Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Wind Energy Technology Program Contributing to Area Economy

(SWEETWATER) — A summer breeze floating through Texas brings a moment of relief for some residents, but thousands of Texans are taking advantage of each gust as a clean energy source.

Texas State Technical College and Nolan County are working together to lead the charge in the nation’s number one renewable energy source: wind energy.

“In Nolan County alone we’ve seen more than 250 jobs emerge because of wind energy,” said Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Economic Development. “Whether it’s maintenance, manufacturing or installation there’s an opportunity in multiple fields and that’s feeding back into the community.”

With no intention of slowing down, the industry is clamoring for more and more people.

“Wind energy is growing,” said Billie Jones, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology instructor. “It’s a renewable energy source, so it’s it going to be here when we run out of other fuel sources which means there is definitely job security.”

Locally, wind energy helps rural communities like Sweetwater with new sources of income and tax revenue. Globally, it provides an opportunity for the more adventurous to travel and work in various locations.

“I accepted a job with KBA and after I graduate in December they will be flying me to Germany for a year of training,” said Kaitlin Sullivan, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology student. “I’m so excited because I get to travel but also because my job options are pretty much limitless in this industry.”

Sullivan grew up watching wind turbines pop up in her hometown of Dumas, but assures that the industry is accepting of anyone willing to learn and interested in clean energy.

“I had already earned a bachelor’s degree in English but couldn’t find a job I liked, so I went back to school at TSTC and found my calling,” said Sullivan.

The wind energy industry has evolved from many field technicians learning as they worked to having specific industry standards, training and certification requirements for all wind turbine technicians.

“Back in 2007 when I entered the wind industry there were no wind turbine training programs and very few experienced wind turbine technicians,” said Tony Robinette, field operations and recruiting manager at SystemOne, which has locations in Amarillo, Dallas and Houston. “Now, training programs like TSTC have created clear paths for entry into the wind industry to meet the rising demand and create more opportunities for wind technicians.”

As global populations grow, so does the demand for energy.

“This industry is here to stay,” Becker said. “We use energy everyday and we need to pursue something sustainable like wind energy because it is renewable and it gives back in a positive way to the surrounding communities.”

TSTC offers the Wind Energy Technician certificate and the Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology.

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

TSTC Student Receives Nationwide Aviation Scholarship

(WACO) – James Floyd is soaring not only in his studies at Texas State Technical College, but also in receiving a financial boost.

Floyd was one of two college students nationwide to recently receive a $2,000 scholarship from Mesa Airlines and the international coed aviation fraternity Alpha Eta Rho.

“It will help with supplies, books and tuition,” said Floyd, 32. “I am blessed. I’ve worked hard. This will be my 11th semester at TSTC.”

Floyd is president of the Alpha Eta Rho’s Alpha Pi Chapter based at TSTC.

“People want to naturally follow him,” said Robert Capps, a TSTC aviation maintenance instructor. “He was always a cool head.”

Floyd is scheduled to graduate in 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Avionics Technology. This will be his fourth associate degree from TSTC.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge to work on any part of the aircraft,” said Floyd.

Floyd grew up in Round Rock and graduated from homeschooling in 2003.

He was in the U.S. Air Force from 2004 to 2010 and left the service as a senior airman. He did three deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq and a support deployment to the United Arab Emirates.

“I wanted to serve my country to do my part to ensure our U.S. Constitution is upheld,” said Floyd.

After the military, he worked for an armored courier service but realized he needed other skills to  ensure his success.

In 2014, he enrolled at TSTC in Williamson County and graduated two years later with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology.

“TSTC in general came highly recommended from my parents, friends and elders,” Floyd said. “I wanted a trade I could fall back on.”

He said he enjoyed precision tungsten inert gas, or TIG, welding and learn it can be used in the aviation field. In fall 2016, he transferred to TSTC in Waco and began studying aviation maintenance.

Floyd finished associate degrees in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology earlier this year.

“You need the A&P (airframe and powerplant) before you touch an aircraft,” he said. “I think I adapted pretty quickly, especially to the airframe side. I had worked with metal before when I was in welding.”

