Category Archives: West Texas

BEST Robotics to Kick Off Saturday

(SWEETWATER) – Big Country BEST Robotics will mark the start of its 2017 competition with a kickoff event at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

The event, held at The Center at Texas State Technical College, will give students a glimpse into this year’s contest objectives.

“This is where we’ll reveal this year’s game challenge,” said Richard Smola of Ludlum Measurements, who is serving as co-hub director of Big Country BEST Robotics. “They’ll see the scenarios and learn how their robot will need to perform.”

Students will also go over contest rules and pick up their robot-building supplies at the event.

“We give them everything that they need,” Smola said. “Plywood, PVC, wire — everything they need to build a robot. Supplies like motors and programming tools are reused each year. These are middle school and high school students, and they all receive their supplies to start building on the same day.”

Texas State Technical College partners with Ludlum Measurements to co-sponsor the Big Country BEST Robotics program, with Ludlum leading the event this year and TSTC supplying the venue and event volunteers.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, and the venue is really important,” Smola said. “With The Center we have a nice, big space, and we have the expertise of those volunteers from TSTC and Ludlum who’ve helped in prior years.”

BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help students develop technological literacy skills and encourage interest in engineering, science and technology.

Students have six weeks from the kickoff event to the final game day event. Game day will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at The Center at TSTC.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

 

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TSTC to Celebrate Student Center’s 20th Anniversary

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater will celebrate the 20th anniversary of “The Center,” the campus’ 36,000-square-foot recreational facility, with a commemorative ribbon cutting event at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, inside the building’s Seminar Room.
Former TSTC President Homer K. Taylor, who served as manager of development at the time, said in the ’90s TSTC exhibited a need for this building.
“First and foremost, our campus is somewhat isolated,” Taylor said. “We are a few miles from town, so our residential students needed a place to be able to use. Prior to this building, our students had a small building where students had like two pool tables and some table tennis. The building was shared with health services and the Dean of Students office. It was a very small place for the number of students we had. Students needed a place to add winter-type intramural sports and a cardio/fitness center. We were also in the middle of adding more housing for students, so we needed a facility that resident students could use and enjoy.”
Taylor said the facility not only filled a need for TSTC, but for the community as well.
“Dr. Clay Johnson, president of TSTC in Sweetwater at the time, had a dream to build a facility that was first class that both our students and the community could use and enjoy,” Taylor said. “In pursuing the plans for the Student Center, Clay and I visited the Cooper Fitness and Cardio Center in Dallas and modeled parts of the facility after the Cooper Center. The Center (at TSTC) offered the community a public place that would have a cardio/fitness center, a workout facility and a public meeting place.”
Maria Aguirre, TSTC executive director of compliance, agrees.
“The Student Center is a place the community has used since its opening,” she said. “We’ve hosted banquets, proms, meetings, workshops, competitions, conventions, practices for basketball and so much more for many community organizations and companies. The Rotary Club of Sweetwater regularly meets in the Seminar Room and has done so for many years. The Student Center is at the heart of our community.”
Since The Center was considered an auxiliary building, state funds could not be used to build it. A community-wide fundraiser was held to raise money to construct the building.
“This was the first time in Sweetwater to conduct a fundraising campaign to build such a facility,” Taylor said. “In The Center, there is a plaque of early donors that made a pledge and financial commitment for this facility. The goal for this building was to raise about $1 million to $1.5 million for this project.”
Aguirre said that even after 20 years, people ask if The Center is a new facility.
“The staff at the Student Center has cared for that facility very well,” she said. “Most prospects or visitors to the campus give great compliments to our Student Center and are surprised to find out it has been around for 20 years.”
Cake and punch will be served at the ribbon cutting. After the ceremony, attendees can also enjoy a lunch of grilled lemon pepper chicken or hamburgers for the discounted rate of $7.

 

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Two TSTC Employees in Breckenridge Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(BRECKENRIDGE) – Texas State Technical College has announced the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award, and seven West Texas employees were honored. Of the seven, two employees from Breckenridge received the award.

This year’s Breckenridge award winners are Vernon Akins, maintenance supervisor, and Cassie Love, enrollment specialist.

