Author Archives: Daniel Perry

New Members of TSTC Board of Regents Sworn In

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College recently celebrated the installation of three new members of the Board of Regents.

A special meeting was held Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the John B. Connally Technology Center on the Waco campus and included a meal prepared by the TSTC Culinary Arts program.

Tony Abad and Curtis Cleveland, both of Waco, and Alejandro G. Meade III of Mission were sworn in for six-year terms by 19th State District Court Judge Ralph Strother. They were recently appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abad is a mechanical design engineer at SyberJet Aircraft. He is a past board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McLennan County and past president of the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County, Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association and the Waco Sunrise Rotary.

Abad has an associate degree in drafting and design from TSTC in Harlingen.

Curtis Cleveland is vice president at Central Texas Iron Works Inc. in Waco. He is a member of the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy Executive Committee, the Extraco Bank Advisory Board of Directors, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors and other organizations.

Cleveland has been a member of The TSTC Foundation Board of Directors since 2002.

Cleveland has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Tech University.

Meade is chief executive officer of the Mission Economic Development Corporation in the Rio Grande Valley. He is a member of the Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation. He is also a nationally certified public manager and certified economic development finance professional.

Meade has a bachelor of business administration degree in economics from St. Edward’s University. He also has a master of business administration degree from The University of Texas at Brownsville and a master of public administration degree from The University of Texas Pan American. UTB and UTPA have since combined to form The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.

Texas Rep. Kyle Kacal presented Board Chairman Keith Honey with a gavel for his service to the technical college and to commemorate TSTC Day at the Capitol held in the spring. The gavel was used to bring the state House of Representatives to order.

“TSTC is one of the most incredible educational opportunities for the youth of Texas,” said Kacal, a Brazos Valley legislator who represents a portion of McLennan County and attended the event.

Leaving the board are Penny Forrest of Waco, who served from 2009 to 2017; James Virgil Martin of Sweetwater, who served from 2004 to 2017; and Linda McKenna of Harlingen, who served from 2009 to 2017.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Student Q&A with Luke Mawhirter of Woodway

(WACO) – Luke Mawhirter, 22, of Woodway is a Visual Communication Technology major at Texas State Technical College who is scheduled to graduate in spring 2018.

Mawhirter graduated in 2014 from Robinson High School, where he was active in theater and the National Honor Society.

Have you always been interested in the arts? “Ever since I was a kid, I have liked to draw. Art has always been part of my life. When we got Photoshop, I started playing with it in fifth grade. It’s always been pretty natural. Technology has come easy to me. I have always enjoyed working with computers. The technology helps when doing visual arts.”

How did you enjoy growing up in the Waco area? “I have always loved Waco. My mother will say it’s small but not too small and big but not too big. There is so much attention on Waco. It’s always been a friendly place. It’s been cool to see the re-emergence of Waco.”

How did you become interested in TSTC? “I had heard about TSTC in high school. It was a known thing that it was here. I had friends that were taking classes there. What drew me to it was its simplicity. It’s so straightforward.”

Do you work on campus? “I am a work-study student. Sometimes, I help with business cards and talk about designs with the Creative Services staff. I do a lot of folding and organizing. I like to see it as a study thing. I have learned how to work a lot of the machinery. I was able to use this as my internship class. It’s been incredibly valuable.”

What is your career goal after graduation? “My main goal is to be an in-house graphics director.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “Don’t limit yourself. Explore every option that is available to you. Know your value and worth and pursue those things about you.”

Graphic design jobs are expected to rise to 278,800 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas currently has more than 12,000 graphic design jobs, with more than 100 of those in the Waco area. The annual mean wage in Texas for graphic designers is $48,360, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC in Waco to Host Registration Rally on Nov. 17

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College will have a Registration Rally for the spring semester from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Student Services Center on Campus Drive.

The event is part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students.

“The Registration Rally is a great opportunity for students to get all of their paperwork complete in one place before classes begin in January,” TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison said. “We’re setting aside some of the routine business of the day to concentrate our efforts on helping new students enroll more quickly and easily.”

