Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Plumbing Students Tour Local Water Park

(WACO) –Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology students saw Tuesday what it takes to keep visitors wet under the summer sunshine at Hawaiian Falls Water Park.

Dwayne Ogan, 57, a TSTC alumnus and lead pool technician at the water park on Lake Shore Drive in Waco, showed students the venue’s pump and filtration system. This was the first time TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology students have toured the venue.

“This gave them an idea of what the plumbing industry can be like,” Ogan said.

Ogan, who has worked in pool maintenance for three decades, told students that water park staff constantly check the water’s pH, chlorine and bromine levels. Each section of the park is on its own system.

Students also saw the sand filtration system and where motors function in cooler areas. Some students ventured underground behind the North Shore Breaker Bay wave pool to see its pumps.

Ogan, who studied facilities engineering, industrial maintenance and media communications at TSTC, encouraged students to understand drafting and design as they work on projects.

Jimmy Bibb, a TSTC Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology instructor, said the time at the water park was valuable for students to see a different side of the plumbing and pipefitting field. The students were able to learn more about backflow prevention and plumbing codes, which are taught in the program.

“When they see the installations working, it drives home the value of it to actually see it,” Bibb said.

Students were interested in what water park visitors typically do not get to see.

David McCormick, 31, a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology major from Temple, said he enjoyed learning about the measurement and volume of water and moving it around the venue.

“I was really impressed,” he said. “I did not know how much effort went into maintenance and upkeep.”

Evan McBroom, 19, a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology major from Bryan, said he liked learning about the water-testing process.

“What impressed me was the size of the equipment and pipes,” he said.

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TSTC Alumna Finds Career Path at Country Club

(WACO) – During last year’s Independence Day festivities, Danielle Woodard was on Lake Waco watching the fireworks put on by Ridgewood Country Club.

By this year’s Fourth of July, Woodard, 42, was the country club’s new director of communications. A 2016 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Visual Communication Technology program, she began the job in early June.

After graduation she had stints at First Woodway Baptist Church, the Waco Tribune-Herald and in retail before learning from TSTC instructors about the open position at the country club.

“I never even saw a job posting,” Woodard said.

She is the country club’s first communications director. Some of the work she has done so far include building its social media presence and designing and editing the country club’s bimonthly publication, The Rambler.

“Thanks to my education, I am totally prepared,” Woodard said. “There is a lot of potential. We want to put our best foot forward.”

She also works on internal communications about the country club’s special activities for all ages, including golf tournaments and an annual member appreciation event.

“We try to brand each event,” Woodard said. “I love branding and enjoy it.”

She said the country club is member-owned, so they do not use traditional advertising methods. The country club has more than 1,000 members.

“I am so thankful when I pull through the gates and go down the canopied drive and see the lake,” Woodard said. “It is so beautiful.”

Woodard graduated in 1994 from Midway High School and studied marketing for three years at The University of Texas at Austin. Before her scheduled graduation, she moved to California.

“California is where I discovered I wanted to be a designer,” she said. “I tried to go to school full time at night and work full time. I could not maintain work and going to school.”

She later moved to Seattle, then returned to Texas in 2006. She did online classes and found they were expensive.

She visited TSTC and learned that some credits from her previous college experiences could be transferred. She started classes at TSTC in 2014.

“It felt like coming home and where I belonged,” Woodard said.

Jennifer Piper, a TSTC Visual Communication Technology instructor, said Woodard was a dream student.

“She never really shied away from asking questions,” Piper said. “She did her work and did it really well.”

TSTC offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication Technology, which includes classes in art direction, digital imaging, digital publishing and other topics.

“In all the classes, we encouraged the students to take their own photography to incorporate into their own pieces,” Piper said. “We encouraged them to use their own drawings. We want them to make the work personal.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Republic Airline Representatives Visit TSTC

(WACO) – Representatives of Indianapolis-based Republic Airline visited Texas State Technical College on Wednesday afternoon to talk to aviation students about careers.

The airline, like others in the United States, needs qualified pilots. The number of airline and commercial pilots is expected to grow to more than 129,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many positions need to be filled due to retirements, with some of the best job possibilities being at regional airlines, according to the federal agency.

Republic Airline opened a new crew and maintenance base July 1 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, its first in Texas. Lauren K.E. Isaacs, a college relations consultant for Republic Airline, said having a larger Texas presence could mean a new labor market to fill jobs for pilots, aviation mechanics and other support fields. The airline’s bases are primarily in the Midwest and Northeast.

The airline has the RJet Cadet Program for students at federal Part 141 aviation schools who have their instrument rating, a cumulative 3.0 GPA, no more than two checkride failures and are authorized to work in the United States.

The airline also has the RJet Ambassadors Program for college students to be part-time employees to represent the company on campus.

