Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC in Waco Q&A with Alex Cardona of Round Rock

(WACO) – Alex Cardona, 23, of Round Rock is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He is also vice president of the technical college’s SkillsUSA chapter.

Cardona is a 2012 graduate of Round Rock High School.

How did you become interested in Automotive Technology? “I have always been interested in vehicles and I like to work on the classics. My grandfather and stepfather were both mechanics.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “A family friend of mine went to TSTC for Auto Collision and Management Technology and I looked into the technical college online. I applied and then came to visit. I really liked it. TSTC is a good fit. I’m here and I’m doing really well.”

What is a day like in the Automotive Technology garages? “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a learning experience. We do things here that we can’t do at other schools. We also work on real-life vehicle problems. There is a lot you need to know and I like challenges.”

Are Fridays special in your technical program? “Every Friday during the semesters we get to diagnose vehicles with actual problems. We do that for TSTC students, faculty and staff. It’s free labor and all you have to do is pay for the parts. We do a great deal of customer service work and explain what is wrong with their vehicle. It teaches the students how to talk to a customer. It teaches responsibility.”

What do you like to do when you are not in class or studying? “I like to go to car shows and hang out with my friends. I love to go swimming at Blue Hole in Georgetown and also jump off the big cliff there.”

What advice would you give to high school students thinking about college and their careers? “I would tell them to give a technical college a shot.”

What are your plans after graduation in 2018? “I am thinking about working for a dealership or the Texas Department of Transportation. At TxDOT, it’s maintaining the fleet they have, from off-road to state vehicles.”

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are expected to grow to about 779,000 workers nationwide by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were more than 47,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics working in Texas for an annual mean wage of $41,760 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Waco, there were more than 530 workers with an annual mean wage of $37,340. In the Austin – Round Rock area, there were 3,580 employees with an annual mean wage of $46,440.

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TSTC in Waco Student Q&A with Bryan Ray of Temple

(WACO) – Bryan Ray, 35, of Temple is a Cyber Security major at Texas State Technical College.

Ray, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is a TSTC student ambassador and is scheduled to graduate in 2019.

The Bryan – College Station native grew up playing baseball and showing animals in 4-H. He is a 2000 graduate of Still Creek Christian Academy in Bryan.

When Ray is not studying or in classes, he spends as much time as possible with his wife and two children or at the gym or closest golf course.

What made you decide to join the U.S. Marine Corps? “I was in for 10 years. I enlisted right after 9/11 when I was attending Texas A&M University and majoring in kinesiology. I wanted to serve and do my part. I did one tour in Iraq. I did my training in San Diego and spent the rest of my time in the military police as a criminal investigator.”

Why did you choose Cyber Security to major in? “I didn’t want to do police work anymore. I worked in retail with my dad and I decided to check TSTC out. I saw Cyber Security and did some research in the field and came and talked to the staff.”

How did you adapt to attending college again? “It was a small adjustment being in the classroom, doing homework and commuting. But I’ve learned so much from when I first started.”

What do you do as a TSTC student ambassador? “I do tours and work in the Welcome Center at the Student Services Center. I answer questions for visitors and help anybody with what they need. I work about 12 to 15 hours a week. Having the GI Bill with the financial aid, I can bridge the gap with extra work.”

What are your plans after graduation? “I would like to work for the U.S. Department of Defense or National Security Agency or somewhere else in the government. I like how the government is regimented.”

One of the fields that Cyber Security graduates can go into is information security analysis. Texas had more than 7,500 jobs as of May 2016, according to the most recent information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Dallas – Plano – Irving area had the most jobs in Texas with 3,300. The field is expected to grow 18 percent nationally through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People with Cyber Security degrees can also pursue jobs as computer support specialists, web developers and database administrators.

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TSTC Auto Tech Students Learn Up-to-Date Vehicle Technology

(WACO) – Carlos Encarnacion of Waco walked into Texas State Technical College with knowledge about electrical engineering from having earned a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university.

But Encarnacion, 27, said he had difficulties finding a job in his field and needed a plan. He followed a hobby for working on vehicles into working on an automotive technician certificate and is scheduled to graduate in December.

