TSTC Cyber Security Reinforces Importance of Protection in Health Care Industry

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Just like illnesses invade the body, so can viruses of a more technical kind invade digital devices.

The health care industry is entrusted with sensitive patient information, and Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security program trains technicians to diagnose vulnerabilities and protect data from intrusion in digital systems such as those maintained by hospitals and medical offices.

Some of the biggest security problems plaguing health care include phishing emails, human error, and the compromise of digital devices by third-party vendors, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2019 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey.

Less than half of the problems were discovered by internal security teams, according to the survey.

“Cybersecurity is essential for any business that has government regulations policing it,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in the Cyber Security program at TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Health care is a great example of that due to thorough and complex HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) regulations aimed at protecting patient privacy, whether it be a family practice or a whole system of hospitals.”

Texas has more than 24,800 cybersecurity jobs currently open, according to Cyberseek.org. More than 60,000 people are employed statewide in the cybersecurity field.

Hertel said cybersecurity internships can be difficult to get in the health care industry because of the patient data being stored. But, graduates can be hired as entry-level analysts to build trust in their workplaces.

“Rural health care facilities have a great opportunity to hire TSTC graduates who have first-class cybersecurity knowledge but prefer to stay in the local community instead of moving to a large city,” Hertel said.

David Dowdle, network administrator for HealthCARE Express in Texarkana, which has locations in Longview and Marshall, said geography factors into finding qualified people to fill jobs. He said finding good mentors can help students build on their interest in cybersecurity.

Malicious new viruses — like ransomware, a type of software that denies access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid — are a constant threat.

“I think one of the biggest responsibilities any information technology professional has is to stay on top of the industry news,” Dowdle said. “Ransomware, for example, was not heard of by your average professional a few years ago. By 2015, it was on everyone’s minds. People who were not staying on top of the news were blindsided by ransomware.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security in Marshall and at several other locations throughout the state. A certificate option is available.

“We teach students to plan and implement the policies and procedures that keep health care organizations HIPAA-compliant,” Hertel said. “This includes network setup and security, intrusion detection and prevention, and end-user protection and training.”

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

TSTC HVAC Students Encourage Preventive Maintenance on Air Conditioning Units

(WACO, Texas) – Though the 2019 calendar says the first day of summer is June 21, Texas residents know that hot days and the comfort of air conditioning started much earlier.

On Thursday, June 20, students in Texas State Technical College’s Air Conditioning Troubleshooting class were simulating cold and hot situations on air conditioning systems.

“We are working with high-voltage, spinning unit fans, compressors,” said Derrick Gonzales of Waco, an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Technology major. “We are working with very high pressures and coolant.”

The students, who aspire to be future HVAC technicians, may have a lot of work to do in the future.

The United States, Japan and China are the world’s top users of air conditioning, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2018 study, “The Future of Cooling.” The number of air conditioning units is projected to rise worldwide to more than 5.6 billion by 2050, according to the study.

“With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a prepared statement given at the time of the study. “While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized.”

Gonzales said people should check and replace air filters and replace batteries in indoor thermostats. And, they should watch the direction grass is cut around outdoor units to minimize clogging.

HVAC Technology major Otniel Luviano of Buffalo, Texas, said bad air flow can increase pressure blowouts, especially in older units.

Tim Snyder, an instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said the ideal time to test air conditioning units is between spells of cold and warm weather.

“Most people have companies they call to come and do preventive maintenance,” he said.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation regulates air conditioning and refrigeration contractors who install, repair and maintain systems.

“The best thing for customers is to investigate their contractor,” Luviano said. “If you want to be a good technician, you have to go forward and learn the right way.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and an HVAC technician certificate.

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


Graduates of TSTC’s EMS program in high demand

(HARLINGEN) – Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and paramedics are in high demand across the region and the state with a projected growth of 15 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And EMS instructor Ruben Ramirez said Texas State Technical College is working to fill that skills gap because as long as health emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters and acts of violence continue to occur, the skills of this profession will continue to be in demand.

Ramirez gives us more information.

What is the length of the program?TSTC EMS Program

The EMT basic program is two semesters, while the paramedic program is four semesters. You must be a licensed EMT basic to enter the paramedic program.

What certificates and/or degrees are offered?

