Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC in Waco Holds Spring 2018 Commencement

(WACO) – More than 380 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2018 Commencement held Monday, April 30, at the Waco Convention Center.

For Daniel Follis, an instructor in the Cyber Security program, watching his students achieve their education goals does not get tiring to see. He estimated he has attended 18 TSTC commencement exercises.

“I make them a promise when they start that I will shake their hands when they walk across the stage,” Follis said.

Several of Friday’s graduates already have jobs.

Cynthia Martinez, 19, of Hutto received the Dental Assistant certificate. She is working to transition from clinical work to full-time employment at Little Hippos Pediatric Dentistry n Hutto.

“It feels good to actually have a job and have an opportunity to start in the workforce,” Martinez said. “It’s a little scary but being in clinicals got me used to it. I am more comfortable in Hutto.”

Sydney Vanwinkle, 23, of Waco was a Phi Theta Kappa graduate who received a Pharmacy Technician certificate. She will transition from clinical work at Drug Emporium on Bosque Boulevard to part-time employment as she starts an associate degree in accounting this summer at McLennan Community College.

Vanwinkle said she would miss her classmates.

Some graduates are considering job offers.

Jonah Swandt, 22, of Keller received the Associate of Applied Science degree in Robotics Technology. He had several relatives in attendance watching him walk across the stage.

Swandt said he enjoyed the hands-on learning and understanding how to make the transition from college to the workforce.

“I hope to make a decision on a job in a week or two,” he said.

After the commencement ceremony, Electrical Lineworker Technology graduate Jeff Montgomery, 24, proposed marriage to his longtime girlfriend, Leeann Roen. And, she said yes.

“It’s been five years,” he said. “We met in high school.”

Montgomery will be working for Pike Electric at Fort Hood.

Roen held back tears as she looked at her engagement ring.

“I’m overwhelmed and excited,” she said.

Earlier in the day, the Dental Assistant program held a Pinning Ceremony for graduates at the John B. Connally Technology Center.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

TSTC Students in Abilene to Receive Scholarships in New Programs

(ABILENE) – Students enrolling in three new technical programs this fall at Texas State Technical College in Abilene will receive a financial boost.

TSTC will give $1,000 scholarships to the first 20 students joining the Welding program and the first 40 students in both the Electrical Power and Controls and Industrial Maintenance programs.

“There are high-demand jobs in and around the area,” said Kimberly Porter, vice president of student recruitment at TSTC in Abilene. “For anyone in West Texas, they don’t have to go to the Metroplex for these industries.”

The technical programs will be taught in the Industrial Technology Center nearing completion on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport.

“I just think it is exciting because it is making a bigger footprint in Abilene,” Porter said. “The community is super-excited to have us here. It is a way for the students to stay closer to home and contribute to their local economy.”

Students must be enrolled by July 20 to get on the scholarship list. Once fully enrolled, a TSTC admissions or recruiting staff member will contact students letting them know about the money they will receive, Porter said. Students who receive the scholarship do not need to be Pell Grant eligible. The money can only be used only for the fall 2018 semester.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in West Texas, said the scholarships are aimed at breaking down enrollment barriers.

“There is no question that the scholarship money will help the students,” he said. “We have three new programs that we have not offered before in Abilene. This reiterates the college’s commitment to helping the new campus start off real strong.”

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

 

TSTC Holds Spring 2018 Commencement in Abilene

(ABILENE) – More than 80 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2018 Commencement held Friday, April 27, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, began the ceremony with a tribute to TSTC President Emeritus Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater, who died earlier in the day at age 83.

“He would be extremely happy for you to celebrate the success of the students,” Denbow told the audience.

Texas Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, was the keynote speaker. He told those gathered about his first job as a 9-year-old washing windshields at his father’s full-service filling station. He said it was a great experience in public relations.

“You can’t replace kindness in the world,” Lambert said.

Lambert said for graduates to be successful, they need to do four things: have something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for.

“What do you hope is the next chapter in life?” Lambert asked the graduates.

Lambert advised graduates to be honest, read the Bible, do the right things in life, have a good attitude and not to hold grudges.

“It’s important at this time to have a positive attitude,” he said.

