Author Archives: Daniel Perry

New Online Bookstore Debuts at TSTC’s Campuses in North Texas and Fort Bend County

(RED OAK) – A new online bookstore for Texas State Technical College’s North Texas and Fort Bend County campuses opened earlier this month.

This marks the first time students will have direct access to buy textbooks and not have to order from other campuses.

“This is huge for us,” said Stephen Pape, director of student learning at TSTC in North Texas. “It enables the students to get their books early so they don’t have to wait. The online bookstore gives them a choice of shipping to their home or to the campus where they can be picked up.”

Current and newly registered students can access the bookstore through the technical college’s internal portal. The first visit will enable the student to input their identification number and create a password for later visits.

“The bookstore will recognize them as students and check their schedule for the classes they signed up for,” said Pape. “The bookstore will know what books they need when they log in. The students can order books or they can check the prices for books.”

The online bookstore will give students information on how much of their financial aid money is available to spend on textbooks and automatically deduct it.

Students at the Fort Bend County campus will follow the same steps to access and purchase from the online bookstore. Arturo Solano, bookstore manager at TSTC in Harlingen, worked on planning Fort Bend County’s online offering and said the technical college is adapting to the latest trends in providing sourced materials for students.

“TSTC partnered with Ambassador Education Solutions, which will be distributing all the required course materials straight from their warehouse while at the same time providing students with a custom website tailored to their campus,” Solano said.

Planning for the new initiative began a year ago with financial aid, bookstore, information technology and student learning staff on multiple campuses working together.

“The major reason for the online store was to provide better service to the students,” said Greg Guercio, vice president of retail operations at TSTC in Waco.

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Area Technology Consortium Gives to TSTC Scholarship

(WACO) – The Central Texas Education Network, a regional technology consortium that included school districts, hospitals, libraries and Texas State Technical College, recently donated $93,000 to the Lynn R. Francis Memorial Scholarship.

CTEN, which was created in 1994, is disbanding and used remaining operating funds to make the gift to the longtime TSTC scholarship.

“Connectivity could not have helped without TSTC and Lynn,” said Marlene Zipperlen, CTEN’s chairwoman. “It was a collaboration when there weren’t a lot of collaborations going on.”

The scholarship honors the life of Lynn R. Francis, TSTC’s director of network services, who died in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 25, 2001. The scholarship will be available for awarding in fall 2018 for graduating high school seniors in the Axtell, Bruceville-Eddy, Cameron, China Spring, Gholson, Itasca, Mexia and West school districts planning to attend TSTC in Waco, said Karen Beach, director of donor retention for The TSTC Foundation. Students whose parents work for the Hillcrest Baylor Scott and White Hospital, Falls Community Hospital, the Waco-McLennan County Library and the Hillsboro City Library are also eligible, according to information from The TSTC Foundation.

Francis was instrumental in developing the technical college’s networks for interactive video, telephones and fiber-optic campus data.

“In the early ‘90s, then-president Don Goodwin called on Lynn Francis, the CMT (Computer Maintenance Technology) graduate and instructor, to develop the TSTC computer network to create a unified system to replace the piecemeal chaos that separated campus PCs,” according to the March 15, 2001 edition of the Tech Times.

Francis grew up during TSTC’s early days as the James Connally Technical Institute as his parents were part of the faculty. He received an associate degree in computer maintenance technology from Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC) in 1987.

Francis was an avid motorcyclist.

“From bikes to bikers, and everyone in between, the people who will miss the soft-spoken, Harley-riding TSTC instructor and director spread from Waco to Denver, Little Rock to San Francisco … and beyond,” according to the Tech Times.

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Detention Training Officer Follows Technology Curiosity to Pursue TSTC Degree

(RED OAK) – April Smith of Wylie credits actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie for inspiring her to study cyber security.

Smith said as a teenager she watched “Hackers,” a 1995 movie starring Jolie in which the main characters create a technological virus and hack into computer systems.