Martin Seagraves, the lead instructor in TSTC’s Avionics Technology department, said graduates having the Aircraft Airframe Technology, Aircraft Powerplant Technology and Avionics Technology degrees means they can fix anything on an aircraft.

“These graduates are in very high demand,” said Seagraves. “Employers come find them.”

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

Registration for fall classes is ongoing through the end of the month.

Student to Graduate from High School and TSTC Simultaneously

(WACO) — How do you get ahead of the competition?

According to Texas State Technical College student Josie Price, it is by graduating high school a month before graduating college at 18 years old.  

Price, of Mt. Calm,  is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication Technology at TSTC’s Summer 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Waco Convention Center.

Just a month ago, she earned her high school diploma through homeschooling. Price credited her nearly simultaneous graduations to dual credit hours at TSTC and the flexibility offered with homeschooling.

“TSTC was phenomenal in allowing me to get everything done quickly but thoroughly,” Price said. “It really allowed me to get more accomplished to be ahead in life and stay ahead.”

On top of her studies, Price balances working at an antique shop, an internship and serving as a writer and member of the board for a startup website, Temple of Geek.

“I just can’t stand to be still,” Price said. “I’ve learned so many things from each job that are molding me into a better professional and allowing me to pursue my passions.”

Price’s dedication and ambition resonate with her instructors and even surprises them when they learn of her age.

“If she hadn’t told me she was high school school student I wouldn’t have known,” said Stacie Buterbaugh, a TSTC Visual Communication Technology instructor. “She’s so mature, confident and talented. She’s such a great communicator and a real motivated self learner.”

According to the Texas Home School Coalition, it is not uncommon for homeschoolers to graduate early or even obtain a college degree at younger ages.

“If I have learned anything, it’s that hard work trumps talent every time. You are competing against yourself and only if you push yourself to be better will you succeed,” Price said.

For more information about TSTC, log onto tstc.edu.

TSTC Student Carries on Family Tradition

(WACO) – Fear of heights may be one of the most common phobias, but for Texas State Technical College student Logan Godino, being up high has become his second home.

Godino, from Canadian in the Texas Panhandle,  is a candidate for graduation for an Electrical Lineworker Technology certificate at TSTC. He is scheduled to graduate at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Waco Convention Center.

Godino, 19, currently works part-time at North Plains Electric Cooperative in Canadian with his father. After graduation, Godino will move to the office in Perryton as an apprentice lineman.

“I’ve been practicing climbing power poles since I was a teenager,” Godino said. “We had one in the backyard and my dad has been in this industry for 25 years, so I’ve been interested in this for years and the people in it are like family.”

While Godino has always known that he wanted to be a lineman, his first week at school was different than most.

“Hurricane Harvey hit and they needed guys who could help get the power back on,” Godino said. “So I asked my instructor if I could skip the first week of class to go down and help, and he said sure.”

TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology Instructor Bobby Mitchell was very pleased knowing Godino would be in the field helping others and saw it as a perfect learning opportunity.

“I knew he wouldn’t miss anything he couldn’t make up, so I was okay with it and I was proud of him,” Mitchell said. “I learned he’s just that kind of guy that works and helps others when he can, whether its those in need or assisting the other students.”

NPEC is ready to welcome Godino as a full-time employee and looks forward to seeing him growing with the company.

We love Logan, he has been one of ours his whole life,” said Jennifer Roberts, manager of finance and benefits administration at NPEC.

For more information about Texas State Technical College, log onto tstc.edu.

TSTC EMS Student Sets a High Bar

(BROWNWOOD) – Christopher Michael of Comanche worked jobs as a bartender and band tour manager after high school, but he knew he wanted to do more with his life.

The job he had as a volunteer firefighter lit the spark, which led to him to enroll at Texas State Technical College.

“I was looking for something more long-term and stable,” he said.

Michael is a candidate for graduation for the Certificate 2 – Emergency Medical Services Paramedic at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2018 Commencement on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Michael is already a graduate of TSTC, having finished his Certificate 1 – Emergency Medical Services EMT in 2017.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The instructors we have here have been helpful inside and outside the classroom. You spend so much time working together that it’s like a family.”

Stephanie Young, a TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor, said Michael set a standard of professionalism among his classmates.