Thomas Schroeder, 21, of Conroe is a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Training Technology major who became an RJet Ambassador in January.

He said he was glad airline staff made the trip to Waco.

“It shows they have a vested interest in the future of the industry,” Schroeder said.

The airline offers summer internships for students interested in communications, engineering, flight operations, graphic design, supply chain management and other fields. Selected interns work in Indianapolis, Isaacs said.

Parker Allan, 24, of Martindale is a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Training Technology and Aircraft Dispatch Technology major scheduled to graduate in 2020. He wants to stay in Texas to work after graduation.

Allan said he enjoyed hearing details of the pilot’s life in selecting the best place to live and working with flight schedules. He said the information gave him a good start thinking about his future as a pilot.

“It was eye-opening,” Allan said.

Republic Airline was known as Chautauqua Airlines when the first flight was made on Aug. 1, 1974, from Jamestown, New York.

Today, the airline has about 5,500 employees and partners with American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. The airline has a fleet of more than 190 Embraer 170/175s.

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TSTC in Abilene to Introduce New Electrical Power and Controls Program This Fall

(ABILENE) – A new way to study power technology that keeps electricity flowing will debut in August in the Big Country.

Texas State Technical College will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls this fall at the new Industrial Technology Center on Navajo Trail in Abilene. The degree is the first of its kind to be offered at TSTC’s four West Texas campuses.

Some of the skills that Electrical Power and Controls majors can acquire include an understanding of the National Electrical Code, how direct and alternating currents function, and electrical design.

“Our guys go to work with utilities and testing and maintenance in the wind industry,” said Dan Bateman, a senior instructor in TSTC in Waco’s Electrical Power and Controls program. “A lot of companies will hire a contractor to maintain their substations and generators. The companies come here to interview.”

The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land area has the highest number of electrical and electronics engineering technicians in Texas with more than 3,700, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. West Texas, excluding Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, had about 200 technician jobs.

Some of the other jobs graduates can go into include electrical and electronics repairers for substations, powerhouses and relays, and electrical and electronics engineering technicians.

Ryan Bartholomew, a human resources consultant at AEP Texas in Abilene, said he cannot consider applicants for jobs in the field without an associate degree. He said AEP Texas has hired TSTC Electrical Power and Controls graduates in the past.

“I build relationships with people and have phone conversations and try to make a cognitive effort to email TSTC and say, ‘When is your next graduating class? I have this job coming open,’” Bartholomew said.

The program’s instructor in Abilene, Kevin Staton, owned an electrical business in Virginia before moving this summer to join TSTC. He said students are in for a “wonderful experience” with the hands-on learning.

“You have to respect electricity or it will hurt you,” Staton said. “There is one thing you can count on, and that is always having a job in this field. It’s going to be hard for a computer or anything to take over this kind of trade.”

The Electrical Power and Controls program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which promises graduates will secure jobs in their field within six months of graduation or receive their tuition money back.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Alumnus Connects Students with Job Opportunities

(WACO) — Networking is all about creating connections.

Jonathan McElmurry, a Texas State Technical College alumnus and network engineer at Cisco Systems Inc. in Richardson, recently enlightened TSTC students about job opportunities in the computer networking industry.

“I want students to know that getting a job at Cisco is within their grasp. Apply as many times as needed, and it’s not out of your reach. This school prepared me perfectly to get in the door and get a job,” McElmurry said.

McElmurry graduated from TSTC in August 2017 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and started working for Cisco three months later.

Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking for the internet.

“Cisco gives us 40 hours a year to give back, and the first thing I wanted to do was come back to TSTC and advocate for Cisco,” McElmurry said. “It’s so important to have someone come back and let other students know that a company like Cisco is a real opportunity for them.”

Cyber security and digital forensics student Lori Wise said that McElmurry’s advice was all she needed to have the courage to apply at Cisco.

“I think it’s so important that a company wants to invest in you. And he (McElmurry) was a big help in what information to add to my resume and what to expect during the interview process. I’m going to apply immediately,” Wise said.

TSTC instructor John Washington was more than happy to organize the meet and greet when McElmurry reached out to him.

“I think it gives the students something real when the alumni come back and talk and give advice to the current students. It’s more real for them, and Jon has really embraced the Cisco culture to become a great advocate,” Washington said.

Before ending his discussion with the students, McElmurry offered some guiding wisdom that he says allowed him to thrive at his job.

“Don’t worry about knowing everything; you never will. This school lets you get prepared to do well in this industry and anything else you can learn along the way,” McElmurry said.

TSTC students visit the Cisco campus in Richardson with Washington once a year and can network with other alumni through the TSTC alumni LinkedIn account.

Registration for fall classes at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit

TSTC Student Spending the Summer at NASA Internship

(HARLINGEN) – Saul Pizano liked to watch space shuttle launches on television when he was growing up.