Some of Encarnacion’s hands-on learning involves troubleshooting the hardware in vehicles. On a recent day, he worked with other students outside one of the Automotive Technology program’s garages searching for a bad sensor.

Encarnacion said he has been impressed at how far technology has progressed in vehicles.

“It is almost impossible to keep it in memory,” he said. “You have to do research to keep up with it. I find it amazing that 15 years ago you were lucky to have a television screen in the back. The possibilities are endless.”

Students in TSTC’s Automotive Technology program take classes in electrical systems and learn about wiring diagrams, manufacturer service information and networking.

“We don’t write code so we can’t change the software,” said Thomas Breshears, an instructor in the Automotive Technology program. “We have to know software to figure out the hardware. If one manufacturer does something, the rest will do the same thing.”

Manufacturers are moving toward having software updates downloaded through in-vehicle radio systems.

“They are planning to do that for all modules in vehicles in the future,” said Eric Upton, service director at Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Waco. “They are trying to work out the kinks globally.”

Students who enter the Automotive Technology program should have good reasoning and mathematics skills, Breshears said.

Upton said prospective employees need a basic understanding of mechanics to do standard repairs. But, service technicians should feel comfortable troubleshooting and replacing modules for vehicle functions, such as window switches. Manufacturers typically have their own training for employees to learn the technical specifics of their products.

Service technicians are seeing more vehicles with integrated mobile phone capabilities.

“As technology increases, the cybersecurity portion of it is not a huge threat yet, but I would strongly suspect in another 10 years it is going to be a lot more prevalent,” Upton said.

The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act of 2017 sponsored by Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-MA, is currently in the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The proposed legislation calls for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate vehicles with accessible data or control signals have the capability to detect, report and stop security breaches to driving operation and data.

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TSTC in Waco Students, Faculty Answer Call to Provide Hurricane Help

(WACO) – Adam Pechacek saw it as a sign.

Pechacek, 27, of West and a student at Texas State Technical College, said he and his girlfriend prayed as Hurricane Harvey made its destructive visit in late August to the Texas coast. They wanted to help the people affected, somehow.

His neighbor, Bryce Grimes of Georgetown and a TSTC Welding Technology student, appeared shortly thereafter with the answer Pechacek was seeking.

“He (Grimes) knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to go south,” he said.

Although Grimes and Pechacek planned a relief trip to Port Aransas that was to start on Labor Day, a few days earlier two TSTC faculty members had been activated by the Texas Army National Guard. Angel Newhart, statewide Aerospace chair, was with troop members in Katy and in the Beaumont area while Aaron Gilbert, a fixed wing pilot instructor, also worked near Beaumont.

Hurricane Harvey was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Coastal Bend since Hurricane Carla landed in 1961 on the northwest part of Matagorda Island, according to The Weather Channel.

Grimes, 25, said he wanted to help those affected by the hurricane in a direct way. He and Pechacek asked friends and neighbors for items to pack in Grimes’ white 1990 GMC Suburban to take to Port Aransas. Grimes also gave some of his personal belongings to the effort.

“We went down there with $60,” Grimes said. “The last place we topped off the gas tank was in La Grange.”

Grimes and Pechacek ended up at Cowboy Camp David in Port Aransas, a volunteer effort at feeding residents, first responders, law enforcement and workers cleaning up the city. Volunteers cooked donated food on stoves run off propane and generators.

“We had people from all over the state pulling together for one goal,” Pechacek said.

Grimes, who grew up in a military family, and Pechacek, a member of the U.S. Air Force for five years, said their military and survival knowledge helped them through the sunup-to-past-sundown work of feeding people.

“You were finding a solution to everything,” said Pechacek, a certificate major in Cyber Security and Digital Forensics Specialist.

Grimes said leaving the camp on Sept. 8 was a hard decision to make. He and Pechacek consulted with their instructors to miss classes and catch up once they returned to Waco.

“I feel like four days wasn’t enough,” Grimes said. “I didn’t want to leave.”

Grimes and Pechacek said they want to return to the area later in the fall.