“He is just a wonderful advocate for our program,” she said. “He’s never late, has a 4.0 grade point average, which is not easy in the medical field. He is outstanding in his clinicals. He really sets the standard.”

Michael, 36, currently works for Lifeguard Emergency Medical Services in Brownwood.

“We answer 911 calls in Brown County and take transfers across the state,” he said. “I can work on classwork between calls. I have to push through it. It’s a grueling schedule with school and clinicals.”

Michael’s clinical work was in Abilene and split between ambulance services and hospitals. He said he enjoyed being in the operating rooms the most, learning about anatomy and medical procedures.

“The students learn quality patient care and professionalism that really sets them apart from others,” Young said. “We teach in a flip classroom, which means it is all scenario-based education. It is real world, real-life scenarios from mock phone calls to action in the field. There is an extreme demand for paramedics, so much so that they are being offered hiring bonuses.”

Michael will be among the first Emergency Medical Services students attending classes in late August in the new Industrial Technology Center at TSTC in Abilene. The EMS program is relocating to the new building from the East Highway 80 campus in Abilene.

“Right now I am at another stepping stone to be a flight medic,” said Michael. “I could not have picked a better college.”

Michael is a 2000 graduate of Comanche High School.

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

 

TSTC and Evans Enterprises Inc. Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(WACO) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Evans Enterprises Inc., a company specializing in wind turbine repairs, gathered Monday to commemorate a $155,128 Skills Development Fund grant.

The grant will create or upgrade 78 industrial jobs at the company’s Abilene, Waco and Wichita Falls facilities.

“The mission of TSTC and the Texas Workforce Commission intersect at the most critical point – the employer,” said Adam Hutchison, TSTC provost. “By working together with Evans Enterprises Inc., we’re able to leverage our technical education expertise with TWC funds to train more workers, upgrade their skills and make Evans a better and more profitable company. This is how TSTC helps drive economic development in Texas.”

Jerry Boroff, a graduate of TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program and plant manager for Evans’ three sites in Texas, said workers have already learned about basic electrical theory and electrical safety. Evans employees from Abilene and Wichita Falls travel to the Waco facility for training.

“We get to educate the guys and they feel more comfortable in their jobs,” Boroff said.

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez III said TSTC’s work with the wind turbine industry signals the diversification of the state’s economy.

“You have customized training for industry need,” Alvarez said.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The fund has helped to create or upgrade more than 342,400 jobs in Texas. The fund has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide.

Evans Enterprises Inc. was founded in 1954 and has 10 plants in four states.

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

 

Longtime Friends Set to Graduate Together from TSTC

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College students Jacob Bledsoe and Joshua Johnson did not get along when they first met in fifth grade in Indiana.

A teacher eventually told them to make peace and try to be friends. They took the advice.

Bledsoe and Johnson, both 20, are candidates for graduation at TSTC’s Summer 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Waco Convention Center.

Bledsoe is scheduled to receive an Electrical Construction certificate, and Johnson is set to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology.

Today they are best friends, but their friendship took an unexpected turn when Johnson and his family left the Hoosier State and moved to Texas.

“We planned on high school graduation together, but that did not happen,” said Bledsoe.

Johnson said a teacher at his alma mater, Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth, encouraged him to attend TSTC. He was in the high school’s first graduating class in 2016.

“I came to visit (TSTC) in February of my senior year and liked it and applied,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe credits Johnson with influencing him to leave Indiana to attend TSTC. After graduating in 2016 from Southport High School in Indianapolis, Bledsoe worked at UPS and later as an electrician’s helper.

“He felt he could be doing more,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe applied to TSTC before he saw the campus for the first time in August 2017. Johnson, who had already been attending TSTC for two semesters, arranged for Bledsoe to room with him.  

“It’s a pretty big leap of faith and it worked out for (Bledsoe),” said Letha Novosad, lead instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program in Waco.

Bledsoe tends to be extroverted and Johnson is more introverted. Bledsoe said Johnson can make great tacos while Johnson said Bledsoe is good at grilling. The two have learned when to give each other space after classes or on challenging days.