The program offers an EMT basic certificate and a paramedic certificate and associate degree.

What skills do you learn in the EMT basic and paramedic programs?

The EMT basic courses will teach the foundations of patient care and life support, such as CPR, oxygen administration, automated external defibrillator (AED) usage and broken bone or spinal cord stabilization.

Paramedic courses will teach advanced life support skills, medication administration, advanced airway procedures, electrocardiogram (EKG) reading and IV administration.

What types of technology are used to learn these skills?

In addition to being instructed by experienced paramedics who have worked in the field, students will also have access to industry-standard technology such as, I-Simulate and Reality tablets that are programmed to give students real-world medical emergency scenarios, adult and pediatric realistic simulation training mannequins and Demo Dose medication kits to practice medicine administration.

How does learning these skills help prepare the student for the workforce?

The skills learned while enrolled in TSTC’s EMT and paramedic courses will give the student the skills they need to handle an emergency situation, no matter how critical. Every shift and every emergency call will put one, if not more, of these skills to use.

Graduates from this program will also be ready to sit and successfully pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, which will allow the graduate to become state licensed and work anywhere in the United States.

Who is hiring graduates from this program?

Graduates from this program get hired locally with companies such as Willacy County EMS, South Texas Emergency Care EMS, Med-Care EMS, Hidalgo County EMS, Weslaco Fire Department, Brownsville Fire Department, federal agencies such as the United States Border Patrol, hospitals and health care clinics.

TSTC aviation maintenance works to meet local, statewide industry demand

(HARLINGEN) – Texas has become one of the most important locations for the aviation and aerospace industry, and students from Texas State Technical College are getting in on the action as graduates from the college’s Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology programs.

TSTC is one of about a dozen colleges in Texas certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to train aviation maintenance technicians.

TSTC lead Aviation Maintenance instructor Tom Cross said he has seen extensive growth in the industry the last few years across the state, meaning that the opportunities for the program’s graduates are increasing.

“There is a shortage of skilled aircraft mechanics,” he said. “There are more mechanics retiring and leaving industry, than those entering. So right now is the time to enter this workforce. That’s great news for our students.”

According to a Texas Economic Development Corporation 2017 Texas aerospace, aviation and defense report, Texas ranks number one in the United States in air transportation employment, directly employing more than 135,000 workers.

Texas is home to the headquarters of two international airlines: American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and two of the world’s busiest airports George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

The Rio Grande Valley, however, has not been left out and is seeing growth in the aviation industry with the introduction and return of new and existing airlines such as Frontier and American Airlines, respectively.

Jose Mulet, the director of Air Service and Business Development at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, said that with the expansion of airlines in our region there is the possibility that there will also be a growth in fixed-based operators in the area.TSTC Aircraft Maintenance

“There will always be a need for aircraft airframe and powerplant mechanics,” said Mulet. “When we see a growth in airlines and airplanes, we’ll also see a growth in contracts for repair and maintenance.”

Mulet also added that larger cities like San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are major hubs for fixed-based operators (FBO), organizations that provide aeronautical services such as maintenance and fueling; and aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations, an essential requirement to ensure that aircraft are maintained in conditions of air-worthiness for the safety of passengers.

The Rio Grande Valley has a total of five FBOs: Sun Valley Aviation and Gulf Aviation in Harlingen, Hunt Pan Am Aviation and Southmost Aviation in Brownsville, McCreery Aviation in McAllen, which have in the past or recently hired TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe and Aircraft Powerplant graduates.

One of TSTC’s most recent Aircraft Airframe and Aircraft Powerplant graduates Saul Pena, who is now an airframe and powerplant mechanic at Hunt Pan Am Aviation, said in a recent interview that he is happy to have received this opportunity while staying close to home.

“I received this job offer a little after I graduated and it was a relief knowing I was beginning my career,” said Pena. “TSTC treated me really well and I received an in-depth look into the field and hands-on training that helped lay my foundation to hit the ground running when I entered the workforce.”

Aircraft Airframe and Powerplant graduates, like Pena, receive training in airframe auxiliary and electrical systems; landing gear systems; hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel systems; aircraft engines; propellers and turbine engine overhauls.

Both programs also prepare students to pass their Federal Aviation Administration exam to obtain airframe and powerplant licenses needed to work in the industry.