Lambert said he admired how West Texas residents came together for the TSTC in Sweetwater students affected by the Bluebonnet Inn dormitory fire earlier this year.

Several of Friday’s graduates already have jobs.

Johnathan McCarthy, 28, of Abilene graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology. He is already working as a wind technician at Invenergy LLC in Nolan.

“I got out of the Marine Corps and needed an exciting job that is stable,” McCarthy said. “Wind Energy Technology was new and different, but I knew I could do it.”

Some graduates are job searching.

Cameron Hartgraves, 26, of Abilene was a Phi Theta Kappa graduate who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. He wants to stay in the area for employment.

But, this was not Hartgraves’ first college graduation. He already has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hardin-Simmons University.

“I more or less figured out that I could fix computers better than people,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the ADN Pinning Ceremony for TSTC in Sweetwater nursing graduates took place at an Abilene church.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

 

Taylor Remembered for Bringing Higher Education to Nolan County

(SWEETWATER) – Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater left a legacy not only at Texas State Technical College, but also throughout Nolan County.

Taylor, who died today at age 83, is being remembered for his lasting contributions and many years of service to TSTC.

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser commented on Taylor’s enduring importance to the college.

“Homer Taylor served our college for close to 30 years, and it’s impossible to overstate the impact he had on our successes. We owe much of our prosperity to his leadership,” Reeser said. “On behalf of the entire TSTC family, I offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Beth, his children, and the Taylor family.”

Glen Bedgood, a professional development officer at TSTC in Sweetwater, noted Taylor’s foresight when it came to matching education with industry needs.

“Homer was a visionary in many respects,” Bedgood said. “He was well ahead of the wind industry in West Texas, implementing a wind energy technician program at TSTC in concert with the construction of the first turbines in the area. Graduates of the training program have enjoyed a high placement rate for years.”

Taylor worked for TSTC from 1970 until his retirement in 2005. During that time, he was an assistant campus manager, manager of instruction, dean of instruction, manager of development, college president and vice chancellor of the TSTC system. The TSTC Board of Regents later gave him the elite distinction of naming him president emeritus.

“Homer was always thinking about growing the impact of TSTC,” Bedgood said. “Any time that I traveled with him, he would leave his business card with everyone he met, telling them that they owed it to themselves or their kids or friends to look into TSTC as a life-changing investment.”

Bedgood recalled that some of his earliest memories of Taylor were of greeting him at church on Sunday mornings.

“I listened to him pray and teach Sunday school,” he said. “He was investing in me. Years later, he hired me, or at least suggested that I apply for an opening at the college, and continued to invest in me as an employee. When I started my family and was trying to make a little extra money on the side, he would buy my artwork.”

Among the many people on whom Taylor made a positive impact is Maria Aguirre, TSTC interim senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services.

“I met Mr. Taylor in early summer 1984,” said Aguirre. “I attended what was then TSTI, and shortly after I arrived, Mr. Taylor hired me as a PBX operator. After graduation, he encouraged me to apply for a Student Recruitment position, and through the years he promoted me to other positions within the college. Long story short, nearly 34 years later, I am still very proud to be part of TSTC. He was a true mentor, teacher and friend. I will miss him dearly.”

Taylor taught high school in Jayton and Sweetwater for 11 years.

“Homer was my high school English teacher,” said J.V. Martin, a former member of the TSTC Board of Regents and a founding board member of the Nolan County Foundation. “Homer was very close to me. He was a student’s ideal teacher as far as his personality. He was young enough at that time. He was not much older than the students. It was like having a student-teacher teaching you.”

Taylor was public relations director for Sweetwater Public Schools (now Sweetwater Independent School District) when he was asked to serve on the Sweetwater Study and Survey Committee for the Utilization of Air Base Facilities, which formed when the Sweetwater Air Force Radar Station was deactivated in fall 1969, according to TSTC historical accounts.

A group of committee members met with Dr. Roy Dugger, then vice president of Texas A&M University and director of the James Connally Technical Institute (now TSTC) in Waco, about opening a technical campus on the grounds of the former radar station.

Taylor’s first role at the Sweetwater facility of the Texas State Technical Institute was as an assistant manager starting in 1970. He, along with D.A. Pevehouse, facility manager, and two office employees, worked in the old Texas Bank Building in Sweetwater. Taylor saw the campus later become the Rolling Plains Campus of TSTI and Texas State Technical College West Texas.

