Category Archives: Waco

Waco Cisco Group at TSTC Seeking New Members

(WACO) – Local Cisco enthusiasts have a place where they can interact with Dallas-Fort Worth- area professionals without leaving Waco.

TSTC is home to the Waco Cisco Satellite Users Group led by John Washington, an instructor in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. Monthly video teleconferencing meetings with the Dallas-Fort Worth Cisco Users Group allows students and others throughout the area to learn about Cisco equipment, networking technology and job opportunities.

Washington said his goal for the group is to have more students and area professionals attend and learn.

“When they have their meetings, they ask who is there and if anyone is looking for jobs,” Washington said. “It is a chance for employers and people attending the meetings to contact each other with particular skills.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth Cisco Users Group is the largest and oldest such gathering in the United States, said Beau Williamson, the group’s president.

“Many of the students and people just starting out in their technology careers have been helped by the Dallas-Fort Worth user group to obtain their certifications via study groups, as well as doing people networking,” Williamson said. “Many members have launched very successful careers by actively participating in the user group meetings and study groups.”

TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program offers students the opportunity to earn Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching certifications. TSTC is a designated Cisco Academy.

“Cisco Certified professionals are in big demand, and certifications like the CCNA, CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) and CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) are key to opening the door to new or better opportunities for our members,” Williamson said. “The industry is evolving and we are finding that other skills such as Python scripting for DevNet, DevOps and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) are increasingly becoming important.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth Cisco Users Group and Waco Cisco Satellite Users Group meet at 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month. The Waco gathering meets in the Bowie Room on the third floor of the John B. Connally Technology Center at the corner of Campus Drive and Crest Drive at TSTC.

The next meeting of the Dallas-Fort Worth Cisco Users Group and Waco Cisco Satellite Users Group will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The meeting will be a discussion about mobile threat detection using on-device machine learning engines.

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TSTC Building Construction Technology Students Learn About Protection Equipment

(WACO) – Students in the Building Construction Technology program at Texas State Technical College recently learned about the importance of personal protection equipment.

Ben Sanchez, a safety specialist for Richards Supply Co. in Fort Worth, talked to students about what the safety responsibilities of employers and employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety guidelines.

There were 991 deaths in the construction field in 2016, according to OSHA. The agency’s “fatal four” for most of these deaths were falls, being hit by objects, electrocutions and caught-in or -between situations involving equipment or collapsing structures.  

Construction industry safety could save more than 630 lives in the United States per year, according to OSHA.

“Employers must protect their employees,” Sanchez said.

Employers should perform a regular hazard assessment and find ways to eliminate problems. After hazards are assessed, employers need to consider what personal protection equipment is needed, Sanchez said. Some of the equipment can include ear protection, respirators, hard hats and safety vests.

Some of the workplace dangers that can occur include falling tools, which can be remedied with tool lanyards. There were 93 worker fatalities from being struck by objects in the U.S. in 2016, according to OSHA.

Sanchez said people in the construction field need to wear face protection to reduce injuries caused by dust particles, cleaning solutions, chemical splashes and other substances. Face protection includes properly fitting, prescription eyewear with the correct indoor and outdoor tints and coatings.

“The quality of the coating matches the cost of the glasses,” Sanchez said.

Eyewear should also include quality foam lining.

“You are not going to get a good seal with just plastic on your face,” Sanchez said.

Some construction work requires respirators, which employers must have employees wear only if they are cleared medically and physically. Sanchez said employers should develop worker change-out schedules when respirators are needed.

“If you can smell or taste it, it’s in your lungs,” he said.

Sanchez said hearing protection should be used according to the decibel level of what is happening around employees. He said the noise-reduction rating should be considered when buying hearing protection.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 4 million workers work in damaging noise conditions. In 2017, there were 23,000 cases nationally reported of occupational hearing loss that could lead to hearing impairment, according to NIOSH.

Students said they were glad to hear the information, which is reinforced daily by faculty members through quizzes, course lessons and enforced guidelines for working in the construction lab.

“Looking forward, our end goal is getting a good job,” said Courtney Seelhorst, 29, a Building Construction Technology major from Plano. “To have someone from the outside in industry coming to talk to us makes it real and applicable.”

Mae Allen, 18, a Building Construction Technology major from Waco, said Sanchez’s talk made her think more about protecting her eyes.

“I like taking things and making them new,” Allen said. “I’m good with my hands and doing things myself.”

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TSTC Student on Path to New Career

(FORT BEND) – Gerardo Garcia was the only graduate in December to get a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and earn Board of Regent graduate honors, and he managed this accomplishment against great odds.

