Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Building Construction Technology Students Learn About Protection Equipment

(WACO) – Students in the Building Construction Technology program at Texas State Technical College recently learned about the importance of personal protection equipment.

Ben Sanchez, a safety specialist for Richards Supply Co. in Fort Worth, talked to students about what the safety responsibilities of employers and employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety guidelines.

There were 991 deaths in the construction field in 2016, according to OSHA. The agency’s “fatal four” for most of these deaths were falls, being hit by objects, electrocutions and caught-in or -between situations involving equipment or collapsing structures.  

Construction industry safety could save more than 630 lives in the United States per year, according to OSHA.

“Employers must protect their employees,” Sanchez said.

Employers should perform a regular hazard assessment and find ways to eliminate problems. After hazards are assessed, employers need to consider what personal protection equipment is needed, Sanchez said. Some of the equipment can include ear protection, respirators, hard hats and safety vests.

Some of the workplace dangers that can occur include falling tools, which can be remedied with tool lanyards. There were 93 worker fatalities from being struck by objects in the U.S. in 2016, according to OSHA.

Sanchez said people in the construction field need to wear face protection to reduce injuries caused by dust particles, cleaning solutions, chemical splashes and other substances. Face protection includes properly fitting, prescription eyewear with the correct indoor and outdoor tints and coatings.

“The quality of the coating matches the cost of the glasses,” Sanchez said.

Eyewear should also include quality foam lining.

“You are not going to get a good seal with just plastic on your face,” Sanchez said.

Some construction work requires respirators, which employers must have employees wear only if they are cleared medically and physically. Sanchez said employers should develop worker change-out schedules when respirators are needed.

“If you can smell or taste it, it’s in your lungs,” he said.

Sanchez said hearing protection should be used according to the decibel level of what is happening around employees. He said the noise-reduction rating should be considered when buying hearing protection.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 4 million workers work in damaging noise conditions. In 2017, there were 23,000 cases nationally reported of occupational hearing loss that could lead to hearing impairment, according to NIOSH.

Students said they were glad to hear the information, which is reinforced daily by faculty members through quizzes, course lessons and enforced guidelines for working in the construction lab.

“Looking forward, our end goal is getting a good job,” said Courtney Seelhorst, 29, a Building Construction Technology major from Plano. “To have someone from the outside in industry coming to talk to us makes it real and applicable.”

Mae Allen, 18, a Building Construction Technology major from Waco, said Sanchez’s talk made her think more about protecting her eyes.

“I like taking things and making them new,” Allen said. “I’m good with my hands and doing things myself.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Mansfield ISD Students Blast Off at TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center

(WACO) – Natalyn Ramos, 11, a Mansfield Independent School District sixth-grade student, experienced what life is like for an astronaut during a visit earlier this week to the Challenger Learning Center at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

Though Ramos said she enjoyed working in Mission Control to guide a mock space mission, space is not where she wants to go as a profession. Ramos said she wants to study forensics and become an FBI agent.

“I like science and love space, but I don’t think I would travel to space,” she said.

Ramos and her classmates from the school district’s Icenhower Intermediate School visited on Wednesday the Challenger Learning Center. On eight days in January, the more than 400-member sixth-grade class will take part in Grand Prairie-based ECHO Education’s “Texas: It’s a Go, Mission Control” program while at the center.

At the learning center, Icenhower’s students will participate in the “Rendezvous With a Comet” mission, visit the planetarium and do a school-led experiment studying the splattering effects of meteorites hitting grass, water, cement and aluminum surfaces.

The field-study trip aligns with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards for understanding Earth and space, said Stacy Rountree, ECHO Education’s director of education and day-programs director.

“I think our Challenger program will grow very quickly because of word-of-mouth,” Rountree said. “I love hands-on (learning). When a child does something hands-on, they will remember it. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing they get to do.”

Rebecca Burton, an Icenhower sixth-grade science teacher, said the Waco visits reinforce what has been taught in space units the students have recently done. And, the students also learn valuable teamwork and communication skills.

“Being able to come here and see what was talked about coming to life is great,” she said. “I would like them to take away that mathematics and science are important every day. They can open up jobs and other possibilities.”

Icenhower sixth-grade student Jordan Tankersley, 12, said he was still interested in theater as a profession but enjoyed learning about zodiac signs in the learning center’s planetarium.

“It was a very cool experience to see what astronauts and mission control staff do and to see how hard it is for them,” he said. “I am excited to be here.”