Visitors can take campus tours and talk to faculty members about the more than 40 technical programs offered at TSTC, including Aircraft Airframe Technician, Avionics, Cloud and Data Center Management, Radiation Protection Technology and Web Design and Development.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination, housing application and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this fall. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to


TSTC Hosts First American Female Space Shuttle Commander

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Aerospace Division recently hosted America’s first female space shuttle commander for a talk to students and faculty members.

Col. Eileen Collins was commander in 1999 on the Columbia space shuttle mission that deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. She also commanded NASA’s 2005 Discovery mission.

“When NASA wanted someone who was cool under pressure, they chose her to command the return to flight mission after the Columbia space shuttle disaster (in 2003),” said Carson Pearce, TSTC’s statewide Transportation Division director. “This kind of insight and perspective gives TSTC students an anchor from which they can realize that someone has dreamed big, achieved that dream, and it motivates our students to do the same.”

Collins shared some facts with the students about space travel, including that space shuttles were about 200 miles above the Earth during missions and the International Space Station is solar powered.

Collins told attendees to focus on the missions they are doing, from completing class assignments to helping expand space travel.

“We need a revolutionary change in how we think about space travel,” she said. “You need to use your imagination, thinking of creative ways to do different things. You should be proud of your accomplishments.”

Collins grew up in New York and received degrees from Corning Community College, Syracuse University, Stanford University and Webster University. She is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Collins also helped present student awards.

“We have never ceased to be amazed at how our students react to having a real live American hero hand them their hard-earned awards,” said Pearce.

Receiving awards were:

Air Traffic Controller Top Mic Award: Kha Pham

Avionics Technology: Thomas Fletcher

Aircraft Pilot Training Technology Top Gun Award: Stephanie Hughes

Aircraft Dispatch Technology: Eric Neuendorf

Aviation Maintenance Technology Top Wrench Award: Cole Nolin

Student of the Year for Aerospace: Shane Howard

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Student Q&A with Tucker Neal of Jarrell

(WACO) –Tucker Neal, 18, of Jarrell is a first-semester Computer Networking and Systems Administration major at Texas State Technical College.

He is a 2017 graduate of Jarrell High School, where he played multiple sports and was vice president of the high school chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

What factored into choosing your major? “My stepdad is a computer network administrator so I learned about computers from him. When I was 8, I built my own computer. I still use it today. Growing up, I did a lot of research on computers and how they worked. I took one computer class in seventh grade, and in eighth grade I was the teacher’s assistant for that class.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I had to do a bunch of projects in high school. The teachers asked us what we would do after high school,l and I researched colleges around here and found TSTC.”

Do you work on campus? “I work at the library. I’ll come to work at 2 p.m. and leave at 6 p.m. on my work days and make sure the computers are reset. I’ll monitor computers, making sure nobody is doing what they are not supposed to. I also help students in the lab. I started working in the library in October.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “I would say to make sure you know what to do before you go to college.”

Network and computer systems administrator jobs are expected to grow to more than 415,000 nationwide by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were more than 32,000 network and computer administrators in Texas in 2016, according to the federal labor statistics bureau. Of these, more than 200 were in Waco and more than 4,000 were in the Austin – Round Rock area. The annual mean wage in Texas was $87,790.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Earns Medals at Aviation Competition

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s flight team finished a challenging week at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region 4 SAFECON held Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 at the TSTC Waco Airport.

“When a college has a flight team, it is made of their best students,” said Carson Pearce, TSTC’s statewide director of the Transportation Division.

Bobby Musacchio, 19, a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Technology major from Ponder scheduled to graduate with an associate degree in summer 2018, competed in his first SAFECON. He placed in the top 10 in Aircraft Recognition.

“It’s been a good experience,” Musacchio said. “I’ve been learning new things. I’ve been able to connect with students from other schools. It’s made me want to improve my skills and get me focused on what I need to do.”

He said his favorite event was Aircraft Recognition, which involved looking at photographs of parts of all kinds of airplanes. Musacchio said he and his teammates prepared for the contest by taking practice tests and in-depth studying of the shapes and features of aircrafts.

After graduating from TSTC, Musacchio said he wants to become a flight instructor and hopes to fly for commercial airlines.

TSTC students placing in the top five of individual events and receiving medals were:

Aircraft Preflight Inspection: Mallory Frister, fifth place.

Navigation: Caleb Gober and J.C. Horne, fifth place.