“I chose cyber security because I have always been intrigued by the ability of technology,” said Smith, 36. “I was in awe of the movie. Computers, video games and art are all of my passions and technology rolls them all into one.”

Smith took her passion and used it to work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security at Texas State Technical College in North Texas in Red Oak. She is a candidate to receive the degree at TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement on Aug. 18 in Waco.

“In some of my classes I was the only female, but that didn’t prevent the camaraderie of us pulling together and learning,” Smith said.

Smith’s academic work also earned her the Provost’s Award.

“I was blown away and felt so much gratitude,” she said. “I was floored really and so happy that I could share the surprise with my family, who have supported me throughout it all. My hard work and dedication paid off and I am still in the clouds about it all.”

TSTC Provost Marcus Balch said he selected Smith because she attended classes and works at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department as a detention training officer. She has been at the sheriff’s department for a decade.

“Her job doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility, yet she has overcome the odds,” Balch said. “She also has a positive outlook and is excited about the possibilities that the future holds for her. She is just a good solid example of a hard-working TSTC student.”

Besides her work schedule and balancing her study and family time, Smith said her other challenges involved her parents each dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“It was difficult not knowing the outcome of their situations while attending classes,” she said. “Thankfully, they were stronger than the disease and are here with me now to celebrate.”

Smith recommended that females interested in technology pursue cyber security.

“Allow your dreams to become reality and make a mark on the world,” she said. “Explore all possibilities and interests. Everyone has something to offer, and that one thing may change everything about technology.”

Smith grew up in Wilmot, Arkansas, and graduated in 1999 from Hamburg High School in Hamburg, Arkansas.

She was in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Mississippi and Germany.

Smith plans to study information technology after graduating from TSTC.

“I hope my career in information technology allows me to find a great company to work for so that I can grow as an individual and a colleague,” she said.

TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement will include graduates from the North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the Waco Convention Center at 100 Washington Ave.

For more information about TSTC’s statewide commencement ceremonies, go to

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California Native Meets Design Challenges at TSTC

(WACO) – Marykate Danielson of Hewitt continues to California dream and learn to be a Texan who can write code and create websites.

“If you are good at technology, stay in it,” she said.

Danielson, 24, is a candidate for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Web Design and Development Technology at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2017 Commencement on Aug. 18 in Waco. She is one of three students in the program graduating this summer.

“It was super eye-opening and kind of fun,” Danielson said about her time at TSTC. “I wasn’t that overwhelmed at first, then the second semester hit.”

Her instructor, Matt Blansit, said he could see Danielson someday owning her own design and development business.

“She’s very headstrong in what she wants to do,” he said. “When she gets her mind onto things, she achieves the goals. She is not afraid to go above and beyond for others.”

She worked part time at a Waco hotel as she took classes and studied.

“It was hard and really tiring,” Danielson said.

Danielson grew up in California and graduated in 2010 from Granite Hills High School in Porterville, Calif. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014.

Danielson said she chose to study history because she had a dream of going into the U.S. Air Force. She also met her husband, an electrical engineer, who got a job at L3 Technologies Inc. in Waco, which brought the couple to Texas.

Danielson decided to go back to college because she needed to do more with her career. She credits her husband with suggesting web design as a potential career.

“I was working an administrative job and not having fun,” she said. “I felt like I was not using my creative side.”

Danielson said after graduation she will continue job searching in cities along the Interstate 35 corridor from Austin to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Texas had more than 8,500 web design jobs, with the Waco area having 70 of those positions as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement will include graduates from the North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the Waco Convention Center at 100 Washington Ave.

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TSTC Honored with Regional Economic Development Award

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College in Waco was recently recognized regionally for being a shining star in economic development.

The technical college received the Star of the Southwest Award at the 2017 Southwest Region Executive Directors Association (SWREDA) Annual Conference in late July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The organization is made up of economic development representatives from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Staff at the Heart of Texas Council of Governments Economic Development District in Waco nominated the technical college for utilizing $1.5 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding to help construct the James T. Connally Aerospace Center. The building was dedicated in May 2012.