ECHO Education provides lunch for students and charter bus travel to and from schools. The organization works with more than 40 Dallas-Fort Worth-area school districts.

The nonprofit ECHO Education made it possible for two groups of fifth grade students from the Aledo Independent School District to visit the learning center in November.

ECHO Education staff are already planning school visits for February.

The Challenger Learning Center honors the astronauts who died Jan. 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed on the Challenger space shuttle launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The initiative was founded later that year by the families of the seven astronauts tragically killed. TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center is affiliated with the nonprofit Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Challenger Learning Center at Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Building Construction Technology Students Build New Computer Lab

(WACO) – Building Construction Technology students at Texas State Technical College are seeing the results of learning exercises their fall semester classmates had in interior finishing.

Room 103 in the Building Construction Technology Building was once a classroom, but students have transformed the space into a computer lab able to accommodate 24 students.

John Russell, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor, designed plans on the software programs Chief Architect and Inventor. About 50 students built desks, painted, installed Sheetrock and set up cabling during the fall semester. Staff at TSTC’s Information Technology Support Operations helped get computers online.

The desks are made of red oak, plywood and laminate. Staff from Wilsonart in Temple taught students about adhesives and laminates for the project.

“This was a training situation and some students learned faster than others,” Russell said.

One of the students who worked on the project, Michael Shields, 34, of Waco, is scheduled to graduate in April with an Associate of Applied Science in Building Construction Technology. He said it was good experience undertaking construction procedures, from learning blueprints to installing the finished products.

“Building Construction Technology deals with a lot of the aspects of mathematics and being methodical,” Shields said. “The process is important to learn how to put things together.”

Students still need to replace some of the lab’s ceiling tiles. Russell said the room’s carpet could eventually be changed out.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Culinary Arts Watches Calendar for Winter Vegetables

(WACO) – The winter months mean an abundance of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and other vegetables for students to learn about in Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts programs.

Of Texas’ five growing zones, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, three include TSTC’s campuses. TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Abilene is in a zone stretching from the Red River to the Rio Grande. The technical college’s Culinary Arts programs in Waco and Williamson County are in a zone extending from the Rio Grande to the Houston coast. And, TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Harlingen is in a zone made up of the Rio Grande Valley.

TSTC students learn about the seasonality of vegetables in classes, said Aaron Guajardo, an instructor in the Culinary Arts program in Waco. He said paying attention to when vegetables are at their height of availability can mean more quantity and lower food and shipping costs.

“The flavors are going to be better because the conditions will be more favorable for them to grow,” Guajardo said.

Winter vegetables are those that are planted in the fall and early winter and are harvested before spring planting, said Colleen Foleen, a McLennan County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for family and community health.

“The roots and leafy greens are going to be the ones you are going to have,” Foleen said. “If you look when they are available at the stores it’s best from November to April. Things in season and grown fairly locally are going to have a higher nutrition value, will be cheaper and have no artificial means of sunlight to grow.”

Each of the state’s growing zones bring different soil, climates and planting schedules. For instance, beets can be planted about Aug. 15 in the Panhandle and as late as Dec. 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the extension service. The Ruby Queen and Detroit Dark Red beets are available in Texas from October to April as growing seasons move southward, according to the extension service and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Foleen said kale is currently being harvested and spinach and lettuce are growing well in McLennan County.

“It gets too hot here for most of the greens, but they will grow well in the wintertime,” she said. “We have a lot of vegetables that are winter that are considered spring and summer in other climates.”

Kayleen Mills, a Culinary Arts instructor at TSTC’s Abilene campus, uses celery and onions in stocks. Locally grown celery is available from December to April and onions can be planted in November and December in Central and South Texas with crops being available from March to August, according to the state extension service.

“It’s a huge money saver and time saver and it’s neat for the students to see it too,” Mills said. “Things like that do very well in the winter.”

Herbs are also available year-round throughout the state. Mills said she and other faculty members grow herbs in raised gardening boxes in the parking lot next to the T&P Depot in downtown Abilene.  

“The students see how intense the herbs are in flavor when you grow them versus purchasing them,” Mills said. “It’s a huge thing when you are manipulating recipes.”

Seeing when vegetables are in season helps with menu planning at TSTC’s student restaurants in Abilene, Harlingen and Waco.

“It comes down to how you get the best product at the end of the day,” Guajardo said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC HVAC Program Receives Equipment Donation

(RED OAK) – A Plano business recently donated more than $13,000 in Trane equipment to Texas State Technical College in North Texas.

