Category Archives: Sweetwater

Three TSTC in West Texas Employees Earn Chancellor’s Excellence Award

2016wt-chancellors-awards-luncheon(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College in West Texas honored the recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award at a luncheon Friday in Abilene. Three West Texas employees were chosen as recipients.

This year’s award winners are Adam Harvey, lead application administrator at TSTC in Sweetwater; Griselda Sanchez, community standards liaison at TSTC in Sweetwater; and Andy Weaver, health science statewide division director at TSTC in Abilene.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years 270 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 Employee Celebrates 40th Work Anniversary

dsc_0660(SWEETWATER) – When Si Acuña began working at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater, he thought he would only be there for a few years. Now he finds himself in his 40th year at TSTC.

Acuña began working at the college in 1976 as a lab assistant in Automotive Technology.

“I was thinking I would stick around and see how long I was going to stay,” Acuña said. “I thought I would maybe go and do something else after that. I started as a lab assistant and moved on to an instructor, then moved on to master instructor for many years, and I was the department chair for years on and off. The program just kept going and going.”

With the development of advanced technology in cars, Acuña has seen much change throughout his time at TSTC.

“In the last 15 years or so, technology has changed so rapidly,” Acuña said. “The curriculum has changed quite a bit to keep up. In my time here, we’ve grown from being in a small building to a larger building where we are now. We have a lot more space and more classrooms with a well-equipped shop.”

He keeps up with the technology by reading and maintaining membership in professional organizations.

“I’ve been a member of many organizations that send out information and host conferences, like the Mobile Air Conditioning Society, the Automotive Service Association and the Automatic Transmission Association,” Acuña said. “Being part of those organizations, going to conferences and continuing to study on my own, I’m learning all the time.”

Acuña is proud to have made a difference at TSTC.

“I’m glad I was part of it,” Acuña said. “I helped to train a lot of students. One of the things I really like is working with the students and training them. The training is what’s really kept me here so long, being able to pass on my knowledge to other people.”

Overall, his favorite moment in teaching is seeing his students succeed.

“I have a lot of favorite moments, but I guess what is the best is when I see them cross the stage and they get a job,” Acuña said. “That’s the greatest one.”


Sweetwater Texas National Bank President Presents TSTC with Scholarship Check

TSTC Sweetwater Check Presentation sm(SWEETWATER) — Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Texas National Bank in Sweetwater, presented Texas State Technical College with a $1,000 check to go toward the Texan Success Scholarship Fund at a 3 p.m. presentation Wednesday, July 13, at Texas National Bank.

The Texan Success Scholarship is a “non-need based” $1,000 award for new, full-time students to provide cost assistance for the fall semester at TSTC.

Students are nominated for the scholarship by a high school academic or career counselor, a TSTC recruiter or TSTC faculty member. Students are then evaluated and can be awarded if they are eligible for high school graduation, have a minimum 2.0 grade-point average, have completed the conditional admission status for TSTC and demonstrated the potential to succeed in their desired technical program.

Johnson said Texas National Bank chose to make this donation because they share TSTC’s view of the importance of helping Texans prepare for the high-tech jobs required in today’s economy.

“We agree that not everyone needs to spend the time or money to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree,” said Johnson. “Graduates of TSTC are able to enter the workforce quicker and oftentimes at compensation rates higher than those available to many graduates of liberal arts universities. The fact that TSTC in West Texas is right here in our backyard is icing on the cake.”

TSTC in West Texas Provost Eliska Smith said it’s exciting to see momentum building in Sweetwater for the Texan Success Scholarship Campaign.

“This donation means TSTC can contribute to strengthening Texas’ workforce,” Smith said. “With the Texan Success Scholarship, we are able to help more Sweetwater-area students start their careers in welding, diesel, automotive, wind, nursing and more.”

Texas National Bank in Sweetwater has supported the college many times throughout the bank’s 21-year history. Johnson served for several years on the board of directors of The TSTC Foundation. He also served for many years on the board of the Rolling Plains Technical Foundation before it merged with The TSTC Foundation.

TSTC is registering for the fall semester through Aug. 22. For more information on programs offered, or to apply, visit

TSTC Students to Challenge for Gold

(WEST TEXAS) – Two students from Texas State Technical College in West Texas are preparing to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to contend for gold medals at SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference.


Rachael Thompson will compete in First Aid-CPR and Jon William Lewis will compete in Information Technology Systems at the conference, which is scheduled for June 20 to 24. More than 6,000 high school and college students are expected to compete in about 100 contests.