“You have to still move forward,” Grimes said. “People said we will rebuild.”

As Grimes and Pechacek worked in Port Aransas, Newhart was waist-deep in water alongside Guardsmen rescuing people in Katy and later in Orange and Jefferson counties. Newhart, a chaplain, was activated from Aug. 27 to Sept. 10.

“We help the members have the opportunity for religious services,” she said. “Soldiers are people too and have the freedom of religion. We take care of the soldiers to make sure they have what they need spiritually and maintain their moral compass.”

Newhart said it was the first time she had seen hurricane damage and its impact on people up close.

“My faith gives me strength and that’s what I depend on,” she said. “As long as I have God, I’m good.”

Newhart returned to her office in TSTC’s Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center on Sept. 11.

“The first day it was relaxing,” she said. “You get to take a breath. I found myself wanting to go out and take care of somebody. It’s different when you are in the water praying with someone.”

Newhart spent four years in the U.S. Army as an aerial intelligence specialist and later worked in counterintelligence. She joined the Texas Army National Guard in 2011.

Aaron Gilbert, 22, of Paradise, joined the Texas Army National Guard when he was in high school. He was activated for hurricane duty from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7 and was a driver on search and rescue missions. He saw vehicles floating in several feet of water.

“The local communities were excited to see us,” he said. “They donated a lot of food to us.”

Gilbert graduated in 2017 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aircraft Pilot Training Technology. His career goal is to fly for a commercial airline.

“Being a flight instructor is a lot of fun,” Gilbert said. “You get to meet a lot of students from different places.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in Waco Auto Collision Students Receive Recognition

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College students Hector Corujo and Jose M. Rodriguez have a lot in common.

Corujo, 34, and Rodriguez, 45, are natives of Puerto Rico and U.S. Army veterans. They are both studying in TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program and have received a national scholarship for members of the military and veterans.

The students received the 2017 3M Hire Our Heroes scholarship sponsored by the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division and the Collision Repair Education Foundation. Corujo and Rodriguez were among 12 veterans receiving $2,000 scholarships. The students also were among 40 veterans who received tool grants.

“It helped me a lot,” Corujo said. “It took a burden off my shoulders. I feel like when I go out in the industry, I will be a more complete technician.”

The students were encouraged to apply for the scholarship by Clint Campbell, department chair of Auto Collision and Management Technology at TSTC.

“Any of the ex-military students tend to be mature coming to class and doing their work,” Campbell said. “They are prompt in being on time. They become leaders in the class.”

Corujo moved as a teenager from Puerto Rico to Florida, where he graduated from high school. The Killeen resident spent 14 years in the U.S. Army and worked as a light wheel vehicle mechanic. His Army stint included three tours of duty in Iraq.

Corujo is studying for the Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization with future plans to pursue the Advanced Technical Certificate in Auto Collision Refinishing.

He is scheduled to graduate in December 2018. His goal after graduation is to open his own auto collision and refinishing shop and own a home in the Hill Country with horses.

“I just like working on cars,” he said. “It keeps me at ease in dealing with PTSD for me.”

Rodriguez, of Kempner, grew up in Puerto Rico and studied criminal justice but could not find a quality job. His sister convinced him to join the military at 32 and he spent 11 years working in military intelligence. Rodriguez did one tour of duty in Afghanistan and two tours of duty in Iraq.

Rodriguez is working on a certificate in Auto Body Refinishing and is scheduled to graduate in December. He wants to work in an auto body shop after graduation.

He hesitated to apply for the scholarship at first because he felt others needed it more than he did. But in the end, Rodriguez said he was happy he received the recognition.

Rodriguez said he has enjoyed meeting other veteran-students while at TSTC.

“You exchange experiences and advice and opinions,” he said. “You get to help the younger students to be more proactive. We tell them to look ahead of the situation and think two steps ahead.”

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TSTC Expands Technology Certification Opportunities

(MARSHALL) – Students in three programs at Texas State Technical College are getting an opportunity to earn technology certifications as part of final exams starting this fall.

The Business Management Technology program in Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen and Marshall is offering students opportunities to earn Microsoft Office certifications.