TSTC’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program received five high-efficiency condensing units, five fan coils, two gas furnaces and an evaporator coil from Total Air & Heat Co.

Terry Robinson, a TSTC HVAC instructor with more than 20 years of industry teaching experience, said this was one of the largest equipment donations he has seen.

“The donated Trane equipment diversifies the equipment that students will work on as they install, maintain, troubleshoot and service in the HVAC training laboratory,” he said. “This is high-quality equipment with new technology that will enhance our students’ learning experiences.”

The family-owned company was founded in 1957 and provides residential and commercial boiler, heating and air conditioning installation and maintenance services in Collin and Dallas counties. The company has 45 employees.

“We stay active and keep in front of people, so we stay relevant for people to want to do business with us,” said Justin Lauten, a general manager at the business.

Lauten did not graduate from TSTC, but became familiar with the Red Oak campus when he took a statewide HVAC licensing preparation course from there.

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

To learn more about making a gift to Texas State Technical College, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Students Have Easier FAFSA Application Process

(WACO) – Students planning to attend Texas State Technical College in the fall now have access to an online tool to decrease errors when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The 2018-19 FAFSA includes an improved IRS Data Retrieval Tool, a feature that was not available starting in March because of security concerns surrounding financial aid availability for the 2017-18 academic year.

“It makes their process a lot easier if they can access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool,” said Jackie Adler, executive director of Financial Aid Administration at TSTC. “When they can do that, the income information pulls over from their income tax return onto the application and they don’t have to enter anything manually.”

Students started applying nationally for FAFSA in October using 2016 income tax returns.Adler said students are already being notified via email about financial aid awards for the fall.

In January, students will be able to submit financial aid paperwork through the technical college’s secure online portal instead of the present method of printing, mailing and hand-delivering, Adler said.

Adler said the U.S. Department of Education plans to unveil a FAFSA mobile app in 2018.

“Not only will students be able to access their information, but they can review their loans, see how much money they owe and make payments,” she said. “It will be like a one-stop shop for financial aid on the mobile app.”

Students can also look to scholarships, both in their technical programs and on TSTC’s 10 campuses, for extra financial help.

Karen Beach, director of donor retention for The TSTC Foundation, said students should complete a general scholarship application each semester to be eligible for scholarships that have money available.

The Snyder Helping Hands Scholarship is one of the general scholarships available to assist students with financial and life emergencies. Beach said students should go to their campus financial aid office to learn more about this and other scholarships.

A TSTC campus-specific scholarship recently received a boost with a contribution from its founder. The Rev. Earl Cantrelle of Longview gave $3,500 to the Clay Aaron Cantrelle Scholarship. The scholarship is named for Cantrelle’s grandson, a graduate of Marshall High School and TSTC, who died in a fire on May 8, 2010, at SSC Auto Center in Marshall. The younger Cantrelle had an associate degree in software engineering from TSTC.

Susan Wingate, assistant director of Financial Aid Administration at TSTC in Marshall, said only three students applied this year for the scholarship. The Cantrelle Scholarship is open to any major at TSTC in Marshall.

For more information on FAFSA, go to

For more information on financial aid at TSTC, go to


TSTC Welding Program Receives Donation

(MARSHALL) – The Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College recently received equipment from the family of a Hallsville resident.

The in-kind donation included three oxygen bottles, three acetylene bottles, three torch rigs, two cutting torch buggies, a toolbox, a welding machine and three worktables. The equipment was valued at $2,000, according to information from The TSTC Foundation.

The equipment belonged to Hallsville business owner Hugh Lee Morris II.  Morris, who was born in Cuero, died at age 86 on Aug. 26 in Longview.

“His daughter and son wanted to give back to the program by donating his equipment to the welding program in honor of their father so it could be used to let others learn about the welding trade,” said Daniel Nixon, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Aided Manufacturing program in Marshall.

Morris’ daughter, Rebecca Freer of Fort Worth, said her father took welding classes at the Marshall campus.

“He was kind of a pack rat,” she said. “We wanted to declutter. It was just faster and easier and much more beneficial to donate to some people who could use it than let it rust and sit there or try to sell it. Dad would have liked his welding equipment to be used to teach other welding people.”

Freer said her father made cattle guards, upright fence posts and horse wash stalls on his 32-acre property between Hallsville and Marshall.

“He loved doing it himself rather than hiring it to be done,” she said.

More than 50 students are enrolled during the fall semester in TSTC’s structural welding certificate program.