Cross said that in addition to getting careers in the aviation industry, a number of students go on to obtain successful careers in aerospace.

According to the same Texas Economic Development Corporation report, the state is also seeing significant growth in the aerospace industry with 17 of the 20 largest aerospace manufacturers in the world with operations in Texas.

In fact, Harlingen and McAllen, according to the Texas Economic Development Corporation, support manufacturing facilities for various Fortune 500 aerospace companies such as United Launch Alliance and GE Aviation, and most recently SpaceX in Brownsville.

“We’ve been in contact with SpaceX representatives who are interested in hiring our students,” said Cross. “While many have already started careers in aerospace locally and statewide. The number of opportunities available to our grads is limitless and our job is to ensure they are job-ready.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a five percent employment growth and job opportunities are expected to be good because workers retiring from the occupation will need to be replaced.

They also project, on average, an aircraft mechanic and technician will make between $20-30 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year.

For more information on TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe Technology or on TSTC’s Aircraft Powerplant Technology, both also offered at TSTC’s Abilene and Waco campuses, visit tstc.edu.

Registration for Fall 2019 is underway. The last day to register is August 23.

TSTC students head to Kentucky for SkillsUSA national competition

(HARLINGEN) – Blueprint reading, coding and design is what Texas State Technical College students Eduardo Ortiz and Gabriel Flores have been focused on in preparation for the upcoming SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

TSTC PMT Gabriel Flores (right) & Eduardo Ortiz (left)

Both TSTC Precision Machining Technology students and SkillsUSA competitors will be traveling this weekend to Louisville, Kentucky after earning their spot at nationals with gold medals during the SkillsUSA state competition hosted earlier this year at TSTC’s Waco campus.

“I’m going into this with a first place mindset,” said Ortiz, who’s competing in Automated Manufacturing Technology. “You’re never fully ready, but we’re confident we’ve prepared enough and we’re ready to be challenged.”

Ortiz is part of a three-person team and has been working with his peers Carlos Davila and Noah McCoy to prepare for this competition by studying past competition blueprints, recreating designs, reviewing numerical control programming codes and simulations.

It was only three years ago when Ortiz was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. He said he could have never imagined being able to take advantage of this kind of opportunity after two broken legs, fractures on his arm and ribs and partial paralysis.

Just like Ortiz pushed himself through recovery, he has pushed himself to succeed. His work has paid off. At state competition, Ortiz was also elected a SkillsUSA delegate representing Texas.

“I’m looking forward to everything this conference has to offer in addition to competing,” he said. “I’m excited to network with industry professionals and learn from other students like myself. This is going to be a great experience and I hope to represent TSTC to the best of my ability.”

And like with many competitors who have a competitive edge, gold is the goal.

For Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics student Jonathan Collins, he thrives in a competitive field and has been working with his advisor and instructor Mark Rosas non-stop since finding out he was traveling to Louisville.

He has been reviewing interior and exterior residential floor plans and all of the basics of architectural design and drafting to prepare 

for his upcoming eight hour test at SkillsUSA.

“Sure, the unexpected in the competition can be nerve-wracking, but SkillsUSA has helped me grow as a drafter, exposed me to industry professionals and like-minded people,” said Collins. “And I’m excited to see how I rank in a national setting.”

TSTC ADEG Jonathan Collins

He added that win or lose, he feels he has gained a lot by participating in SkillsUSA and credits his experience and instructors for his success and recent job offer.

Collins has already accepted an offer and started as a drafter for an architectural and project management company in McAllen. He is expected to graduate from TSTC in August.

TSTC Precision Machining Technology instructor and SkillsUSA Campus Coordinator Isaac Gonzalez said that he hopes every TSTC student going to Kentucky shows their professionalism, represents TSTC and their instructors well and gives it their all.

“Everyone is competing for that top position, but it’s no different than when a graduate is looking for a job,” said Gonzalez. “So our students need to go out there with their heads held high and know that win or lose they’ve already proved to be the best in Texas.”

Students in SkillsUSA participate in hands-on competitions in various fields such as science; technology; engineering; mathematics; building construction; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

TSTC is sending a total of 63 students, statewide, to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

The deadline to register for Fall 2019 is August 23.