“He was always so friendly and talking to everybody and anybody that was here on campus,” said Lupe Deloera, a human resources senior specialist at TSTC in Sweetwater. “He was such a smart guy and always had his door open if we had any questions. We felt like we could ask him anything. We felt so comfortable around him.”

TSTC in Sweetwater honored Taylor in 2006 by renaming College Drive as Homer K. Taylor Drive.

“He followed my career and has been an encouragement to me long after his retirement,” Bedgood said. “I get to remember him every day as I turn onto Homer K. Taylor Drive heading to my office at TSTC.”

After his retirement, Taylor helped create the Nolan County Foundation, which has given about $300,000 to Nolan County students attending Texas colleges. The foundation has also supported Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium, Martin said.

Taylor earned an associate degree from Cisco Junior College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in education and English and a Master of Education degree from Hardin-Simmons University.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Hardin-Simmons University in 2011.

TSTC in Waco Student Constructing Her Future in New Career Field

(WACO) – Graduation can be a stressful time, but Texas State Technical College Building Construction Technology student Courtney Seelhorst of Plano is a pro.

“It’s a little weird when people remind me that I already have two degrees, but this one is just as cool, if not cooler,” said Seelhorst. “And I’m going to be doing something I really like.”

Seelhorst is a candidate for graduation for the Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology at TSTC’s Spring 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 30, at the Waco Convention Center. TSTC will grant more than 380 associate degrees and certificates to graduates.

According to the National Association of Women in Construction, approximately 939,000 women were employed in various occupation sectors of the construction industry. Women now make up 9.1 percent of the construction industry in the United States.

“This industry is changing and growing. You’re starting to see more women involved.” Seelhorst said. “As long as you show up, work hard and don’t be afraid to ask questions, anyone can do it and be successful and respected.”

Seelhorst’s goal is to be a project manager for commercial construction projects. She has been sifting through job offers, with one in San Antonio standing out.

“Most people think residential and that would be fun, but I love the idea of doing big stuff and working with various fields and being more creative with it,” she said.

Seelhorst has donned the collegiate cap and gown before.

She decided after earning her bachelor’s degree in Health Science Studies and master’s degree in Sport Management from Baylor University that she wanted to change course.

“I knew I wanted to work with my hands but I didn’t know how to do anything, anything at all,” said Seelhorst. “So I figured I should go to school and learn and TSTC is right here in Waco and its reputation speaks for itself.”

After graduating from Baylor with her second degree in 2013, Seelhorst worked with a soft tissue rehab company for a little more than three years.

“I enjoyed it but it got kind of boring. While I loved helping people, I realized this was not my forever,” said Seelhorst.

About that time, the gym Seelhorst worked out at was moving and constructing a new facility.

“I was helping them and I realized that I really liked seeing all these pieces come together from the ground up; seeing nothing become something,” she said. “It’s creative and there’s collaboration with all the different fields and it’s a really awesome feeling to create.”

The leap from the medical field to construction caught no one more off guard than Seelhorst’s mom.

“My mom thought I was crazy when I first told her, but after I explained what I wanted to do and why, she supported me fully,” said Seelhorst. “She’s always been really supportive of me in everything I do.”

Seelhorst will leave the program with the respect of her classmates and instructors.

“She’s a great student and a hard worker. I know she’s got several companies interested in her and they should be,” said Michael Carrillo, an instructor in the Building Construction Technology program.

For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

 

Waco School Offering Internship Opportunities for TSTC Technology Students

(WACO) – Four Texas State Technical College in Waco students working as interns at St. Paul’s Episcopal School on Columbus Avenue ensure nothing disrupts their students’ education.

“They are our Information Technology department,” said Head of School M’Lissa Howen. “They keep us going so the kids can learn.”

Technology is a vital part of education today, but if the system goes down, it can bring a halt to education. For the past semester, the interns have worked to guarantee teachers and students at St. Paul’s have the fastest and most secure software and hardware.