Students in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at the in Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, along with Cyber Security majors at the Fort Bend, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, can earn Cisco and CompTIA information technology and networking certifications.

“If the industry values a certification or series of complementary certifications, and finds them necessary for our graduates in the workforce, we will implement the appropriate material in our courses,” said Bryan Bowling, director of instructional support at the Fort Bend County campus.

Expanding the concept evolved from an initiative TSTC in Marshall already had students doing.

“When I got here four years ago, the students took the class and then it was optional for them to take the certification exam,” said Randy Haley, associate vice president for student learning at the Marshall campus and statewide lead for the Computer Science division. “What I was seeing was a lot of students were not taking advantage of trying to test to see if they could get certified.”

Marshall faculty members began using certification tests as final examinations three years ago.

“There is nothing like seeing a student pass the Microsoft certification exam,” said Carolyn O’Neill, a Business Management Technology instructor at the Marshall campus. “Their excitement is hard to describe. The tears and little dances say it all. Many students study hard for their certification exam and when they see the pass score, it is so exciting. Their confidence goes through the roof.”

Expanding the use of certification tests to other TSTC campuses involved adding voucher codes to class section numbers, Haley said.

“When they registered for the first time, they paid for their test with their financial aid voucher,” he said. “Not only do they get the degree, but they get the industry certification as well.”

Students are not scheduled to have more than one class with a certification test during a semester, Haley said.

“The certifications are supposed to be hard,” Haley said. “We don’t like to double up on the students. We like them to be doing one certification per semester rather than be loading up at the end.”

Students who enter TSTC with certifications can get class credit, Haley said.

The Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses are certified Pearson VUE centers. Haley said Pearson VUE centers will be at the Fort Bend County, North Texas and Williamson County campuses in early 2018.

TSTC has statewide at least 340 students in the Business Management Technology program, more than 350 students in the Computer Systems and Network Administration program and more than 400 students in the Cyber Security program.

“TSTC is very market-driven and we are one, statewide,” said Bowling. “Our purpose is to ensure the success of our students in the workforce through the statewide lens. Therefore, we work very closely with industry leaders to determine what is most relevant for our students from an instructional standpoint.”

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TSTC Student Q&A with Jordan Harris of Tyler

(WACO) – Jordan Harris, 26, of Tyler is working toward associate degrees in cyber security and digital forensic specialist at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

Beginning this fall the digital forensic specialist degree was changed to a two-semester advanced technical certificate, but Harris is still able to finish the associate degree program. He is scheduled to graduate in December from TSTC.

Harris is a 2010 graduate of Whitehouse High School in Whitehouse in Smith County.

What got you interested in studying technology? “I have always had an interest in computers. Digital forensics is the main degree I want to get a career in. The act of searching for something that may or may not be there is interesting to me.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I learned about it through family members that know people who graduated from here and have had success.”

What do you like to do when you are not in classes or studying? “I’m normally playing fantasy-based, role-playing video games or riding my mountain bike at Cameron Park.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “I would tell them to start college early, as soon as graduating from high school. You should have a basic idea of your major and go with something that makes you happy.”

What are your plans after graduating from TSTC? “I would like to go into the U.S. Air Force and get certifications and do things in the Department of Defense.”

Some of the cyber security fields that are expected to grow through 2024 include networks and systems administration and information security analysis. People studying digital forensics can pursue jobs in the forensic science technology field, which is expected to grow by at least 3,500 jobs through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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TSTC Aviation Programs Receive Jet Engine

(WACO) – Rick Fazollo of Waco is 5 feet 8 inches in height but is looking forward to the tall challenges looming over him in the aviation maintenance hangar at Texas State Technical College.

Fazollo, 28, an Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology major, said he is eager to start troubleshooting and repairing a recently gifted multimillion dollar CFM56 high-bypass turbofan jet engine used in Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737 fleet.

“When I was in the Marines, I worked with turbine engines,” said Fazollo, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Seeing it being brought here was breathtaking.”

The 5,500 lb. and at least 6-foot-tall engine will be used by students in TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology programs. Southwest Airlines will give the aviation maintenance programs the engine’s instruction manuals later this fall so it can be incorporated into classes.