TSTC Alumnus Invents Portable Workstation

(WACO, Texas) – Bobby Martin’s work as an oil field service controls technician was the inspiration for a magnetic portable workstation he invented.

Martin, a 1990 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College), received a patent in September 2018 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for The OmniShelf.

Martin’s invention, which measures about 17 by 15 by 3 inches when closed, uses industrial-strength magnets or suction cups to adhere to many metal or smooth vertical surfaces, leaving the user’s hands free. Once securely in place, The OmniShelf can support up to 30 pounds.

“I work all over the (oil) rig and needed something that was portable, and I thought I could make one that was magnetic. And, that is how it came about,” Martin said. “It took about three years to get it finished, going from the first prototype to what it is now.”

Some of the components Martin considered in the development process were the texture, strength of the plastic and how to make it work with hinges.

“We have some tweaks that are going to be made, but right now we have been selling it a little over a year,” Martin said. “It is just taking off on its own.”

Injection molding for the product is done in Kennedale, and assembly, packaging and storage is done in McGregor.

“When he decided to do this, I was behind him 100 percent,” said Martin’s wife, Mindy. “I’m very impressed with him finding the right people he found on his own as far as the molding company, the people in McGregor.”

Martin graduated in 1988 from China Spring High School.

“I didn’t even take a summer break,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when I decided I wanted to get into computers.”

Martin received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Maintenance Technology in 1990. After graduation, he worked in missile systems testing, troubleshooting and computer chip equipment maintenance at Texas Instruments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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


Three TSTC Building Construction Technology Scholarships Awarded

(WACO, Texas) – Two future Texas State Technical College students and one current TSTC student were recently awarded Building Construction Technology scholarships.

Recent Belton High School graduates Jose Delgado and Isaac Collazo Garcia each received $6,000 SkillsUSA scholarships to attend TSTC. Both students plan to major in Building Construction Technology this fall.

Delgado said he was inspired to go to college by Craig Sullivan, his high school construction technology teacher, and his involvement in SkillsUSA, which is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

Delgado said he wants to learn everything he can while at TSTC.

Collazo Garcia said the college’s state and national reputation impressed him. Several Belton alumni have gone on to graduate from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.

“I’m excited to learn new things and have new opportunities coming here,” he said.

The Building Construction Technology program also awarded a $200 Brazos Valley Woodturners scholarship to Amber Voss of Axtell. She is pursuing certificates in Energy Efficiency Specialist and Electrical Construction, along with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology.

“It (the scholarship) will definitely help because I quit my full-time job to go to school,” Voss said. “My husband is the main provider while I live out my dream.”

Chris Porter, lead instructor  in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, said the Brazos Valley Woodturners meet monthly on campus.

“Once a year they give money for scholarships,” Porter said. “It’s great because it helps the students out tremendously.”

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

For more information on Brazos Valley Woodturners, go to bvwt.org.

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

TSTC Graduate Upholds Mission to Serve and Protect

(WACO, Texas) – Henry Herring of Temple has gone from serving and defending our country to protecting technology networks throughout Texas.

Herring, a 2018 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security and Digital Forensics Specialist programs in Waco, is director of security operations at Sentinel Cyber Intelligence in downtown Waco.

“This is not just a job,” Herring said. “This is a lifestyle and something you need to have a passion for.”

Sentinel Cyber Intelligence was founded in 2015 and specializes in digital forensics, cyber security and private investigations. Most of its clients are city and county governments and school districts throughout the state.

“The more technology develops, the more we are going to have our hands in it,” Herring said. “There will always be someone out there who needs protection.”

Herring spent more than 15 years in the U.S. Army working with tactical communications.

“Back then, we had some low-tech and high-tech stuff,” he said. “We had AM radios we had to transmit with.”

Jonathan Owens, a TSTC Cyber Security instructor, encouraged Herring to consider Sentinel for professional experience.

“He was a great student and is a wonderful person who strives to excel at each task and create relations with each person he meets,” Owens said. “He continues to challenge himself, and he now shows his TSTC spirit by helping TSTC students get local internships at Sentinel Cyber Intelligence.”

The business usually has five TSTC interns at a time working around their class schedules.

“We try to find interns with longevity,” Herring said. “We like them to have at least a year to train them. Here, this is not textbook because these are live clients. We do a lot of research on the stuff that is coming through and the latest threats.”

