Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC West Texas Campuses Seeking Welding Instructors

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College is looking for motivational people who can put a spark in the lives of Welding Technology students.

TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood are seeking three qualified welding instructors with a combination of professional and teaching experience.

“We are always looking for awesome people to join our TSTC team,” said Rhiannon Hastings, lead statewide recruiter in TSTC Human Resources. “We truly value hands-on experience in industry to provide the best learning experiences possible for our students at TSTC.”

Starting this fall, TSTC in Abilene will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology and two certificates.

TSTC in Breckenridge offers a three-semester certificate in structural welding and accepts up to 20 students each semester.

“If you like small-town living, a great place to raise a family and a place where everybody knows everybody, it can work for you,” said Debbie Karl, executive director of the Breckenridge campus.

TSTC in Brownwood can accommodate 28 structural welding certificate students.

“We need someone with experience,” said Raquel Mata, executive director of the Brownwood campus. “We would like to have someone well known to the businesses and can meet and greet and have moments with them to get to know them. We want someone to be a good fit for our students and be a good leader.”

Applicants need to have current American Welding Society certifications and  experience in shielded metal arc, flux-cored arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding processes, along with fabrication, layout and pipe welding. Applicants having an associate degree in welding are preferred.

TSTC is a state institution offering Health Select of Texas administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid vacation days, sick leave and state holidays, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement. The technical college also offers employee development and employee appreciation events as part of its overarching goal to make TSTC a great place to work.

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TSTC and Manitou Group Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(WACO) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Manitou Group gathered Tuesday to commemorate a $283,116 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving workers’ skills at the forklift manufacturer’s Waco facility.

The grant will create or upgrade 145 new jobs and provide fabrication, maintenance and production training at the plant.

Manitou Group Plant Manager Martin Simard said he has received good feedback from his employees after some of the early trainings. He said utilizing the money is an investment in the company’s next generation of equipment and staff development.

“We need to stay open-minded in pushing boundaries,” Simard said. “We still have good ideas and things to do.”

Trainings by TSTC faculty began in March and will finish in November.

“TSTC has always leaned forward to provide an edge for companies and training,” said Andres Alcantar, chairman and commissioner representing the public for the Texas Workforce Commission.

Kris Collins, senior vice president for economic development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased Manitou Group was taking advantage of what TSTC and the TWC have to offer.

Bob Livingston, TSTC’s vice president of industry relations, said the grant benefits local employees who will have improved productivity and morale, and businesses that will receive dollars spent by residents. TSTC is able to fulfill its mission with job training while paying faculty additional money to teach new skills.

“If you like to hire our students, you should like us training your employees,” said Livingston.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

Texas Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, said the funds signify a holistic approach in continuing to be a foundation for the Texas economy.

And, TSTC is at the forefront in hiring and placing more Texans in highly skilled jobs.

“TSTC is super important and brings focus to Waco,” Anderson said. “The TSTC experience is really amazing.”

Manitou on Imperial Drive in Waco has about 170 employees involved in the production of forklifts for a variety of industries.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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.

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