Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Graduate Finds Solutions to Work Challenges at Houston Company

(WACO) – Parker Schellhaas of Spring grew up knowing his future career had to involve working with his hands.

But, he was not sure what path he would take after graduating in 2010 from Cypress Woods High School in Harris County.

“I was told about Texas State Technical College by my wife’s uncle, who was working at Luminant at the time,” said Schellhaas, 25. “His company was getting quality employees from TSTC. We visited TSTC one weekend to check out the different programs they offered at an open house.”

Schellhaas graduated in 2015 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in what is now Facilities Maintenance and Management.

He is now a facilities technician at Data Foundry in Houston and works alongside co-workers troubleshooting and finding solutions. Schellhaas said he wants to professionally grow with the company and eventually work on a bachelor’s degree to move into management.

“I wouldn’t say there is a typical day,” Schellhaas said. “It can vary from doing paint touch- ups around the site to working on HVAC and power equipment.”

He said he has learned on the job about the value of teamwork.

“In facilities, you start at the bottom and prove your way to the top,” Schellhaas said. “No matter what the job asks, it is your responsibility to do it.”

TSTC offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in Facilities Maintenance and Management in Waco. The degree includes classes in hydraulics, electrical theory, blueprints, piping standards and boiler maintenance. Students are exposed to building, electrical and safety codes and learn about paperwork and retention. Students also learn about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.

Michael Hubbard, lead instructor in the Industrial Maintenance and Engineering Department, based the curriculum around professional competencies developed by the International Facility Management Association.

Program graduates are encouraged to apply for IFMA credentials, which are recognized worldwide, Hubbard said. The organization’s credentials are for Facility Management Professional, Sustainability Facility Professional and Certified Facility Manager.

“We don’t need managers (in the field), we need leaders,” Hubbard said.

Texas had more than 110,000 general facilities and maintenance workers in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land metropolitan area had the most workers in Texas with more than 27,800 people, while the Waco area had more than 900 people in the field in May 2016.

General facilities and maintenance positions are expected to increase by 83,500 nationwide through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other professions that graduates can pursue include building and systems analysis, facility maintenance, building automation control, building inspections, facility management and plant maintenance engineering.

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Student Becomes First at TSTC in Waco to Get AWS Certification

(WACO) – Zackary Palomin can always say he was the first.

Palomin, 22, of League City and a student at Texas State Technical College in Waco, in mid-August became the first Cloud and Data Center Management program student to get the Amazon Web Services Certified Solution Architect – Associate certification. The certification is for two years and can be renewed with additional testing. AWS is a worldwide cloud platform that includes storage, networking, analytics, artificial intelligence and other features.

“My eyes were wide open,” Palomin said when he found out he passed the test.

Palomin’s instructor, Andy Kroll in TSTC’s Cloud and Data Center Management program, has used the Amazon Web Services Academy Cloud Computing Architecture curriculum in the Cloud Deployment and Infrastructure Management course since January. Cloud and Data Center Management majors take this course in the fifth semester and learn about data security, data storage, cloud computing, the AWS cloud and other topics.

“It’s the most in-demand certification in information technology,” Kroll said. “Everyone wants to go to the cloud, but there aren’t enough people to take them to the cloud.”

Palomin is a triple major at TSTC. He graduated in December 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and in August 2017 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cloud and Data Center Management. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2017 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security.

“I decided the second-to-last semester before I was going to graduate with my first degree to take my mother’s advice and keep going and explore more,” Palomin said.

Palomin was born in New Mexico and moved to Texas in 2001.

“I was a curious child,” he said. “I had an interest in taking things apart. I had an interest in my parents’ computer when they used the Windows 2000 program.”

Palomin learned about TSTC when a recruiter visited Clear Falls High School in League City, where he graduated in 2014.  He was also involved in technical theater.

Palomin is active in SkillsUSA and the Cyber Centurions organizations at TSTC. Away from clubs and studying, Palomin likes to watch YouTube videos and read about random subjects through Google searches.

After finishing at TSTC, Palomin wants to work in the Houston area.

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TSTC Welding Graduate Continues to Prove Talents

(WACO) – Kacy Crook is one for proving people wrong.

“I wanted to do welding in high school,” said Crook, 20, of Tyler and a recent graduate of Texas State Technical College. “My teacher said I could do it. I welded and cut one thing, and then he put me on the plasma table.”

Crook graduated Aug. 18 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology at TSTC in Waco. She walked across the stage at the Waco Convention Center with more than 500 students from the Waco, North Texas and Williamson County campuses.

Crook’s parents and aunts attended the ceremony.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet moment. I wanted to shoot for the extra. I didn’t want to do the bare minimum.”

She was one of four females graduating with welding degrees this summer. And, the program is expected to have at least two females graduating from the program in December.

“This program isn’t for everyone,” said Mark Watson, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor. “The young ladies that make it through this program are extraordinary with great work ethics.”

Crook said her first two weeks at TSTC in fall 2015 had class difficulties that made her cry and question her confidence. But she credited Watson for encouraging her to calm down and listen to music on headphones as she welded.

“The faculty have become family,” Crook said. “They are here for you, welding or not.”

Crook’s longtime dance instructor in Smith County, Savannah Holik, also gave her encouraging advice.

“She told me to not be afraid of the opportunities and to not give up no matter what,” Crook said.

Crook’s career goal is to do pipeline work.

Crook worked two jobs and took dance lessons while she was a student at Bullard High School, where she graduated in 2015.

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TSTC in Waco, North Texas and Williamson County Hold Summer Commencement

(WACO) – More than 580 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2017 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 18, 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 515 graduates, Williamson County had 40 graduates and North Texas had 34 graduates.

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

Rosie Zamora of Fort Worth graduated with a Certificate in Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology. She is following her father and grandfather into the profession. Zamora will continue working as a plumbing apprentice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“It was an experience,” Zamora said about her time at TSTC. “I learned things I didn’t know before.”

Cesar Castillo, 19, of Del Rio received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He follows in the footsteps of several other Del Rio students who have graduated from TSTC’s Welding Technology program.

“This program tests if you really want to go down your career path,” Castillo said. “It’s a lot more welcoming since most of your instructors know where you came from.”

Castillo said he will continue job hunting.

“I’m excited to go out on my own,” he said.

TSTC had more than 1,200 graduates this summer across the state.

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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.

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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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