For more information on how to make a gift, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC in West Texas Holds Fall Commencement

(ABILENE) – More than 120 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2017 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 11, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Students from TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater took part in the ceremony.

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Arnulfo Leyva, 19, of Kermit earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He began work in the summer repairing bulldozers, backhoes and excavators at Warren CAT in Odessa.

Leyva was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He said his pride gave him motivation to work hard to become an honor graduate.

“It was fun at TSTC,” Leyva said. “I met new people and had a good time.”

Some graduates are preparing to job hunt.

Eric Collins, 25, a U.S. Air Force veteran, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aviation Technology. The Laurinburg, North Carolina, native and Abilene resident said he chose his major because of the work he did in the military.

Collins, a Phi Theta Kappa graduate, said he will take Federal Aviation Administration written and practical tests and apply for airplane maintenance jobs in the Abilene area.

Some graduates will continue on with academic work.

Karli Bernal, 26, of Anson graduated with a certificate in Vocational Nursing. She plans to work on her Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing in Sweetwater.

“It took a lot of dedication and sacrifice,” Bernal said about her studies at TSTC. “I have three kids so it takes a lot.”

For more information, log on to


TSTC Alumnus Gives Back with Financial Gift

(ROSENBERG) – Steve Hefner knew the time was right in his career to give a financial helping hand to students.

Earlier this year, Hefner donated $10,000 to the Texan Success Scholarship for students attending TSTC in Fort Bend County.

Hefner, senior vice president of construction at Camden Living in Houston and a graduate of Texas State Technical College in Waco, is familiar with the statistics: more than 1.1 million carpentry workers will be needed by 2026 and more than 27,000 brickmasons will be needed in the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roofers, managers, drywall and ceiling tile installers and others will also be needed in the construction field as workers retire in the upcoming years.

“You have less people wanting to get into our business and more people exiting,” said Hefner. “Tenacity and drive will always outshine people and a good work ethic is key. I have seen our generation change and the millennials today are different. They work smarter and multitask a little better.”

“We so appreciate our alumni giving back to our college,” said John Kennedy, a field development officer for The TSTC Foundation at TSTC in Fort Bend County. “Supporters such as Steve not only help our current and future students, but it shows how much they value the education they received at TSTC. Steve is a shining example of how one can be very successful as a result of the knowledge gained through technical education.”

Hefner hopes the money can help students whose financial means are not the most abundant.

“The thing I’m seeing today are the kids we are hiring have $100,000 debt at 6 percent interest,” he said. “They can’t get a break to get ahead.”

TSTC in Fort Bend County Provost Randall Wooten encouraged TSTC alumni to visit and see the technology that students work with.

“There are numerous TSTC alumni in the greater Houston area who are making a difference every day by applying their skills in a multitude of industries,” Wooten said.

Hefner grew up in Lubbock and briefly attended two universities before switching to TSTC in Waco.

“I could not find my way of what I wanted to do and my passion,” he said. “My dad was in banking and my family was in farming. I always had a passion and worked in the lumber industry and loved lumber.”

Hefner graduated in 1985 from TSTC in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology. He said it was a special time to be part of the program because of being able to travel with other students to competitions and the national construction industry boom in the 1980s.

“I remember the day I graduated I had 21 job offers and it was amazing,” said Hefner, a resident of Kingwood. “Luckily, I made a choice to do multifamily.”

Hefner has been at Camden Living for more than 20 years.

For more information on how to give to TSTC, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Holds Fall Commencement

(WACO) – More than 550 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2017 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 8, at the Waco Convention Center.

Students from TSTC’s campuses in Waco, North Texas and Williamson County took part in the ceremony. The Waco campus had 479 graduates, Williamson County had 46 graduates and North Texas had 27 graduates.

Many of the graduates already have jobs and are ready to work.

Anthony Warren, 22, of Gatesville graduated with a machining certificate. He has been working the last few months at Unique Machine Shop in Oglesby as a CNC operator/machinist.

During his time at TSTC, he had a son.

“I did what I set out to do and I will do what I need to do for me and my son,” Warren said. “If you pursue what you are good at, you will succeed.”

Some graduates are preparing to go to work.

Khadeeja Qurashi, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. living in Waco, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Laser Electro Optics. She will start in January her new job as a wafer fabrication technician at Texas Instruments in Dallas.

“I’ve made it,” Qurashi said. “It’s amazing and I’ve learned so much. I’m confident in my abilities and I get to show everyone that when I am walking across the stage to get my degree. TSTC was a learning experience, and it was more than math and science.”

For more information, log on to