Akins, who has been at TSTC for nearly four years, said he was excited to receive the award.

“It was an honor to be nominated and be able to receive it,” he said. “I try to treat everyone nice and get to the work orders as fast as I can get to them. I’m polite to everyone and do my best at what I can.”

He said his co-workers are what drive him.

“I enjoy working with these people,” Akins said. “I feel that everything I do helps them accomplish their jobs in the classroom or going to meetings. I just try to keep everything up and going.”

Love, a 10-year TSTC employee, said she was honored and humbled that her co-workers nominated her for the award.

“They said that I was a very valued employee and an asset to TSTC,” she said. “I’m willing to always help our students and fellow employees.”

Her favorite part of her job is helping students.

“I love my job,” Love said. “I like to help students and see them succeed. When they come in and they say, ‘I don’t think I can do this,’ I like to tell them, ‘Yes, you can!’ I didn’t start college until I was 42, so if I can do it, I know you can do it.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years more than 280 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.

TSTC touts itself as being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

President and CEO of Abilene Chamber of Commerce to Speak at TSTC Commencement

(ABILENE) – Doug Peters, president and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, willspeak at the Texas State Technical College summer commencement ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, at the Abilene Civic Center.
Peters took on his current position of CEO in 2015. He oversees the strategic direction of the chamber and its affiliate organizations, including the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and the Abilene Industrial Foundation.
He totes up 30 years of experience in chamber of commerce and economic development environments, having begun his career in Dayton, Ohio. He later went on to work for chambers of commerce in Richmond, Indiana; Findlay, Ohio; and Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he also served on the Economic Alliance.

Peters is a member of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Association, the Grace Museum board, the Junior League of Fayetteville advisory board, the board of the United Way, and various other local, state and national organizations.

He is married to his lifelong sweetheart, Whitney, and together they have three children.

TSTC expects to award over 100 degrees and certificates across its four West Texas campuses Friday.

TSTC awards associate degrees and certificates in areas such as Aviation Maintenance, Computer-Aided Drafting & Design, Emergency Medical Services, Environmental Technology, Nursing, Welding, Wind Energy and more. The college is currently registering for the fall semester.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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Who: Texas State Technical College students, faculty and staff; Abilene Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Peters
What: Texas State Technical College Summer Commencement Ceremony
When: Friday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Abilene Civic Center, 1100 N 6th St., Abilene

Two TSTC Employees in Sweetwater Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College has announced the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award, and seven West Texas employees were honored. Of the seven, two employees from Sweetwater received the award.

This year’s Sweetwater award winners are Marina Wilcox, interim provost and vice president of Dual Enrollment, and Julie Browning, executive administrative assistant.

Browning has worked at TSTC for four years and said she was honored to receive the award.

“I guess I do my job well!” she laughed.

It is interaction with people that motivates her to come into work every day.

“I’m passionate about TSTC because of the people I work with and the students I work for,” Browning said.

Wilcox, who has worked at TSTC for a collective four years, felt the same sentiments.

“I was absolutely honored and humbled that my peers felt that I was worthy of this award and that I helped serve and lead them in a capacity that they felt was of benefit to them and the college,” she said.

Wilcox returned to TSTC in 2015, having previously worked at the college from 2007 to 2008.

“When I returned to TSTC, the college was on the ground level of going through the transition period of moving from separate colleges into one TSTC,” she said. “There was a great deal of change that was going on, on multiple levels.”

She was happy to guide her team through the shift.

“I’m glad I was able to be part of such an exciting transition and that I helped lead my team through that transition,” she said. “I’m glad they were able to see the positive effects the transition was having on the college in the present and where we’re going in the future. Every day is full of change and opportunities to be that servant-leader, to lead your team through the changes and to see the great effects it has in each of their areas.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years more than 280 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.