Garcia earned his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during TSTC’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

This semester, the Zapata native is back in the classroom pursuing an associate degree in his field and another perfect GPA.

“I have big goals for myself and before TSTC they weren’t happening,” said Garcia. “My future was uncertain and now I feel like things are falling into place.”

The 27-year-old’s journey at TSTC started when he got laid off from his job in the oil and gas industry and was invited by his twin sisters to join them in Houston.Gerardo Garcia HVAC Board of Regent Graduate

“For six months I had no job and no money,” said Garcia. “I was tired of being considered not hirable.”

So in January 2017, Garcia enrolled at TSTC and got a part-time job at Home Depot to pay for school. However, it was not an easy ride.

“Everything about my classes was great,” he said. “The instructors were attentive and always there for me and the hands-on training I was receiving was excellent, but I was struggling personally.”

While at Home Depot, Garcia worked well into the night. At least twice a week, Garcia would get out at 3 .m. and would sleep in his car to ensure that he made it to class by 8 a.m.

On the days he would get out earlier he would make the half-hour drive home to finish homework and get some sleep.

“It wasn’t easy working overnight and I didn’t want my education to suffer,” he said. “But I also needed the money.”

So, instead of leaving school, he left Home Depot and found a job at HEB.

“It was the best decision I could have made,” said Garcia. “HEB’s schedule allows me to focus more on school. I’m well on my way to a new career.”

Garcia has dreams of someday getting his contractor’s license and starting an HVAC residential and commercial business after getting some experience in the field.

“With an associate degree, my resume will no longer be tossed to the side and ignored,” said Garcia. “I have a degree and skills that people are looking for and it’s now going to be easier finding a job.”

Garcia, who expects to earn his associate degree Summer 2018 said he wants others to know that if they are looking for a new career or a career change TSTC is the place to go.

“TSTC is changing my life and will lead me to job security and stability,” said Garcia. “I highly recommend TSTC.”

For more information on HVAC Technology or to apply and register anytime, visit

EWCHEC to Host Faculty Job Fair

(HUTTO)  – Texas State Technical College and Temple College will host a faculty job fair from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. The colleges are seeking faculty for academic and technical positions.

“Both Temple College and TSTC are in need of instructors and a candidate pool, and this will be a great opportunity for us to showcase our employment opportunities,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla.

TSTC is looking to hire in the areas of HVAC, Precision Machining and Welding. Temple College is seeking instructors in all programs.

“EWCHEC offers great teaching opportunities for people who would like to teach during the day, in the evenings or during the summer,” said Temple College Director Robbin Ray.

Human resources representatives from both colleges will be available to answer questions and assist with applications.

The East Williamson County Higher Education Center is located at 1600 Innovation Blvd. in Hutto.  Anyone who is qualified to teach college-level courses is encouraged to attend. Both full-time and part-time positions are available.

For more information, call 512-759-5900.

Late Registration Ongoing at TSTC

(HUTTO) — Texas State Technical College in Williamson County is still offering late registration for the spring 2018 semester. Registration will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Jan. 12. Students registering late will incur a $100 late fee. Classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 16.

TSTC offers a variety of educational avenues, including certificate options and full associate degrees. High school students who want a head start on their college education may also opt for online training or dual-credit programs.

Among the many programs the college offers are Culinary Arts, Cyber Security, HVAC, Precision Machining Technology and Welding.

Students seeking financial aid should contact the TSTC Financial Aid office immediately at 254-867-3620 to allow time for processing. More information on financial aid, including an online application, is available at

For more information on registering or about the college, call 512-759-5900.

Mansfield ISD Students Blast Off at TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center

(WACO) – Natalyn Ramos, 11, a Mansfield Independent School District sixth-grade student, experienced what life is like for an astronaut during a visit earlier this week to the Challenger Learning Center at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

Though Ramos said she enjoyed working in Mission Control to guide a mock space mission, space is not where she wants to go as a profession. Ramos said she wants to study forensics and become an FBI agent.

“I like science and love space, but I don’t think I would travel to space,” she said.

Ramos and her classmates from the school district’s Icenhower Intermediate School visited on Wednesday the Challenger Learning Center. On eight days in January, the more than 400-member sixth-grade class will take part in Grand Prairie-based ECHO Education’s “Texas: It’s a Go, Mission Control” program while at the center.

At the learning center, Icenhower’s students will participate in the “Rendezvous With a Comet” mission, visit the planetarium and do a school-led experiment studying the splattering effects of meteorites hitting grass, water, cement and aluminum surfaces.