The friends once lived about 20 minutes apart in Indianapolis. Besides going to school together, the two bonded over the Disney Club Penguin Island video game.

Bledsoe and Johnson visited each other’s house during the summer after fifth grade. Johnson said they spent days playing outside, riding in the Bledsoe family’s four-wheeler and visiting Kings Island amusement park in Ohio.

Although they did not have classes together in sixth grade, Bledsoe said there were a few minutes during school days when they would pass in the hallway and talk.

Johnson and his family left Indianapolis the summer after his sixth-grade year.

“We were definitely upset,” he said. “I was upset that I would lose my friends.”

The Johnson family lived in Houston for a few months before moving to Fort Worth. While in Houston, Johnson got his first Xbox and was able to communicate with Bledsoe through the video game system.

“We talked and texted every day too,” Johnson said.

Despite the distance between them, the two friends were able to see each other during their freshman and sophomore years of high school.

“It was kind of weird seeing each other at first,” Johnson said.

Bledsoe and Johnson became interested in their career fields when they were younger. Bledsoe grew up around the plumbing and carpentry fields while Johnson chose welding as a class in high school.

Bledsoe was a defensive end on the Southport Cardinals football team. Though Johnson never got to see him play, Bledsoe sent him video clips when he played his senior year in the Horseshoe Classic, a season-opening jamboree at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

While at TSTC, Bledsoe participated in SkillsUSA’s Electrical Construction category at the organization’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bledsoe and Johnson are considering job options in Indiana and Texas.

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

 

TSTC Employees, Students Raise Funds to Support Family in Need

(WACO) — Some 200 Texas State Technical College students, faculty and staff gathered recently at a cookout to raise money for Billy Anthony III, son of TSTC employees Cheryl and Tony Lloyd.

Anthony has battled multiple sclerosis for seven years, and the fundraiser raised more than $900 to help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with his illness.

“His diagnosis caught us so off guard. He was a healthy, happy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed young man,” Cheryl Lloyd said. “And even now when you see him, he is still so positive, and if he thinks something is wrong with you, he will ask if he can pray for you.”

Lloyd is a lab assistant for the TSTC Electrical Lineworker program. When students learned that her son was given a terminal diagnosis, they wanted to help. They reached out to Letha Novosad, lead instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, to find a way to help Lloyd and her husband, Tony, an instructor in TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls, with the burden of their son’s final expenses.

“Cheryl is such a kind and giving person, and she gives her all to the Electrical Lineworker program so that the department really sees her as the mom over there,” Novosad said. “And I would do anything for her and her family because she just inspires good.”

Novosad reached out to the TSTC Faculty Senate and The TSTC Foundation, whose members acquired food and drinks to be sold. The Electrical Lineworker Technology students furnished baked goods to sell, and students from various TSTC programs volunteered to go to classrooms with goods to promote the fundraiser.

“It’s for one of our own. It’s a good cause, and they needed help,” said Eric Roen, a second-semester Electrical Lineworker Technology major student.

For more information about Anthony, his family and an opportunity to donate, visit the GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/billy-anthony-memorial-fund.

For more information about Texas State Technical College, visit tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Visionary Murray Watson Jr. Remembered for Service

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College mourned Wednesday the loss of former Texas legislator Murray Watson Jr., who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC.

“If there was ever a Mr. TSTC, it would be Murray Watson,” said Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief strategic relations officer.

Watson died Tuesday at age 86.

Watson was a state senator when he filed legislation to make the James Connally Technical Institute independent and rename it Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC). Gov. Preston Smith signed the bill’s final version in May 1969 in Austin.

At TSTC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2015 in Austin, Watson was honored with a Founder’s Award.

Watson’s name is on TSTC’s student recreation center on Campus Drive. That factored into his wife, Greta, having been honored with the nearby Culinary Arts building being named for her.

“Murray and I walked out of the old (TSTC) system’s building, and we were about a million dollars short to build the new Culinary Arts Center,” Stuckly said. “I said, ‘Mr. Watson, I want you to think about something. Your name is on that (the recreation center) building. Wouldn’t it be nice for it (the new building) to be called the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center? If you give us a million dollars, you could look at each other forever.’ It wasn’t a couple of weeks later that he called and said he was going to do it.”