“I think the significance of the award is to recognize the high quality programs that represent TSTC,” said Russell Devorsky, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments.

TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison traveled to Louisiana to accept the award. While attending the conference, he networked with attendees and talked about the value of two-year colleges to economic development and job training.

“TSTC is all about economic development,” Hutchison said. “We are a public institution with economic development in its mission. We are funded through the state based on economic impact through our students.”

The aerospace building is named for Col. James T. Connally, a U.S. Army air corpsman who died May 29, 1945, during a raid over Yokohama, Japan. The structure is on the site of the former operations base for Waco Army Air Field, which became James Connally Air Force Base and is now the site of for Texas State Technical College.

TSTC provided $8.6 million in bonds and airport funds for the project with other financial help from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, Bellmead Economic Development Corporation and the Texas Department of Transportation, according to SWREDA and the May, 4, 2012 edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The 82,000-square-foot structure houses TSTC’s Air Traffic Controller, Aircraft Airframe Technician, Aircraft Dispatch Technology, Aircraft Pilot Training Technology, Aircraft Powerplant Technology and Avionics Technology programs. More than 3,000 students have taken classes and trained at the center since its opening, according to SWREDA.

Devorsky said the award was great exposure for the technical college beyond Texas’ borders.

“I had several individuals ask for contact information because they had relatives or knew people interested in aviation training,” he said.

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Lorena Student at TSTC Looking Ahead to Machining Career

(WACO) – Sam Aguirre of Lorena does not want to waste time getting into his chosen career field.

“I want the experience of being able to become a toolmaker,” said Aguirre, a Machining certificate student in the Precision Machining Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Aguirre, 20, said his favorite aspect of the certificate program has been working on grinding and computer numerical control machines.

“With this career there are endless opportunities to move up and there is the job security,” he said.

Though he is scheduled to graduate in December, he has already gotten interest from at least one central Texas business.

“We get calls from companies in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin,” said Kacey Darnell, executive director of TSTC’s Career Services and Talent Management. “They have a need for precision machining graduates. It’s a skilled trade. A lot of times they have hired a student from here and it has worked out well.”

Texas had at least 26,000 machinists as of May 2016, with the largest concentration in The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Waco area had at least 200 machining jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that there will be at least 438,000 machining jobs in the United States by 2024.

Aguirre graduated in 2015 from Bruceville-Eddy High School, where he showed cattle as an FFA member and learned basic welding skills.

He started at another college as a physical therapy major and said he became fascinated with surgical equipment and how prosthetics were made. But he changed his mind and switched colleges and majors to pursue what he enjoyed.

“I thought that it would be a cool hands-on trade,” Aguirre said about machining.

Aguirre enrolled in fall 2016 at TSTC. He is keeping TSTC in the family – his mother studied in the Dental Assistant program on the Waco campus.

“A lot of the stuff they teach in high school is theory, but what they teach at TSTC is practical,” he said.

When he is not studying or working, Aguirre likes fishing and spending time with his fiancee.

The Precision Machining Technology program is offered at the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Williamson County campuses.

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TSTC Alumnus Designing His Career

(WACO) – Nathanael Hamilton of Longview works daily with visual appeal.

Hamilton, 28, is a customer service representative working with vending machine inventory at the Airgas Store in Longview. He sets up hardware and software for 11 vending machines filled with protective equipment and welding supplies. Hamilton also does technical support on the machines.

“Customer service skills help me to network with people while the hands-on experiences help me enjoy my work,” he said.

But Hamilton studied a different side of design – Digital Media Design – when he was a student at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He graduated in 2012 with the program’s associate degree. Digital Media Design graduates use customer service skills to work alongside clients and companies to analyze and research targeted audiences for graphics, logos, fonts and other aspects of design.

Hamilton said his workdays start at his desk, where he checks emails and gathers items for vending machines. Most of his work is done at businesses that have accounts with Airgas.

“He’s a critical part of the team,” said Jeffrey White, an Airgas account manager. “Right now he’s our only vending solutions guy in Longview. He fills the machines, troubleshoots them, and if there’s anything wrong, he helps us with those. Our service area goes from Longview to Tyler to the Louisiana border.”