The field-study trip aligns with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards for understanding Earth and space, said Stacy Rountree, ECHO Education’s director of education and day-programs director.

“I think our Challenger program will grow very quickly because of word-of-mouth,” Rountree said. “I love hands-on (learning). When a child does something hands-on, they will remember it. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing they get to do.”

Rebecca Burton, an Icenhower sixth-grade science teacher, said the Waco visits reinforce what has been taught in space units the students have recently done. And, the students also learn valuable teamwork and communication skills.

“Being able to come here and see what was talked about coming to life is great,” she said. “I would like them to take away that mathematics and science are important every day. They can open up jobs and other possibilities.”

Icenhower sixth-grade student Jordan Tankersley, 12, said he was still interested in theater as a profession but enjoyed learning about zodiac signs in the learning center’s planetarium.

“It was a very cool experience to see what astronauts and mission control staff do and to see how hard it is for them,” he said. “I am excited to be here.”

ECHO Education provides lunch for students and charter bus travel to and from schools. The organization works with more than 40 Dallas-Fort Worth-area school districts.

The nonprofit ECHO Education made it possible for two groups of fifth grade students from the Aledo Independent School District to visit the learning center in November.

ECHO Education staff are already planning school visits for February.

The Challenger Learning Center honors the astronauts who died Jan. 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed on the Challenger space shuttle launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The initiative was founded later that year by the families of the seven astronauts tragically killed. TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center is affiliated with the nonprofit Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Washington, D.C.

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TSTC Building Construction Technology Students Build New Computer Lab

(WACO) – Building Construction Technology students at Texas State Technical College are seeing the results of learning exercises their fall semester classmates had in interior finishing.

Room 103 in the Building Construction Technology Building was once a classroom, but students have transformed the space into a computer lab able to accommodate 24 students.

John Russell, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor, designed plans on the software programs Chief Architect and Inventor. About 50 students built desks, painted, installed Sheetrock and set up cabling during the fall semester. Staff at TSTC’s Information Technology Support Operations helped get computers online.

The desks are made of red oak, plywood and laminate. Staff from Wilsonart in Temple taught students about adhesives and laminates for the project.

“This was a training situation and some students learned faster than others,” Russell said.

One of the students who worked on the project, Michael Shields, 34, of Waco, is scheduled to graduate in April with an Associate of Applied Science in Building Construction Technology. He said it was good experience undertaking construction procedures, from learning blueprints to installing the finished products.

“Building Construction Technology deals with a lot of the aspects of mathematics and being methodical,” Shields said. “The process is important to learn how to put things together.”

Students still need to replace some of the lab’s ceiling tiles. Russell said the room’s carpet could eventually be changed out.

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TSTC Culinary Arts Watches Calendar for Winter Vegetables

(WACO) – The winter months mean an abundance of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and other vegetables for students to learn about in Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts programs.

Of Texas’ five growing zones, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, three include TSTC’s campuses. TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Abilene is in a zone stretching from the Red River to the Rio Grande. The technical college’s Culinary Arts programs in Waco and Williamson County are in a zone extending from the Rio Grande to the Houston coast. And, TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Harlingen is in a zone made up of the Rio Grande Valley.

TSTC students learn about the seasonality of vegetables in classes, said Aaron Guajardo, an instructor in the Culinary Arts program in Waco. He said paying attention to when vegetables are at their height of availability can mean more quantity and lower food and shipping costs.

“The flavors are going to be better because the conditions will be more favorable for them to grow,” Guajardo said.

Winter vegetables are those that are planted in the fall and early winter and are harvested before spring planting, said Colleen Foleen, a McLennan County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for family and community health.

“The roots and leafy greens are going to be the ones you are going to have,” Foleen said. “If you look when they are available at the stores it’s best from November to April. Things in season and grown fairly locally are going to have a higher nutrition value, will be cheaper and have no artificial means of sunlight to grow.”

Each of the state’s growing zones bring different soil, climates and planting schedules. For instance, beets can be planted about Aug. 15 in the Panhandle and as late as Dec. 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the extension service. The Ruby Queen and Detroit Dark Red beets are available in Texas from October to April as growing seasons move southward, according to the extension service and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Foleen said kale is currently being harvested and spinach and lettuce are growing well in McLennan County.

“It gets too hot here for most of the greens, but they will grow well in the wintertime,” she said. “We have a lot of vegetables that are winter that are considered spring and summer in other climates.”