Now, that fascination with space is enabling the Texas State Technical College student to learn from professionals in their environment.

Pizano, 22, began a summer internship in June in NASA’s Lithium Ion Battery Thermal Management System at Johnson Space Center in Houston. His role is to help design a thermal management system used in batteries for usage in space. He is scheduled to finish in mid-August with an option of continuing in the fall.

“Anything that is sent into space requires power requires batteries,” Pizano said.

Mark Rosas, an instructor in TSTC’s Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics program, said internships are important for a student’s future success in the workplace.

“Internships in general are awesome,” he said. “They (the students) get real-world experience and learning beyond a classroom setting. It puts you one step above a competitor in a job search.”

Pizano took a week off from his internship to compete in late June on a two-man team in Additive Manufacturing at SkillsUSA’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The competition involved using knowledge of 3-D printing and computer aided drafting.

“You are applying what you learn at SkillsUSA and can apply this to work,” he said.

The trip to Kentucky also marked the first time Pizano had been out of Texas.

“I want to travel more,” he said. “There are so many things to experience.”

Pizano grew up in Harlingen and graduated in 2014 from Harlingen High School.

“I helped my dad a lot when I was smaller,” he said. “He would take me out to these construction sites. I loved seeing how all the houses are designed. I liked the idea of creating something from nothing.”

Pizano graduated from TSTC in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics and earlier this year received an Associate of Science degree in Physics.

After his internship, he wants to study mechanical engineering and physics at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“We tell our students that finishing an associate degree is only a stepping stone into something better,” said David Campos, TSTC’s statewide division director for Architecture, Science and Engineering Technology. “They can make a real good career out of it or as a stepping stone.”

Pizano wants to one day work full time in a civil service job at NASA.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Student Awarded National Construction Scholarship

(WACO) – Timothy Watkins grew up on a ranch in Milam County working on fences and repairing tractors.

“We built our house there and I got to be part of that,” he said.

Watkins, 24, a Building Construction Technology major at Texas State Technical College, did not know his talents would land a nationwide scholarship. The Cameron resident was one of 28 recipients of Fine Homebuilding’s #KeepCraftAlive Scholarship. He was honored at a reception at SkillsUSA’s 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

He said he was grateful for the $2,500 scholarship.

“I’ve been paying for each semester out-of-pocket, so it helps,” he said.

John Russell, an instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, encouraged Watkins to apply for the scholarship given to SkillsUSA high school and college students, along with organization alumni, studying in the construction field.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers.

Russell said he admired Watkins’ demeanor and attentiveness.

“His attention to detail is rarely surpassed,” Russell said. “He is an ‘A’ student in my classes. He always has the answer if called upon in class. He is soft spoken and respectful at all times.”

While at the SkillsUSA conference, Watkins represented TSTC and the state in the Cabinetmaking contest. It was the first time he participated in SkillsUSA.

“I’ve always been interested in challenging myself,” he said. “I was calm in the beginning of the competition. I did run into a mistake and was able to fix it. I tried to make the right cuts and be consistent. I’m definitely inspired to complete some more projects.”

Watkins graduated in 2012 from C.H. Yoe High School in Cameron. He did home remodeling as an after-school job.

“I’ve always been interested in being challenging myself,” Watkins said. “I’ve always loved building.”

Watkins is scheduled to graduate from TSTC in spring 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology.

After graduation, Watkins wants to work in the construction field in the Austin area.

For more information on Texas State Technical College or to register for fall classes,  go to


Temple Business Finding Value in TSTC Alumni

(WACO) — In the fast lane it can be easy to forget the importance of family values, but for the folks at Wisener’s Auto Clinic, LLC, family is what keeps the engine running smoothly.

For over 30 years, Wisner’s has prided itself on serving the Bell County area with honest and efficient work, entrusting two TSTC graduates to help preserve that mission.

“We need to look at our business with a servant’s heart and provide the highest level of service to our community and others,” Neil Wisener, president, said.

Justin Dillard and Chris Duffy are both TSTC alumni working at Wisener’s. Dillard graduated in 2013 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and Duffy graduated in 2002 with a certification in Industrial Maintenance. Dillard has been with the company for a year while Duffy has been with the company for the past two and a half years.

“It’s been great with Wisener’s because it’s family-based. I worked with Bill, Neil’s dad, and Neil, and they really do want you to be your best and keep training to be better,” Duffy said.

After graduating, Dillard felt confident to enter the workforce and credits his time at TSTC for helping him to succeed.  

“I like working on cars because it’s always something different and TSTC really prepared me for the industry and interviews so that I can do what I love,” Dillard said.

During the hiring process at Wisener’s, Neil asks applicants what their goals are to determine if they are dedicated to providing the level of service his company is known for.

“We’ve always looked at TSTC students because they’ve always stood out to us as good interview candidates,” Wisener said. “Those that come out of TSTC seem to have their act together and are clearly focused in advancing their skills and careers.”  