“They do everything from installing the new server to moving the computer lab for us and helping us troubleshoot daily problems,” said Deborah Bennett, assistant head of school. “The other day they even caught a security breach and fixed that quickly,”

TSTC and St. Paul’s have worked together for the past five years. The internship is unpaid but provides students an opportunity to earn real world experience.

“It’s amazing for these students to have practical real world training before they graduate. They can learn these skills in lab, but out there, you’ve got the teachers and students relying on you to do your job. It gives them a new sense of priority and urgency,” said John Washington, an associate professor in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at TSTC.

Chad Vana, a Cyber Security and Digital Forensics major set to graduate in December, said the internship helped him to grow in his abilities and provided valuable professional experience.

“This is a career change for me and after I lost my left eye, I worried about what I would do but this job doesn’t give me any trouble with depth perception and is something I thoroughly enjoy,” Vana said. “To a student this opportunity is amazing, because it may not pay now but it will in the future.”

The interns work a minimum of 15 hours a week and serve as representatives for the IT department during school board meetings.

“When we have our board meetings and the head of the Technology Committee has questions, it’s great to have the interns serve as representatives because they can answer any questions and provide reassurance.” said Howen.

For many of the interns, it is a career change and an opportunity for hands-on learning in the classroom. Working in a professional environment also sold them on selecting TSTC.

“I already had a degree, but TSTC offers something special that I’m interested in that you don’t see many schools offering,” said Roy Gordon, a CNSA major. “I mean, you get hands-on training, work experience and you’re out in two years.”

As these interns graduate, St. Paul’s will look for more students interested in interning and welcomes students to apply, but they should be prepared to fill big shoes.

“Every student we get from TSTC is amazing, but this group has just raised the bar even higher,” said Howen. “They are passionate and proactive and professional and we have been very blessed.”

For more information about St. Paul’s Episcopal, go to speswaco.org.

For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC in West Texas Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference

(SWEETWATER) – Kacee Merrifield knows how to be twice as nice when it comes to winning.

Merrifield, 30, a Vocational Nursing major at Texas State Technical College in Breckenridge, won her second consecutive gold medal in Nurse Assisting at the SkillsUSA Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held April 5-7 in Waco.

“Honestly, to get gold two years in a row is awesome,” said Merrifield, a Mineral Wells native now living in Breckenridge. “I never thought I would get it once, much less twice. It’s a great confidence booster. And, it pushes you to want to be better in your skill and trade.”

TSTC in Breckenridge won two gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals at the state conference.TSTC in Brownwood received one gold medal and three silver medals.  TSTC in Sweetwater captured six gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal. TSTC in Abilene also participated in Culinary Arts but did not finish in the top three.

Gold medalists are now eligible to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Last year the state and nationals were life changing,” Merrifield said. “At each level, you have the opportunity to meet people from all different places and make new friends.”

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, said it was an honor to have so many students traveling to the national conference.

“It speaks to the quality of our instructors and making sure the students are successful,” he said.

Ashley Schroeder, 26, a TSTC in Sweetwater Nursing major from Llano now living in Abilene, was excited about her gold medal in Medical Assisting.

“I feel honored to have had the opportunity to participate in SkillsUSA and to compete with members from West Texas,” she said. “Never did I expect to have come away with a gold medal.”

Schroeder is already thinking about her trip to Kentucky.

“I am so excited about going to Louisville and competing,” she said. “For nationals, studying has already begun. I plan to go into it as prepared and ready as possible.”

Other gold medalists from the West Texas campuses are:

TSTC in Breckenridge: Medical Math: Corbin Calsoncin

TSTC in Brownwood: Technical Computer Applications: Alexander Oldham

TSTC in Sweetwater: First Aid-CPR: Ryan Ostrander; Health Knowledge Bowl: Priscilla Green, Erica Jones, Brittney Rivera, Christa Valdivia

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

 

TSTC Educating Students About Green Construction

(WACO) – “Going green” also means “making green” for many involved in the construction industry, and students at Texas State Technical College in Waco can choose from several eco-friendly technologies that could lead to lucrative jobs.

TSTC integrates green building construction into its Building Construction Technology associate degree and Building Construction Craftsman certification. Students can also earn an associate degree in Solar Energy Technology or a certification as an Energy Efficiency Specialist.