Kayleen Mills, a Culinary Arts instructor at TSTC’s Abilene campus, uses celery and onions in stocks. Locally grown celery is available from December to April and onions can be planted in November and December in Central and South Texas with crops being available from March to August, according to the state extension service.

“It’s a huge money saver and time saver and it’s neat for the students to see it too,” Mills said. “Things like that do very well in the winter.”

Herbs are also available year-round throughout the state. Mills said she and other faculty members grow herbs in raised gardening boxes in the parking lot next to the T&P Depot in downtown Abilene.  

“The students see how intense the herbs are in flavor when you grow them versus purchasing them,” Mills said. “It’s a huge thing when you are manipulating recipes.”

Seeing when vegetables are in season helps with menu planning at TSTC’s student restaurants in Abilene, Harlingen and Waco.

“It comes down to how you get the best product at the end of the day,” Guajardo said.

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TSTC HVAC Program Receives Equipment Donation

(RED OAK) – A Plano business recently donated more than $13,000 in Trane equipment to Texas State Technical College in North Texas.

TSTC’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program received five high-efficiency condensing units, five fan coils, two gas furnaces and an evaporator coil from Total Air & Heat Co.

Terry Robinson, a TSTC HVAC instructor with more than 20 years of industry teaching experience, said this was one of the largest equipment donations he has seen.

“The donated Trane equipment diversifies the equipment that students will work on as they install, maintain, troubleshoot and service in the HVAC training laboratory,” he said. “This is high-quality equipment with new technology that will enhance our students’ learning experiences.”

The family-owned company was founded in 1957 and provides residential and commercial boiler, heating and air conditioning installation and maintenance services in Collin and Dallas counties. The company has 45 employees.

“We stay active and keep in front of people, so we stay relevant for people to want to do business with us,” said Justin Lauten, a general manager at the business.

Lauten did not graduate from TSTC, but became familiar with the Red Oak campus when he took a statewide HVAC licensing preparation course from there.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate in HVAC Technology.

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TSTC HVAC Students Graduates to a Brighter Future

(FORT BEND) – Graduating, and doing so with honors, was the last thing Zach Guthrie ever expected to happen.

But on December 14 the 25-year-old put on his black cap and gown and excitedly received his certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology during Texas State Technical College’s Commencement Ceremony at the Rosenberg Civic Center.

“My whole life school wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, until TSTC came into town and then things changed.”

Guthrie has now joined an alumni network that is more than 100,000 strong.

Before TSTC, the Houston native enrolled at Wharton County Junior College and soon realized that a traditional classroom with the study of theory was not for him.

“That’s not the way I learn. I am a hands-on learner,” he said. “TSTC matched my learning style.”

The Houston native first heard about TSTC when his mother, TSTC Enrollment Specialist Melanie Pruett, began working at the college.TSTC graduate Zach Guthrie

It was after learning about the programs and doing some research that Guthrie decided to enroll in HVAC Technology.

“My dad has worked in the HVAC business for a good 30 years of his life,” said Guthrie. “Now with this certificate and the skills I have gained I can follow in his footsteps.”

Throughout his educational journey Guthrie worked late nights with United Parcel Service (UPS) and attended class during the day, which made it challenging for him to complete the program.

“I went through some rough patches, but the instructors and staff at TSTC and my family kept pushing me and encouraging me. I couldn’t have done it without their understanding and support,” he said. “They all deserve a big thank you.”

Commencement speaker Michael Dobert, owner/principal of human resource consulting firm HR in Alignment LLC and TSTC Welding Continuing Education student had a special message for graduates like Guthrie.

“Continue to learn, never stop. Be a leader in all you do by empowering and encouraging others,” said Dobert. “Finally, give more than you receive and you’ll get back more than you could ever imagine.”

He also reminded students that success out in the field is not only about technical skills, but also soft skills such as leadership, professionalism, work ethic and entrepreneurship.

“Always remember that your technical skills are just as important as your soft skills,” he told the graduates. “TSTC has provided you the educational opportunities you need for a successful career path and now the rest is up to you.”

Other speakers who shared remarks during the ceremony included TSTC Provost Randy Wooten, TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy and TSTC Regent Joe Gurecky.

For Guthrie and his fellow graduates, the end of this chapter means a new one begins and he hopes to find employment with local HVAC companies like Custom Comfort Air or Trane Heating and AC.

“TSTC has given me something to look forward to. I’m excited about my future now,” said Guthrie. “I’m ready to enter the workforce and use the skills I have gained, slowly move up the ladder and continue my education at TSTC for my associate degree.”

For more information on TSTC programs, to apply or register, visit

The deadline for Spring 2018 registration is January 2.