“It’s going to give our aviation mechanics a boost in their learning,” said Carson Pearce, TSTC’s statewide transportation division director in Waco.

Pearce and Kelly Filgo, lead instructor for the airframe and powerplant technology programs at TSTC, both said it would be impossible to purchase an engine like this for class usage. They said in the past students have only been able to see photographs of this kind of engine in theory classes.

“We are getting students in front of it with their eyes,” Filgo said. “The students are very aware of what a great gift this is.”

Christopher Scheel, 26, of Houston is majoring in the airframe and powerplant technology programs and said he has been impressed so far with the engine.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how the cooling systems work,” he said. “It’s a really good opportunity to get your hands on something like this.”

Pearce said TSTC has worked to build relationships with Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, which are both based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Pearce said Southwest Airlines has hired some of TSTC’s Aircraft Dispatch Technology students and American Airlines has employed past Aircraft Pilot Training Technology graduates.

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Dual Credit Classes Put a Spark Into TSTC Student’s Education

(WACO) – Noli Park of Bosqueville first became interested in welding when she was a sophomore at Bosqueville High School.

While she balanced high school academics and extracurricular activities, she took the same welding classes that Texas State Technical College students experienced. The difference was that Park took them at the high school with her TSTC-accredited instructor for dual credit.

“Dual credit gets you a foot in,” said Park, 19. “By the time I graduated, I took 12 semester credit hours, and not just in welding. It made coming to college easier.”

Bosqueville High School has about 200 students, with at least 35 sophomores, juniors and seniors taking part in dual credit academic classes. Kim Granger, a BHS counselor, said some of the classes students take are English, history and government.

Park said TSTC was the best decision she could have made about where to go to college.

“I do a lot more hands-on work,” she said. “It gets you ready for the job life. Here, they want us ready for jobs and to be on time and work hard.”

Park grew up around equipment as her father worked on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. She said tungsten inert gas, or TIG, welding is her favorite.

“I just really like welding,” she said. “I did it to have steadier hands. I originally wanted to be a surgeon.”

Park credits her welding work with being able to get scholarships from the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Park graduated in 2016 from Bosqueville High School and is scheduled to graduate in December from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology.

After graduation, Park wants to work in the field and then teach welding to high school students. She wants to stay in Central Texas to be close to her family.

TSTC’s Waco, Williamson County and North Texas campuses offer more than 20 technical pathways, including Auto Collision Refinishing, Avionics and Electrical Lineworker, that students can take to earn dual credit hours. The classes can be taken either at TSTC or at the students’ home campuses.

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TSTC in Waco Starts Fall Semester

(WACO) – Weston Potter, a Building Construction Technology major at Texas State Technical College, is a first-day-of-class veteran.

Potter, 21, from Mansfield, began the fall semester on Monday with the finish line in sight – he is scheduled to graduate in May and is ready to go to work.

“The first day is so good because it’s building a solid foundation for my future,” Potter said.

His advice for first-semester students at TSTC was to pay attention and know they will understand how to balance their new responsibilities.

Faculty members in Building Construction Technology and Welding Technology said their classes went smoothly Monday. Students visited the Student Services Center Monday morning to make final payment arrangements or visit the campus bookstore.

TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison was on the greenway early Monday morning greeting students.

“The first day of the fall semester is always special,” he said. “I love the excitement and buzz on campus as students fill up the sidewalks and make their way to class. There are many new faces who are just starting their journey with TSTC, and there are lots of familiar, returning students who are excited about finishing their degrees or certificates this term.”

Branden Paradis, 18, of Del Rio has several Del Rio High School alumni to learn from as he begins studying in the Welding Technology program. He arrived during the weekend to move into Village Oaks Apartments at TSTC and has already found where the Del Rio students are living.

“I’m excited for college and it is cooler that I can be with my classmates,” Paradis said. “I learned about TSTC from my instructor. I applied first then visited the campus and was impressed with what I saw.”

The first day of the semester ended with a dodgeball tournament held at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center as part of Welcome Week. Other activities this week include a game night, pool tournament and block party.

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