Hamilton grew up in DeKalb in Bowie County and had what became a lifelong interest in creative mediums, like animation.

“I have always been fascinated with the idea of creating something that people enjoy, such as video games and films,” he said. “Some people read books for stories, but I watch films and play video games that are story-driven because I am a visual person.”

Hamilton graduated in 2007 from DeKalb High School.

“When I was in high school, I was in charge of a novel video yearbook that encompassed elementary, middle and high school images set to music,” he said. “Being able to be responsible for different stages of media translates into my current job by allowing me to multitask.”

He said in the future he wants to take the skills he has learned at Airgas and design video games and films.

“Don’t be afraid to learn things that are outside your degree plan because you never know when it may come in handy,” Hamilton said. “I have also learned basic welding skills, computer science basics and some painting skills.”

Though the associate degree program in Digital Media Design is no longer offered at the Waco campus, it is offered at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses. For more information on the program, go to

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Robotics Technology Gives TSTC Student a Pathway Toward Graduation

(WACO) – Jonathan Ramsey thought it would be a good idea to take time off after his 2012 graduation from The Colony High School in Denton County.

Thinking back, he said it was not the best decision he ever made.

“If you just want to take a break, you are going to waste your time,” Ramsey said. “You have to better yourself.”

He began classes in fall 2014 at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

“I finally came down here to be serious,” said Ramsey, 24.

Ramsey is a candidate for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Robotics Technology at TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement on Aug. 18 in Waco.

“It’s a long time coming and it means moving on to bigger and better things,” he said.

Ramsey works with the program’s robots several times a week. He has come to enjoy the motor controls and troubleshooting aspects of robotics technology.

“Jonathan’s work ethic is one of the most impressive things I’ve observed since I’ve been his instructor,” said Brandon McMahan, a TSTC Robotics Technology instructor. “We know he works late nights as a server and bartender at a restaurant, but he never misses class and never uses that as an excuse. The level of his work has really improved because he comes to school with a great attitude and focuses on improving his techniques. We often use his work as an example when we show the lab to potential employers.”

While at TSTC, Ramsey discovered Cameron Park along the Brazos River. He said he likes exploring the trails and sitting at his favorite spot in the park overlooking the river while reading the Bible and drinking coffee.

Ramsey said The Colony was a good family-oriented place in which to grow up. He, like others in his generation, grew up with technology.

“When I was eight, I had my own computer,” he said. “I took it apart and fixed it so many times.”

He began playing guitar in 2008 after his grandmother gave him one as a gift.

“When I was growing up, I went to a small private school for a bit,” Ramsey said. “I sang in the chorus and learned how to read music. When I went to middle school, I learned how to play the tuba. Music is my stress relief.”

He got involved in Tiger, Cub and Boy Scouts and progressed to be a senior patrol leader and Eagle Scout. He was also a crew leader at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Skills he learned in Boy Scouts have helped him in his studies at TSTC.

“When it comes to leadership, I can work with a group and do that,” Ramsey said. “The most important things are time management and meeting deadlines.”

After graduation, he wants to work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement will include graduates from the North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the Waco Convention Center at 100 Washington Ave.

For more information about TSTC’s statewide commencement ceremonies, go to

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TSTC in North Texas Receives New Logistics Training System

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College’s Logistics Technology program recently received a manufacturing operations training system through a Texas Workforce Commission grant.

“It walks you through the manufacturing process, from raw materials to the final products being shipped,” said William Scott, a TSTC Logistics Technology instructor. “Our students can get trained on logistics in a manufacturing environment.”

The $235,000 equipment will be used by students taking Introduction to Materials Handling, Materials Requirement Planning and Warehouse and Distribution Center Management for the Associate of Applied Science degree in Logistics Technology. Students will learn how to turn the machinery on, troubleshoot and operate the system. Scott described the machinery as a new experience for students.