“We look at various ‘green conscious methods’ from water conservation and reuse, to how to frame a home efficiently, to using less materials, to understanding the total cost of using local material and what that translates to financially,” TSTC Energy Efficiency Specialist instructor Tony Chaffin said.

By the beginning of this year, green construction was expected to have created 1.1 million jobs and supplied $75.6 billion in wages in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The new energy and building codes are requiring us to step up our game, so it’s vital that we start feeding people into the industry that know the most efficient and sustainable and financially smart ways to build and inspect buildings,” Chaffin said.

TSTC building construction students learn from the ground up ways to build sustainable and efficient residential and commercial properties.

“Green building is a completely alternative way of building things. We talk about the weird stuff like straw-bale construction and adobe building and earth-bag construction — all of the out-of-the-norm building methods to create a more efficient construction,” Chaffin said.

In addition to alternative construction methods, Solar Energy Technology students discover alternative energy resources in their studies.

“Solar has been established as an alternative energy for a while. But it is now becoming a very realistic option that people are switching to, and it’s creating a large job market,” said TSTC Solar Energy Technology instructor High Whitted.

In studying solar technology, students become familiar with the electrical components of solar panels to make them competitive in the electrical field as well.

“The solar field is so heavily electrical that we make sure that when our students leave, they have the solar and the electrical knowledge to make them more valuable than the person who can just install the solar panels,” Whitted said.

Along with solar, students explore energy resources like wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and natural gas.

“We create well-rounded students that get the whole package. They can talk to the customer and explain it in layman’s terms and also work with the technicians and fellow builders or do the inspections,” Chaffin said.  

The construction industry remains competitive, but instructors notice that graduates with a “green background” are becoming more valuable to employers.

“I’ve had several students come back and say that when they mention in their interviews that they have this knowledge and certification, their employers are thrilled. It makes them so much more marketable,” Chaffin said.

In an electric world, keeping the lights on while balancing resources the planet has to offer is an ongoing concern. Students with knowledge of green construction are leading the way to building a brighter future.

“Energy is expensive, and it’s only going to get more expensive. So, if we can make our resources last longer by requiring less of them and make sure our students are prepared to use these materials, we’re moving in the right direction,” Chaffin said.

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

 

 

TSTC in Waco Earns Gold Medals at State SkillsUSA Postsecondary Conference

(WACO) – Cody Scheffe, 21, a student in Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology program, figured he would be up for the challenge.

And, he was correct.

Scheffe won the gold medal in Carpentry at the SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held April 5-7 at TSTC in Waco.

“Mr. (Michael) Carrillo (a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor) started talking about SkillsUSA, and it sounded like a good opportunity,” said Scheffe of Windthorst, Texas. “I opted in. I didn’t believe it when my name was called.”

Texas State Technical College in Waco won 24 gold medals, 15 silver medals and nine bronze medals.

“As has been the case for the past couple of years, TSTC in Waco had a very good showing, bringing home the most medals from the conference,” said James Matus, TSTC’s SkillsUSA manager. “I hope that momentum will carry over to nationals like it did last year for them.”

While some students will return to the national competition in June, others will make their debuts.

Cici Bunting, 19, is a second-semester Culinary Arts major from La Porte who won the gold medal in Commercial Baking.

“I was very surprised,” she said about winning. “Chef Gayle Van Sant had to push me out in the aisle to get my medal.”

Bunting made French bread, an empty pie shell, a apple pie, decorated a premade cake and made other treats in a six-hour span. She practiced with Van Sant and Chef Paul Porras, also in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, to improve her skills.

Gabriella Romero, 20, of Red Oak placed first in Advertising Design. The Visual Communication Technology major could not attend the awards ceremony, so she received the news of her win through a group text.

“I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” Romero said. “It was a shock and so unreal.”

Romero worked with Visual Communication Technology instructors Stacie Buterbaugh and Jennifer Piper to perfect her design portfolio.

“They pushed me to do my hardest and helped me to get my point across to the consumer in my designs,” Romero said.

Romero will be pushed even more in her skills up until the national conference because she will have to learn how to do designs on a personal computer – the Visual Communication Technology program uses Apple computers – and also how to use InDesign.

“I’m happy I get the opportunity to show people my skills,” she said.