Short Field Landing: Stephanie Hughes, fifth place.

Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation: Richard Rensing, fifth place.

TSTC finished third in the Ground Events Championship.

Other schools that competed were Central Texas College, Delta State University, LeTourneau University and Louisiana Tech University.

Delta State University won the Competition Safety Award and Red Baron Team Sportsmanship Award.

LeTourneau University won the competition, with Delta State University placing second and Central Texas College finishing third. These teams will go to the 2018 SAFECON in the spring in Indiana.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Student Q&A with Jessica Ogden of Hico

(WACO) – Jessica Ogden, 20, of Hico is an Aircraft Pilot Training major at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

She is captain of the technical college’s Tornadoes Flight Team, which recently competed in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region 4 SAFECON contest hosted in Waco. She was a member of TSTC’s all-women Air Race Classic team that competed nationwide in 2016. Ogden is scheduled to graduate in December with an associate degree.

She graduated in 2015 from Hico High School.

How did you become interested in aviation? “My grandfather had a family friend who was a pilot in the Korean War. He had a Cessna and took me for a ride in it when I was 6. From then on I knew I wanted to be in aviation.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I came here with a friend as he was visiting the Diesel Equipment Technology program. That is when I found out about the aviation programs and I saw the building (the Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center). I am the first in my family to study aviation.”

What is something you have learned along the way that would be good for high school students to know? “You need to be confident. The moment you are not confident in your abilities, that’s the moment you fail.”

What are your plans after graduating from TSTC? “I have interviewed with TSTC and hope to be a flight instructor. I’ll also work on more flight ratings through the technical college and get my bachelor’s degree.”

There were more than 39,000 female pilots in the United States as of December 2016, according to Federal Aviation Administration data cited by Women in Aviation International.

Texas State Technical College offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Pilot Training and Aircraft Pilot Training – Helicopter Specialization. There is also an option to earn a Certificate in Aircraft Pilot Technology Commercial Pilot – Helicopter.

For more information on TSTC, go to


TSTC Honors Former Texas Representative with Building Dedication

(RED OAK) – The work that James R. “Jim” Pitts did while a member of the Texas House of Representatives is solidified for future students that walk through the building now bearing his name at Texas State Technical College in North Texas.

The Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center was formally dedicated Thursday morning at a plaque unveiling ceremony attended by Waxahachie and Ellis County leaders along with TSTC administrators and staff members.

Pitts said he appreciated the honor and that TSTC in North Texas is in a great location in proximity to the Dallas – Fort Worth area.

“I’m thrilled to see something you dreamed about become a reality,” Pitts said.

Pitts was a Republican member of the state House of Representatives representing House District 10 from 1993 to 2015 and was chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. He was named one of the state’s 10 Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

“I miss the legislature and I miss doing good things for Ellis County,” Pitts said.

TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser said he first met Pitts during the 2013 Texas legislative session. Pitts told him he had a goal of bringing technical education to the county’s residents to become contributing members of the workforce.

During the session, Pitts introduced legislation that was sponsored by Sen. Brian Birdwell authorizing the creation of a TSTC extension center in Ellis County. The extension center evolved in less than a year into today’s stand-alone campus. After a land deal with the Red Oak Independent School District, the building on North Lowrance Road formally opened in October 2014 and now houses the technical college’s 10 programs.

“He is your neighbor,” Reeser told ceremony attendees. “You had a guy who went to Austin and fought for your best interests in Ellis County.”

Pitts is a former member of the Waxahachie Independent School District Board of Trustees. He is an attorney and owner of Ellis County Abstract and Title Company in Waxahachie.

After the ceremony, The TSTC Foundation hosted a luncheon and visitors took building tours.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Q&A with Jennifer Dickman of China Spring

(WACO) – Jennifer Dickman, 24, of China Spring is an Avionics Technology major at Texas State Technical College.

She enrolled at TSTC in January and is scheduled to graduate in summer 2018 with an associate degree.

Dickman grew up in Newburgh, New York and graduated in 2011 from Newburgh Free Academy. She spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

How did you become interested in the military? “I always admired a person in uniform. Growing up, I was drawn to military members.”