“We are very proud,” TSTC in West Texas Provost Eliska Smith said. “We are excited that we will be represented again at SkillsUSA. It’s wonderful for them to have this experience to compete against other college students around the nation.”


The TSTC Foundation honored the students with a special send-off on Friday, June 10, in Abilene.


Winning a gold medal at the national competition can add another credential to students’ resumes and make them more marketable when job hunting.


“SkillsUSA is an excellent opportunity to get the attention of important people, whether it be the contest chair who is selected from industry or a potential employer through one’s resume,” said Lewis, 21, of Abilene and a May graduate in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.


Students from TSTC in West Texas, Waco and Harlingen won more than 30 gold medals, and more than 70 medals total, during SkillsUSA’s statewide postsecondary competition in early April in Waco.


“The biggest success I think we have had this year for our campuses in West Texas has been the amount of medals we have taken home this year,” said Crystal Latham-Alford, a SkillsUSA campus director for the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses. “Also, this is the second year we have been up in participation numbers in the last five years. We continue to grow and the future looks bright.”


SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.


Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, log on to

Brothers Climb to New Heights at TSTC

Chavarria bros

(SWEETWATER) – When Blake Chavarria began taking Wind Energy classes at Texas State Technical College in 2010, he didn’t know he would be influencing his younger brothers’ college decisions. But now, almost four years after Blake graduated, his brother Aaron finds himself in his third semester in the program, and the youngest, Andrew, starts in the fall.

After hearing about the booming Wind Energy field while in high school, Blake chose this technology to combine his passion with his previous experience.

“Wind Energy was something that always interested me because, first of all, heights are my thing. I love dealing with heights,” he said. “But, also because I had worked in construction on the electrical side, wiring houses and stuff like that. I saw the program as a stepping stone for more knowledge with what I liked and what sparked my interest.”

Blake now works as a substation and transmission electrician at Oncor, and he’s been there since January 2013, just a short time after graduating. Due to electrical skills learned in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology, Oncor often hires graduates of the program to work for them.

“Learning the basic components of a wind turbine – the gears, mechanical parts and hydraulic systems – all of that ties into the mechanical things we deal with,” Blake said. “As far as the electrical, everything that we did in school for the wind turbines – learning how to troubleshoot, read schematics, use small electrical components, learning all the anti-numbers – every bit of it transferred over into my type of work.”

After seeing Blake’s success at TSTC, Aaron followed suit and began the program after graduating from high school in 2015.

“The program created a great opportunity for Blake,” Aaron said. “So I wanted to go into Wind Energy because it was great financially, first and foremost, and second, because of the opportunity to get a good job.”

Aaron said Blake has always set an example for him, whether it was a good one or a bad one.

“He’s made some mistakes in the past and I’ve learned from those,” Aaron said. “He’s also done a lot of good things. So I’ve followed his good steps, and done the opposite of what he’s done in the bad situations. It’s been positive and negative, but it’s been fun.”

So far, Aaron’s favorite part about TSTC has been the hands-on experience.

“I’ve been so used to going to regular school, so I’ve enjoyed being able to learn something other than basic math and science,” Aaron said. “I really enjoy learning the fundamentals of electricity. I’ve climbed the towers a couple of times already. It was the experience of a lifetime. It’s a big reason I’m getting into the industry – the experience of working 80 meters in the air. I believe I’ve chosen the right career path.”

While Andrew looks up to his brothers, he said he mainly chose Wind Energy Technology because he also loves heights.

“That’s one main reason,” Andrew said, “but I also find it very interesting to see how they work and how they can help make our earth green.”

Andrew is excited to begin school in the fall.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how exactly a windmill works, what it takes for it to work properly and how to fix the defects they have at times,” he said.

Blake said he wasn’t surprised to learn that his brothers wanted to join the industry also.

“They saw the passion that I had when I was at TSTC and going through the Wind Energy program,” Blake said. “I would always share with them what I was learning and all the cool facts, and what’s coming in the future, the opportunities and what doors it can open for you. I told Aaron about the American Wind Energy Association conference and now he’s there right now!”

Blake is honored that they chose to study Wind Energy.