TSTC touts itself as being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

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Three TSTC Employees in Abilene Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College has announced the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award, and seven West Texas employees were honored. Of the seven, three employees from Abilene received the award.
This year’s Abilene award winners are Holle England, professional development officer; Jeannette Gist, director of student recruitment; and Jennifer Ryan, success coach.
England, a 22-year TSTC employee, was honored to receive the award.
“I believe in TSTC’s mission, and I strive to make sure that everything I do goes toward that mission,” she said. “In today’s society, a technical education is so important. I try to make sure we have excellent faculty and staff to support the students.”
Ryan has worked at TSTC for 14 years and said winning the award was a humbling experience.
“I thought it was a joke,” she laughed. “When you come to work, you do your work and you try to make the best of it. You try to encourage your students the best that you can, and you don’t really think about being recognized for that.”
The “underdogs” keep her motivated at TSTC.
“I want to help the person that was told by their high school counselor, a teacher or even a family member, ‘I don’t think college is for you,'” she said. “I try to show them that just because they may be limited in reading or math skills, or maybe have a learning disability, that doesn’t have to limit their potential to break the chain. Just because your family has always had manual jobs, that doesn’t mean you can’t be something different.”
With a background in children’s and family ministry, Gist also wanted to help make a difference for families.
“My heart just beats for families,” she said. “When I took the job, I wasn’t sure how my passion would connect with this job, but I found out very quickly how well it connects to what I care about. Every day in student recruitment we meet people. Sometimes they’re young, but sometimes they’re people even older than me who don’t know what they want to be when they ‘grow up.'”
She enjoys helping these students take the next step toward success.
“It’s a high to be able to walk through the process and direct them to a career that will enable them to provide for their families,” Gist said. “You never know what everybody’s story is and what it even took for them to walk through the door and pursue something different. What if they grew up in a household where people didn’t tell them they were smart? Maybe they didn’t have the confidence to take on a challenge like college. I want to be the person that sits across from them and says, ‘You can do it.'”
The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years more than 280 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.
TSTC touts itself as “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.
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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.

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

TWC Grant Partners Jonell and TSTC for Job Training

(BRECKENRIDGE) – More than 100 employees at Jonell Filtration Products Inc. will receive valuable job training from instructors at Texas State Technical College, thanks to a $210,320 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez presented the check to representatives from Jonell and TSTC in a ceremony held Friday afternoon at the company’s Breckenridge facility.

Jonell specializes in the development and manufacturing of filtration and separation products for the oil and gas industry, including offshore exploration and production, gas production and transmission, refinery and petrochemical applications and power generation.

The grant will provide customized training for 106 new and incumbent workers in the West Central Texas area during a period of 12 months.

“The workers will receive training in classes aimed at improving the skills of maintenance technicians and operators,” said John Dosher, executive director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education at TSTC.

Dosher explained that classes will focus on general plant safety along with mechanical and electrical safety. Other classes will be taught to improve the skills of front office and sales staff and leadership classes will teach employees about conflict resolution and active listening skills.

Virgil Moore III, executive director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp., commented on the importance of the grant’s impact on the community.

“Jonell is Breckenridge and Stephens County’s largest private employer and has been a vital part of the local economy for many years,” he noted. “This training will improve the quality of Jonell’s employees, resulting in higher quality products and service and a stronger local company that successfully competes in an international market.”

Steve Bell, Jonell’s production manager, said his company strives to be the preferred employer in Breckenridge and the grant will help it achieve that goal. He added that TSTC has offered to be flexible around the company’s plant schedules and has been supportive throughout the entire process, resulting in positive feedback from employees.

Robert Puls, business development consultant at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, said that Jonell offers quality employment opportunities in the area.

“The hands-on technical training will enhance the skills of current workers in performing maintenance and supporting changing industry and customer requirements,” he said.

Trainees at Jonell will include application engineers, assemblers, machine operators, material handlers, mechanical designers, packaging clerks, production control engineers and shipping clerks.

For more information on Jonell, visit jonellinc.com

Registration Rally events for TSTC’s fall semester will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 20, July 20 and Aug. 3 at the TSTC Welcome Center on the Breckenridge campus at 307 N. Breckenridge.

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

020 breckenridge twc june 16, 2017

TSTC Culinary Grad to Head Kitchen in New San Antonio Restaurant

Duttry cooking(ABILENE) – San Antonio bakery La Panadería has something new cooking, and Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts graduate Travis Duttry is the chef behind the fire.

The 2014 graduate was hired last month as head chef for the soon-to-open restaurant and has been busy readying operations since.

