state holidays, dental insurance, vision insurance,  life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement. In addition, the technical college offers employee development and employee appreciation events as part of its overarching goal to make TSTC a great place to work.

For more information on employment at Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu/about/employment.


TSTC to Host Program Highlight Day

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College in North Texas will host Program Highlight Day for its Electrical Power & Controls program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 22.

Prospective students will be able to participate in hands-on activities directed by Electrical Power & Controls faculty and learn more about the program, which covers engineering, design, installation, calibration, testing, troubleshooting, computer instrumentation, robotics interfacing, and electrical construction.

An associate degree in Electrical Power & Controls is also covered under TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. If graduates of the program do not find a job in their field within six months of graduating, they will receive their tuition back.

Those interested in attending the event can register at http://bit.ly/tstcepc.

Who: Texas State Technical College
What: Electrical Power & Controls Program Highlight Day
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 22
Where: TSTC in North Texas, 119 N. Lowrance Road, Red Oak, Texas 75154

TSTC in Marshall Hosts Annual Job Fair

(MARSHALL) – Students at Texas State Technical College walked into the college’s annual job fair Tuesday with resumes in hand, hoping to leave with the promise of a job.

More than 30 employers set up at the job fair to meet with, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s 12 programs offered at the Marshall campus.

Hannah Luce, coordinator of Career Services at TSTC, said the event went well.

“It’s probably near the same turnout we usually have,” Luce said. “The job fair gives our students a good showcase of the variety of companies that are out there hiring them. It gives them networking opportunities.”

Luce said many employers were anxious to set up interviews with the students.

“Tons of students were handing out their resumes and the employers were asking for them, ready to get them in and interviewed,” she said.

Dustin Deberry, remote operations project supervisor for Matheson Gas, said the company came looking to fill positions in industrial maintenance and process operations.

“We had come and done some interviews about a month or so ago, and we liked everybody we talked to,” Deberry said. “We’ve had some promising candidates today. We want them to come to the plant that they’d be interviewing for and speak directly with the plant manager and the zone manager.”

Joe Razza, regional recruiter in Texas and Louisiana for Crown Lift Trucks, said the company does a lot of work with TSTC.

“I’ve had an ongoing relationship with the diesel and industrial maintenance programs and the instructors, so a lot of these individuals I’ve spoken with in the past,” Razza said. “Today is more of a networking event, answering any questions they might have. For the most part they’ve come up pretty prepared with resumes and things like that, so it’s been pretty good.”

Razza said the quality of individuals the college is producing is one of the many reasons why Crown maintains a great relationship with TSTC.

“We also see the passion and drive of the employees that are training those individuals, and that makes it rewarding for us,” he said.

Crown Lift has also offered workshops at TSTC’s campuses statewide to help better prepare students for the workforce.

“We’re not only offering the soft skills workshops and things like that to programs that pertain to us,” Razza said. “We’re offering them campus-wide at all the locations, to kind of give back to TSTC. The students are obtaining all of the things that they need to be successful in their career from the campuses. The soft skills give them an edge up on the competition, and we want them to be successful whether they pursue us or somebody else.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC recruiter serves as inspiration to students

(FORT BEND) – Yulonda Durst, who survived a childhood of poverty and overcame personal hardships as an adult, is now at Texas State Technical College as a student recruiter hoping to help young people find a better life through education.

Durst was raised in Beaumont and as a young girl, along with her four siblings, was homeless, usually forced to spend days apart from her family.

“We were a large family, and it was difficult for family to take all of us in,” she said. “But through it all my mom remained positive, kept us praying and reminded us that struggles were temporary.”

And temporary they were.

Durst and her family slowly moved up from homelessness to a house with no electricity to the projects and finally to a house they could call their own after Durst’s mother married.

The Beaumont native grew up to be a licensed cosmetologist, a youth pastor for New Hope Deliverance Ministry, a church in her hometown, and a college graduate.Yulonda Durst - TSTC Student Recruiter

She earned an associate degree from a technology school in Beaumont in Business Computer Information Systems in 2012 while working and raising her seven children.

“It wasn’t easy, but I wanted more for me and my family. So I pushed forward,” she said.

While juggling her salon, Graceful Hands Beauty Salon, established in 2005, a newfound career as a financial aid representative at her alma mater, and her family, more life challenges were thrown her way.

A fire, which was ruled arson, destroyed her salon on Thanksgiving Day 2016 and a divorce left Durst in pieces and feeling discouraged.

“I didn’t rebuild. I wanted a brand new start,” she said. “And it was while looking for a place to live in the Houston area that I drove by TSTC and told my children, ‘I’m going to work there someday.’”

It was only two weeks before Hurricane Harvey that Durst and her children began a new life in Houston. She said she is thankful that her family was okay and their properties did not suffer damage.

“We were blessed, but many weren’t so lucky,” she said.

Knowing this is what encouraged her to volunteer at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston and work as a FEMA contractor for four months before getting a job at TSTC.

Durst is now the newest student recruiter at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus and said she was immediately impressed with the campus and its employees.

“At TSTC I feel like we’re all equal. I’m part of one great, big family,” she said. “It’s all hands on deck, no matter your position. There’s so much unity.”

Durst has many goals for her new position, but her main one is to encourage higher education in students who don’t see it as a possibility.

“I always tell students that education is the key that opens doors,” she said. “I believe everyone has the potential of getting a college degree.”

Durst added, “TSTC is a two-year college that places students on a career path,” she said. “When a student enters TSTC they are taking steps toward a new career and life.”

Durst, who is still a youth pastor, said she hopes to grow with the college by being the continued support TSTC students need.

For more information the programs offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, visit tstc.edu.

Registration for Summer and Fall 2018 begins April 2.