Both alumni agree that their time at TSTC and Wisener’s is allowing them to grow in their careers, while still having time for family.

“I got started working on cars with my dad and my brothers went to TSTC for industrial maintenance too. Family is important to me just like it is to the Wisener’s,” Duffy said.

Wisener’s Auto Clinic, LLC was purchased by Bill Wisener, Jr. in 1987. Neil Wisener purchased it after his father retired in 2009. There are two locations in Temple.

With TSTC as a partner, the future is bright for the established auto shop and the graduates hired to work there.

Registration for fall classes at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit

TSTC Student Uses Gift of Education to Keep Giving

(WACO) — Education may be the key to creating a better life for oneself, but for Texas State Technical College student Taylor Dudik, it’s also the opportunity to create a better life for others.

Dudik is a second-semester Instrumentation Technology student who plans to use her degree as a way to support her five-year-old daughter and stay involved in various philanthropic activities.

Dudik finds time in her busy schedule to volunteer with the Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center in Waco, as well as fostering  animals through Gray Mutts Rescue and Sanctuary in Clifton and running T&B Doggie Haven in Aquilla.

“I wish I could do more. This degree and the job that will follow are going to allow me to help and do more,” Dudik said. “It will allow me to give money and have more time to donate. I love helping people; it just makes me happy.”

Dudik’s life can be hectic at times, but she is determined to set an example for her daughter.

“I’m a single mom, and I want my daughter to see me as an example of ‘girl power,’” Dudik said. “I want her to see that you can go out and do anything you want, and for her to always have those values of helping people, no matter what.”

Dudik’s giving attitude made an impression on her instructors and subsequently helped her get to know one of her neighbors.

“Taylor and I found out we live on the same road in the first few days of class,” said Linda Martin, TSTC senior instructor of Instrumentation, Computer Controls and Robotics. “Even in my first impression, she came off as very happy to be there and focused and just an open person, which will help her big-time in the field.”

Martin and Dudik both encourage women to enter the instrumentation field and take advantage of the financial opportunities that can follow.

“For a woman who is not afraid to get outdoors and get to work, you can provide for yourself. Especially for single mothers, it’s great because you can provide for your family and have insurance and be able to thrive on your own,” Martin said.

Dudik was pleasantly surprised to have a female instructor and to see other women in her classes. She thoroughly supports anyone who has an interest in the field.  

“If you’re a girl, you can do anything you feel like. And don’t be embarrassed or ashamed — just do it,” Dudik said. “Don’t be scared to put some boots on, get your safety glasses, get your hard hat, and let’s go!”

Dudik plans to graduate in spring 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Registration for fall classes at TSTC is underway. For more information, visit


Houston Company, TSTC Alumnus Help Support BCT Program

(WACO) – The driver of the semi-trailer truck made the turn onto Airline Drive and maneuvered left into a driveway next to Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology building. A BCT faculty member sat ready with a forklift to begin unloading the vehicle’s contents.

And, the items kept coming and coming.

“I think it’s great,” said Chris Porter, a TSTC in Waco BCT instructor and master plumber. “It’s a great relief for our department.”

The semi-trailer truck carried more than 1,300 pieces of lumber from Boise Cascade in Sugar Land and 80 pieces of No. 2 and BTR (better) Douglas fir lumber from Weyerhaeuser Co. in Houston. The items were delivered by Double G Forest Products in Navasota. The nine bundles of lumber is valued at slightly less than $14,000.

The in-kind gift was from Camden Living in Houston and organized by Steve Hefner, senior vice president of construction and a graduate of the BCT program at TSTC in Waco.

“I’m a huge advocate of TSTC and I believe strongly in our workforce and technical schools that provide a benefit to this country,” he said.

Michael Carrillo, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor, said the gift means he and other instructors can have students work on larger scale hands-on projects in classes.

“It’s pushing the efforts in what we are trying to do to help the workforce,” Carrillo said. “The students get what they need. We can expand and grow labs and make them more complex. It gives them more realistic scenarios.”

Hefner also made a $2,500 gift to the Building Construction Technology program for SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a nationwide professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help college and high school students pursue successful careers. TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program has students that participate in cabinet making, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and group construction contests on the state and national level.

“These will be life changing moments for the students in the future,” Hefner said.

Carrillo said the money could be used to purchase uniforms and hard hats for the program’s SkillsUSA participants to use at yearly competitions and scholarship opportunities for future students.

“One of the biggest expenses a student has are uniforms,” he said. “SkillsUSA are the top notch students. SkillsUSA provides a pathway to a company.”

Porter said he hoped the construction students would value the gifts. And, he said he wants one day for the students to contribute in their own ways to the program long after graduating.

“I hope they do see there are good people in the world who really want to help a good program,” he said.

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