“I’m very proud that my brothers have chosen these steps rather than to throw their life away on something meaningless,” he said. “It just makes me really happy, really joyous, that they’re following these footsteps because I set an example as their oldest brother. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. For more information on the Wind Energy program, visit

– # –

Future TSTC Students to Decorate Sweetwater HS Ceiling Tiles

(Sweetwater)- Sweetwater High School students who have been accepted to TSTC will decorate ceiling tiles in the name of their future college Friday at 9:30 a.m. TSTC will provide paint, pennants and other materials the students can use in decorating their tiles. A recruiting representative and TSTC in West Texas Provost Eliska Smith will be present at the gathering.

This will be the first year that students attending TSTC will decorate tiles. Provost Smith said she wanted to help the students take part in the high school’s long-time tradition, partially, to send a message.

“Their choice of attending Texas State Technical College should be just as celebrated as any other college choice,” said Smith. “We may be the ‘hometown college,’ but students should proudly celebrate the fact that they will be getting a great college education for jobs that are highly technical and in-demand. Their choice will lead them to great-paying careers, and with far less debt, creating a stronger foundation for their future.”

TSTC hopes to bring more opportunities to the Sweetwater area.

“With our dual credit partnership with Sweetwater High School and their upcoming expansion of career and technical education facilities pending approval of the bond, we look forward to having more and more students from SISD entering TSTC career programs having already earned college credit,” added Smith.

TSTC’s newly enrolled students will pursue degrees in Automotive Technology, Nursing, Welding and Emergency Medical Services.
WHAT: Sweetwater High School seniors decorating ceiling tiles in the name of TSTC, where they have been accepted for the fall semester.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 15, 2016

WHERE: Sweetwater High School, near the picnic tables (weather permitting). Please check into the office for more information (ask for counselor’s office).


TSTC Holds Annual Spring Team Challenge Cook-off

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College held their annual Spring Team Challenge Cook-off Tuesday, bringing together faculty, staff and students aspiring to show off their grilling talents during a fun-filled day of camaraderie.

Competing teams were challenged to come up with dishes based on chicken, steak, potatoes, beans and a mystery item. This year’s mystery items were squash and zucchini. There was also an award for “best camp,” given to the teams who put the most effort into creating a theme for their cooking area.

Team “Los Chivos” was the Overall Champion, bringing home second place awards in steak, chicken, beans, mystery item and the best camp categories.

“Brown Chicken Brown Cow” out of Abilene took second Overall Champion, with first place in chicken and best camp, second place in potatoes, and third in steak and mystery item.

“Brown Sugar” took home third Overall Champion, and first place awards in steak and mystery item.

Veronica Maldonado, an Electromechanical Technology student, was part of the Los Chivos team.

“I wanted to compete in the cook-off because it seemed like a really fun idea, and I also love grilling,” Maldonado said. “The best part for me was that, of the Sweetwater campus, I was the only female student in the competition. I wish we would have more events like this; more friendly competitions.”

Justin Price, department chair of Computer-Aided Drafting & Design, competed for the first time this year. Price was part of the Brown Chicken Brown Cow team, along with the Computer Networking & Systems Administration department chair, and students from both programs.

“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Price said. “It was a fun time to get out and interact with the students and faculty outside of the classroom. It went good for our team; we had fun and I enjoyed it.”

TSTC’s Team Challenge Cook-Off has been held every year in the fall and spring since 2012.


TSTC Expansion Brings New Opportunities in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER) – As industrial trades continue to grow in the West Texas area, Texas State Technical College is at the forefront, ready to supply graduates to fill new job openings.

Starting this fall, TSTC in Sweetwater will expand two of the college’s flagship programs, welding and diesel equipment, to increase its capacity to produce more work-ready technicians. The welding program, which currently houses 25 welding booths, will be expanding to hold 60 booths, and the diesel equipment program will expand from 30 enrollment slots to 60.

“Diesel and welding jobs are plentiful and projected to grow,” said Provost Eliska Smith. “TSTC chose to invest $1,750,000 to expand these two in-demand programs and equip even more quality welders and diesel mechanics.”

With the expansion, TSTC will be able to serve more Texans – both dual enrollment and full-time students – schedule courses more effectively, add additional course offerings, and grow its residential student body.

Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development said as Sweetwater’s economic base continues to expand into logistics, energy and manufacturing, the need for developing the skill sets in welding, diesel, electrical and hydraulics also grows.

“TSTC continues to meet and exceed the current training needs while growing opportunities for their students and our companies’ future employees,” Becker said. “TSTC has expanded programs to not only meet the needs of today but to prepare students for expanding opportunities at new and existing companies.”