“I’ve always wanted this since the inception of the program,” Scott said. “Manufacturing logistics is an added arm of the program.”

TSTC is poised to meet increased logistics demands in Ellis County. Some of the jobs that Logistics Technology graduates can pursue include purchasing, warehouse dock management, dispatching and inventory control.

Logistics and distribution is one of the city of Red Oak’s target industries. National Freight Industries has at least 70 employees working in logistics and warehousing at a 60,000-square-foot facility on Bowie Drive, according to the city’s economic development office. Lee McCleary, Red Oak’s economic development director, said the company has plans to build a new 117,000-square-foot structure next to the current building.

“NFI conducts business with multiple locations nationwide,” McCleary said. “NFI is the logistics and warehousing provider for Triumph Aerostructures – Red Oak.”

And in Waxahachie, Walgreens has a distribution center with less than 1,000 employees, according to the city’s economic development office.

“The Logistics Technology program was specifically chosen and developed for TSTC in North Texas given the local workforce needs,” said Provost Marcus Balch. “We’re training using the latest technology, including drones and radio-frequency identification technology.”

TSTC graduated its first group of Logistics Technology majors in December 2015.

TSTC in North Texas will host a Registration Rally for the fall semester from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8. For more information, go to

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TSTC Gives Military Members, Veterans Education Opportunities in West Texas

(ABILENE) – Shawn Ogden of Clyde wants to continue working in the aircraft industry after discovering the career as a mechanic in the U.S. Air Force.

But, he knew after leaving the military he was missing some of the certifications needed to professionally maintain aircraft.

“Going to college after being in the military can be intimidating and challenging, but it is absolutely worth the effort,” said Ogden, 43, a student at Texas State Technical College in Abilene. “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is extremely helpful when it comes to making sure you have everything you need to complete your education.”

Guiding Ogden through his time at TSTC is Veteran Services, which works with students who were in the military or are current active-duty members, along with their spouses and dependents.

“In the military, in order to make rank and be successful, we have to have education in our background,” said Annette Collins, veteran programs officer at TSTC’s West Texas campuses.

Some of the popular programs that members of Veteran Services like to pursue include Computer Networking and Systems Administration in Abilene and Brownwood, and Nursing and Vocational Nursing in Brownwood, Breckenridge and Sweetwater.

Ogden is part of the TSTC FAST Trac Airframe and Powerplant Program in Abilene that allows active-duty military members and veterans to study in an accelerated 13-week program focused on Federal Aviation Administration curricula. Classes are taught in hangar space at Abilene Regional Airport.

“There are a lot of veterans that come out and have worked on jets and airplanes the whole time in service but they don’t have the FAA airframe and powerplant license,” said Julia Humphrey, director of career services for TSTC’s West Texas campuses. “The program is geared for them to get the license and go to work.”

Ogden said he has felt at home at TSTC and knows he will be competitive and ready for job searching once he completes academic work in December.

“TSTC offers a complete package with hands-on training, which I have never had access to before,” he said.

Veteran Services also brings people together who share experiences no matter what military branch they are affiliated with.

Veterans, their spouses and dependents can work with TSTC’s Career Services and Talent Management staff on career readiness, resume writing, networking and interview skills. The technical college also has hireTSTC, an online resource for students to connect with companies that have job openings tailored to certificate and associate degree programs.

“I like TSTC because of the way they take care of their students,” said Collins, a 24-year U.S. Air Force veteran. “The staff is willing to go above and beyond to help the students get the education they need.”

A lot of TSTC’s student recruitment is focused on Dyess Air Force Base, which has more than 5,000 active-duty and U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees and an economic impact of more than $441 million, according to the Abilene Industrial Foundation. The military installation is also the largest employer in Taylor County.

“A lot of the active-duty personnel ask about their benefits and if their spouses can use the benefits,” Collins said. “Yes, they can.”

TSTC will have Registration Rally events for the fall semester on Aug. 2 in Sweetwater, Aug. 3 in Breckenridge, Aug. 8 in Brownwood and Aug. 11 in Abilene.

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