“It’s slightly chaotic right now,” Duttry said. “I’ve been working on writing the menu, getting recipe books set up, making sure that everything is delivered properly — we’re still getting equipment coming over from Europe, and I’ve put up a few ads for hiring here in San Antonio. We’re just running straight forward trying to get everything set up.”

But success didn’t come easy for the chef. Duttry says hard work was what got him where he is today.

“I’ve been working two jobs for the last six years or so,” he said. “I always thought I could get more experience working two jobs rather than one. While going through school I probably cooked more than I slept. I was working almost 100 hours a week.”

Culinary instructor Kayleen Moon said Travis definitely showed initiative.

“He commuted for class and had better attendance than those who lived in town,” she laughed. “I’m so impressed that he got a job as a head chef with a certificate. He asked a lot of questions in class and cross-trained outside of school. It screams potential.”

Duttry, a Brownwood resident, chose TSTC for its proximity to home and traveled to school in Abilene.

“TSTC was the closest school to me, and I didn’t want to owe a lot of money when I graduated,” Duttry said.

He enjoyed his experience at TSTC.

“Chef Kayleen Moon was awesome. She was very informative,” Duttry said. “I always felt like I learned as much in school as I learned out of school. There are certain things I learned there that I would have never learned in a small town, like the classic mother sauces and steak au poivre. Stuff like that I never would have learned in a small town, but I got to learn those skills there, use those in the professional world and build on what I learned in school.”

Duttry enjoys cooking what he likes to eat.

“Anything that’s Italian; Mexican food, and I don’t mean Tex-Mex, but traditional Mexican food; upscale bar food; and classic comfort food — that’s what I like to cook.”

Set to open Friday, the downtown San Antonio location will be the second store for La Panadería and will be located at 301 E. Houston St.

Duttry recommends that culinary arts students and aspiring chefs get as much experience as they can.

“Do your best in school and outside of school,” he said. “Try to find a nicer restaurant to work in so you can implement what you learned in school. The things you learn at work and in school, they’re going to build off of each other. And you make money while you’re doing it!”

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. For more information on TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, visit tstc.edu.

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Recent TSTC Graduate Continues Classroom Work

(BROWNWOOD) – Charles Marr still finds himself in a classroom, but not getting a grade for academic work.

Marr, 29, began work in mid-May as a campus technician at the Brownwood Independent School District. Marr graduated in late April with an associate degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration at Texas State Technical College in Brownwood.

He troubleshoots and repairs technology issues primarily at Brownwood Intermediate School and works elsewhere in the school district when needed. As the school year ends, Marr said he and his co-workers will work on upgrades and repairs to computers throughout the summer. He will also work on a CompTIA certification.

“Stay open-minded and be optimistic, and there is nothing really you should ever consider out of your reach,” Marr said.

Marr began growing comfortable with computers when he was in elementary school.

“It was more than just figuring out how to play solitaire,” he said. “A buddy of mine and I would mess with computers at his house and tear them apart and play with them.”

Marr graduated in 2005 from Brownwood High School. He joined the U.S. Army and was a combat engineer stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also lived in Houston before returning to Brown County.

“Moving back here wasn’t in the cards initially. But in coming back and graduating, it was actually easy because Brownwood is kind of a small town, but not what it used to be,” Marr said. “Everyone knows everybody, and that makes it easier.”

Qualities he learned in the military, such as discipline and commitment, helped him succeed in college.

“At the same time, I had to develop patience with people around me,” Marr said.

Renee Blackshear, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, said she was impressed with Marr’s helpfulness and graciousness.

“As a veteran, Charles is determined to be successful with any task he undertakes,” she said.

While at TSTC, Marr participated in SkillsUSA and placed third statewide in the telecommunications cabling contest.

“Charles distinguished himself by consistently demonstrating knowledge and expertise with course content, completing hands-on projects with ease, and submitting exceptionally well-researched and well-written documentation on various topics,” said Blackshear. “Charles is highly intelligent and has good analytical and communication skills.”

TSTC in Brownwood will have Registration Rally events for the fall semester from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 7, July 7 and Aug. 8.

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

Charles Marr resized Brownwood