“Another benefit of more welding and diesel students living on the TSTC campus in Sweetwater is more dollars being spent in the Sweetwater economy as well,” added Smith. “TSTC residential students become a part of the community, eating at restaurants, and buying gas and groceries here.”

Taylor Elston, a welding instructor at TSTC in Sweetwater, agrees, and said the expansion also brings new opportunities for instructional growth, increasing the knowledge base of students.

“It’s an opportunity to get into different welding processes that haven’t been offered here yet,” Elston said.

TSTC currently offers a pipe welding certificate in Sweetwater, but the expansion would allow the college to branch out to offer a structural welding certificate as well. A structural welding certification is a valuable credential for welders who work with structural steel, petroleum pipelines, sheet metal and chemical refinery materials. The annual median wage for welders is $41,000, a great return on a $5,000 investment for a one-year certificate.

Keith McDonald, the district service manager for Yellowhouse Machinery South Texas, says the company employs three TSTC diesel graduates, and would benefit from the growth in qualified workers.

“Techs are few and far between,” McDonald said. “Not everyone can grab a wrench and say ‘I’m a technician.’ There are definitely more openings than there are qualified technicians.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 21 percent increase in jobs for diesel engine specialists in Texas through 2022, and a whopping 43 percent increase in welding jobs in the same time period.

TSTC currently offers welding at the Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County campuses. Associate degrees and certificates are available, varying by campus. Diesel equipment technology is also offered at TSTC’s campuses in Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco.

TSTC will begin enrolling new students for the summer and fall semesters on April 4. For more information on the college, or to apply, visit


VibrAlign Awards Scholarship to TSTC Student

(SWEETWATER) – TSTC Wind Energy student Kyle Everett won a scholarship and earned the TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program a free state-of-the-art laser shaft alignment system from VibrAlign earlier this month.

The national award is part of VibrAlign’s Realigning America scholarship program. Every quarter, the program awards scholarships to students who submit the best essays about learning machinery maintenance.

Everett submitted an essay to VibrAlign describing his experiences as a student in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program. Everett’s essay was selected, winning him a $500 scholarship and a Fixturlaser GO laser alignment system for TSTC.

According to David Zdrojewski, VibrAlign chief executive officer, “America’s industrial workforce is aging. As a country we face the challenge of training the next generation. We want to do everything we can to support the training of America’s future industrial workforce so they can compete on the world stage. Helping schools like Texas State Technical College is a big part of our commitment to Realigning America.”

Zdrojewski founded VibrAlign in 1983 and has been serving as CEO since 1996. VibrAlign serves a wide array of industrial customers, from oil & gas facilities to defense contractors to papermakers, and specializes in Fixturlaser alignment systems, training, and calibration, as well as Oneprod condition monitoring systems.

For more information, call VibrAlign at 800-394-3279. For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC Veterans Students Receive $75,000 Gift from EMA Electromechanics

Texas State Technical College and EMA Electromechanics officials pose for a photo with EMA’s $75,000 gift to TSTC Veteran Students.

(SWEETWATER) – TSTC celebrated a gift of $75,000 from EMA Electromechanics.

EMA was founded in 1952 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but expanded to open its Sweetwater location in 2010 where they develop and manufacture specialized electromechanical equipment for wind and solar generation.

The gift, part of a celebration for EMA’s five-year anniversary, founds an account called Sweetwater Veteran’s Funds for College Education. Funds will go towards helping veterans complete their technical training at the college’s West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

Veteran students completing an associate degree can apply to receive up to $2,500, and those completing a certificate can receive up to $1,250. These funds will help veteran students with tuition and books, program supplies and living, child care and transportation expenses.

“We wanted to reach veterans because we owe them the freedom we have today,” said EMA Chief Financial Officer Gabriel Acosta. “We wouldn’t be able to be doing business as freely as we are without them.”

Acosta hopes the gift will help ease the transition veterans face when returning from service.

“We hope we can help them get back into civilian life, get an education and help them in the process,” Acosta said.

TSTC in West Texas Provost Eliska Smith said the gift demonstrates gratitude.

“This past summer, TSTC served 76 veterans in our West Texas locations,” said Smith. “This gift will help bring even more veterans to TSTC for the technical education they need to be successful in the workplace. It not only helps TSTC serve our veterans better, but it shows them that the community as a whole appreciates their service.”

EMA has also pledged to match donations made to the fund, up to $37,500, through Dec. 31, 2016.

If you would like to make a donation to the Sweetwater Veteran’s Funds for College Education, please contact The TSTC Foundation at 325-660-8721.