Stuckly said Watson was a mentor who would give him advice.

“He always stayed in contact with me by email,” Stuckly said. “He was always looking for ways and ideas of how to make TSTC a better college.”

Stuckly said he and Watson always found much to talk about.

“He grew up in Mart, and I was raised in Penelope,” Stuckly said. “He always wanted to ask about TSTC first, then talk about farm cattle and his feed store and what I used to do on the farm. He said, ‘Elton, there aren’t many people that I can talk to who relate to those times.’”

Verna Lastrapes, a TSTC college outreach specialist, grew up knowing the Watson family in Mart. She said Watson’s family owned the local feed store, which she would visit as a four-year-old with her father at least twice a week to catch up with residents.

“Murray Jr. was a senior at Mart High School then,” she said. “I knew him well because he and my sister, Barbara, were friends.”

Pete Rowe, TSTC’s vice president for institutional development, hauled hay for Watson when he was a teenager in Mart. Rowe also graduated from Mart High School.

“It’s a personal loss for me because I loved him so much,” Rowe said. “He was a great mentor to me. He and Mrs. Watson have always been very kind to me and have done a lot for me in my life and career.”

Lastrapes said residents in Mart thought Watson would be president one day.

“He did not become president, but he did become our state representative and our state senator,” she said. “As a teenager, I remember helping campaign for him. Just about everyone in Mart campaigned for him.”

The feed store factored into Watson’s law career.

“When he lost the campaign for U.S. representative and went into private law practice, he had his office in Waco and one in Mart above the feed store,” Lastrapes said. “For years that is where he conducted all legal transactions with my daddy and other rural area farmers and businessmen.”

Rowe said Watson raised cattle andis sure he must have encountered on his ranch some of what TSTC teaches today.

“Murray was a highly intelligent person,” he said. “He was way ahead of the curve in the education field. He really studied education. He knew what to do.”

Lastrapes worked several years at the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp. Inc., which financed student loans. Watson was one of the organization’s founders.

“He had his own time schedule,” she said. “We began to say, ‘The starting time is when Murray Watson gets there.’ That was for everything!”

John K. Hatchel, chair of the TSTC Board of Regents, worked with Watson as a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service’s board of directors.

“He was very quiet, but he was consistent,” Hatchel said. “If there was a person who needed something or help, he was the first in line to do his part. He did it not expecting any accolades or thank-you’s. He just did it as a person.”

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

 

TSTC Welding Provides Opportunities for Area Jobs

(BRECKENRIDGE) – One of Stephens County’s largest industries is oil and gas, and with that comes the need for qualified welders.

“There is always a lot of demand in the oil industry for welders and they pay well also,” said Virgil Moore, executive director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. “There is always a shortage it seems like. Texas State Technical College fills that gap.”

And, there are plenty of jobs for TSTC’s Welding Technology graduates to consider.

The Abilene-Breckenridge area has more than 300 welding jobs open now, said Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas in Abilene.

“There are so many welding jobs available right now that they can’t fill a lot of their positions,” he said.

Some jobs in welding in the Big Country do not involve oil and gas.

Southern Bleacher Co. in Graham has 35 welders among its 150 employees. The company produces bleachers, support structures, decking systems and coatings for school districts, universities, fairgrounds and event venues throughout the nation.

“We go through phases when a lot of people join the Southern Bleacher family, they do not leave,” said Sarah Lundgren, the company’s communications director. “Our turnover is pretty small.”

But, Lundgren said the company occasionally has hiring campaigns for welders. The company and TSTC have partnered together in the past.

“Our welders are not hired for specific jobs,” she said. “They work on all jobs. There are different welding areas of the shop and have different responsibilities.”

Stephen Hope, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor in Breckenridge, said students typically have jobs when they graduate. He said students have recently found work at ProFrac in Cisco and Tiger Manufacturing Co. in Abilene.

Jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers nationwide are expected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A majority of these jobs are expected to be in manufacturing.

TSTC in Breckenridge offers a three-semester structural welding certificate which includes classes teaching blueprint reading, fabrication, layout and technical calculations.

Registration for fall classes is ongoing right now. For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.