Owens said he welcomes opportunities for high-achieving students to work at Sentinel.

“It is always a great thing to receive an email from Richard Martin (a Sentinel co-managing partner) or Henry asking for new interns,” Owens said. “Richard and Henry provide inspiration and direction to each intern, building on the foundation that TSTC provides.”

Michael Mata, a Cyber Security major from Waco, is currently a Sentinel intern.

“They have taught me a lot of different software and programs,” Mata said. “They have shown me how to use open-source services. I feel security is at the top of people’s minds. We have to know our job and how people can exploit the systems. Malicious hackers are becoming more common.”

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


TSTC, High Schools Prepare for SkillsUSA National Conference

(WACO, Texas) – Some high school students from Central and Southeast Texas spent Thursday and Friday at Texas State Technical College, where they worked with TSTC students to perfect their hands-on skills in preparation for a national contest.

The students from Belton High School and the Pasadena Independent School District’s Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Technical High School in Houston, along with participating TSTC students, are gearing up to compete in the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference on June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The students won the right to compete nationally after winning gold medals at their respective  state-level contests earlier this spring.

Belton High School sent its four-person TeamWorks group to work alongside TSTC’s TeamWorks group in building mock structures with plumbing fixtures, electrical components, masonry and a mini-roof.

The electrician for TSTC’s TeamWorks group, Leonardo Mata of Fort Worth, said an added challenge to the two days was working with an alternate because a team member was unable to make the practices.

“It kind of made us see our differences, and we knew where to fill in the gaps,” Mata said.

This will be Mata’s first trip to the national competition. He said he looks forward to representing TSTC and showing others how talented the students are.

Students from TSTC and the Houston school also did a mock contest in preparation for SkillsUSA’s Carpentry competition.

On another part of campus, students from TSTC and the Houston school worked on their techniques to prepare for the Collision Repair Technology contest.

Alfredo Rodriguez, a senior at the Houston school, said he enjoyed using equipment he had not worked with before. One of the skills he learned from TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology faculty was nitrogen plastic welding.

Rodriguez said he hopes the knowledge he learned will give him an advantage over other students at the national conference.

“It should be an experience,” he said.

For more on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

TSTC Profile of Excellence – John Moody

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – John MoodyJohn Moody is an Automotive Technology graduate from Texas State Technical College. He earned his associate degree in 2012 and since then has had a successful career in industry.

The 37-year-old, San Benito native, said vehicle maintenance and repairs has been his life. As a child he would assist his late father at his automotive shop and knew it was a career he wanted to pursue.

Moody currently works with Tesla as a mobile technician traveling much of the state.

What was your reaction when you first learned about your job offer?

Before Tesla I worked for nearly seven years with Gillman Honda in San Benito. That was my first job out of college and I was relieved and excited to begin my career. Although I had automotive experience, without a formal education or degree it was impossible to get hired. After graduating it didn’t take me long to find a job and it’s only getting better. Recently I received a great opportunity from Tesla and made the switch.

How did TSTC prepare you for your career?

While the hands-on training was invaluable and I learned so many new techniques and processes, what really helped prepare me for my career were my instructors and their genuine care for our success. They always ensured one-on-one time with us to fully explain lessons and to be certain that we understood. Their experience and their sharing made all of the difference for me.

What has had the greatest influence on your success?

My wife and my family have been my greatest influence. They have supported me every step of the way. Everything I do is for them. To give them a better life and make sure they always have the best, which is what they deserve.

What are your future goals?

My goal is to grow within Tesla and eventually become a manager. The company has many growth opportunities and I hope to gain the experience I need to keep moving up. Also, someday, I would love it if I could follow in my father’s footsteps and open an automotive shop of my own and keep with my father’s legacy.

What would you tell a student thinking of pursuing a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree?

I would tell a student that a two-year degree offers great opportunity and advancement. It’s affordable and a quicker way of entering the workforce and earning, especially for someone like me who had a family to support. I always knew a two-year degree was a perfect match for me.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I’m not going to lie; getting an education is tough. It’s hard work, but it’s possible. You have to stick with your goals and continue pushing forward. There’s a finish line, I promise, even you can’t see it.