What was your job in the Marine Corps? “I was an aviation electrician for F18s. It was something I got put into. I worked on the flight line, where I did troubleshooting and a lot of harnessing. I would also check the aircraft before taking off.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I recently moved to China Spring because my husband is in the Marine Corps as a recruiter in Hewitt. I was in a slump and I wrote on a veterans help page on Facebook. A Navy veteran messaged me and said with my background and being a woman and a minority that I should get my education. She looked up colleges in the area and told me about TSTC and the Avionics Technology program. I am using the GI Bill to go to college.”

How do you like studying Avionics Technology? “A lot of what I have noticed is component-based. It’s more in-depth learning here. If I didn’t do an electronics field in the Marine Corps, I would have had trouble having a technical mind. It would have been a cultural shock.”

Do you work on campus? “I am a work-study in the Veteran Center in the Student Services Center. I get to work with veterans and have a commonality that a lot of people don’t get to share.”

What advice would you give to women thinking of studying in a technology field? “Reach out to people currently in the field. It’s something doable and something to learn. It’s something that changes all the time and it’s a great chance for a career.”

The number of avionics technicians is expected to grow nationally to 17,500 jobs through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas had 1,890 avionics technicians as of May 2016 with an average mean wage of $57,800. Avionics jobs in Texas are centered in the Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Computer Students Break Gender Barriers

(WACO) – Emily Hunter and Liz Upshaw took different routes toward the technology degrees they are pursuing at Texas State Technical College.

And both said if they had more encouragement when they were younger, they would have pursued their aspirations earlier.

Hunter, 41, of Waco is a dual Cloud and Data Center Management and Cyber Security major scheduled to graduate from TSTC in 2018. She has already been working with cloud management as an administrative assistant at Fuzzy Friends Rescue in Waco.

“What I’m doing now is really fun,” Hunter said. “I’ve had some jobs that have been boring.”

Upshaw, 41, of Waco is a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major scheduled to graduate from TSTC in 2018.

“I’ve always been interested in technology,” Upshaw said. “I’ve fixed VCRs, stack players. Growing up, I was constantly with my father and his brothers and cousins with tools and fixing things.”

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women nationwide earn only 18 percent of computer and information science degrees.

Carol Scheler teaches Cyber Security and Digital Forensics and has been at TSTC in Waco for 19 years. She is also a TSTC alumna with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. She said while in college she recognized there were few female instructors and students.

“I knew coming in it was male-dominated, but I wanted to go to school and get the skills and get a job,” Scheler said.

Scheler said she became interested in technology while taking a computer class in high school.

“I learned I had a natural knack for it,” she said.

Both Hunter and Upshaw came to TSTC with prior college experience but armed with vastly different degrees.

Hunter said she grew up being encouraged to read and play mathematics games. After graduating from high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eurasian Studies from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She thought about going an academic route into a career but decided not to pursue that.

Upshaw studied physical education at the University of Mary Hardin – Baylor in Belton, where she also played basketball with a dream of being a coach.

Upshaw said she decided to go back to college to further her learning of technology. She said she learns best with hands-on work and has been more focused with her studies.

“It was an eye-opener for me and made me realize I didn’t know as much as I thought,” she said.

Upshaw said after graduation she wants to work and pursue a Computer Maintenance Technology degree from TSTC. But, she said what would fulfill her more is opening a business to fix, sell and teach people how to use computers at an affordable cost.

“A lot of it is getting your foot in the door,” Upshaw said.

Texas had more than 350,000 computer and mathematical occupations as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the jobs included computer network architects, computer user support specialists and database administrators. In Waco, there were more than 1,800 jobs with an average mean wage of $68,380 as of May 2016.

Hunter said motivating more females to pursue technology careers and take more mathematics classes should start as early as preschool.

“I think there is a cultural thing in general,” Hunter said. “If you are a girl and your phone breaks, you take it to the store to get fixed. Girls are not encouraged to take things apart and see how it works.”

Scheler said she has noticed more females, especially nontraditional ones, taking computer classes at TSTC.

“The stereotype is being broken down,” she said. “Women are being encouraged to go into the technology fields.”

TSTC will have Women in Technology Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. The day will expose about 300 area high school female students to science and technology fields with demonstrations and tours. There will also be a professional panel discussion.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to