Gold medalists are eligible to compete at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I think it makes a statement about the technical college and what we can put forward,” Scheffe said.

Other gold medalists from TSTC in Waco are:

Architectural Drafting: Oscar Luna

Auto Refinishing: Hector Corujo

Cabinetmaking: Timothy Watkins

Computer Programming: Jeremiah Stones

Diesel Equipment: Mark Schimank

Collision Repair Technology: Juan Alcala

Electrical Construction Wiring: Dykota Smith

Information Technology Services: Cameron Westerfield

Interactive Application and Video Game Creation: Dylan Borg and Travis Pitrucha

Job Skill Demonstration Open: Jondaria Maxey

Pin Design: David Ijegbulem

Plumbing: Jude Gonzales

Related Technical Math: Vicky Lackey

Residential Systems Installation and Maintenance: Rickie Hartfield

T-Shirt: David Ijegbulem

Teamworks: William Chance, Ricardo Delgado, Joseph Hermann, Andres Zapata

Technical Drafting: Larry Cipriano

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

 

New Industrial Maintenance Program at TSTC to Fill a Need for West Texas

(ABILENE) – Some of the most sizzling careers right now in West Texas are in the industrial maintenance field, and Texas State Technical College is poised to fill the need.

TSTC in Abilene will offer the new Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization at the Industrial Technology Center opening this fall on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport. Students will learn about electrical theory, industrial maintenance, blueprint reading, hydraulics, pneumatics and other topics in the heavily hands-on program.

Shea Hopkins, director of talent management at the Abilene Industrial Foundation, recently took a tour of the ITC.

“It was looking good,” she said. “I think it’s exciting to have something like this in Abilene, and I think the students will be excited about it.”

Hopkins said one of the first questions prospective companies ask is if skilled labor can be found to fill available positions.

“What I like about industrial maintenance is it is the most comprehensive,” Hopkins said. “It gives the students a little bit of everything. It is not as specific as some of the other degrees. It makes for well-rounded employees, and the companies can use them for a lot of different jobs so they can use those skills.”

Graduates can use the associate degree to become millwrights, industrial motor control technicians, and electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

Electro-mechanical technicians and industrial maintenance mechanics are considered in-demand occupations in the region, according to Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas.

Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions, said there are more than 800 job openings now in the wind farm, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors in Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties for installation, repair and maintenance. The number can shift almost daily as hiring is done and jobs are open.

Collins said TSTC’s Industrial Maintenance program will be helpful to fill employment needs.

“The more education you can get, the better qualified you are,” he said.

Joe Tiner, chief engineer at Texas Healthcare Linen in Abilene, said he needs maintenance technicians who can read blueprints and troubleshoot electrical problems quickly and know how to fix machinery. He said it was great that students will get to study Industrial Maintenance in Abilene.

“Those are the guys that TSTC will produce and give them a baseline of what they need to do once they are in the field,” he said. “That is how I learned.”

The high-tech laundry company works with hospitals in Abilene and throughout West Texas to clean their 14 million pounds of laundry per year.

“We work long shifts, five days a week, and are at only about 50 percent of our capacity,” Tiner said. “We have been growing.”

The new Industrial Maintenance program has also piqued the interest of area companies.

Acme Brick, based in Fort Worth, has a production plant in Lubbock and retail brick, tile and stone stores in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and San Angelo.

“That would be a nice place to look,” Yulonda Charles, Acme Brick’s human resources manager, said about TSTC in Abilene. “I do partner with TSTC on most of their campuses. We are looking for trainees coming out of TSTC, but they need to be open to moving where we have a plant.”

West Texas Industrial Engines Inc. in San Angelo specializes in engine overhauls, field services, machine shop services and other work for the oil and gas field.

“The problem with filling jobs is San Angelo’s unemployment rate is less than 3 percent, so our opportunities to fill positions in the industrial field are very limited,” said C. Alan McClain, the company’s president and chief executive officer and a TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus.

He said it was exciting that TSTC in Abilene was expanding its technical offerings with the Industrial Maintenance program.

“I think it will be outstanding,” McClain said. “Anything we can do to help get people in the skilled trades and get them an education and place them in skilled trade jobs would be great.”

The Industrial Maintenance program will be offered in Abilene pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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