Category Archives: Waco

Manufacturing Consortium Partners with TSTC for $293,211 Job-Training Grant

(TEMPLE) — Texas State Technical College has partnered with a manufacturing consortium including The Butler Weldments Corp., Reynolds Consumer Products LLC and Temple Bottling Co. to train 130 new and incumbent workers using a $293,211 Skills Development Fund grant.

Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez presented the check to officials from TSTC, Butler Weldments, Reynolds Consumer Products and Temple Bottling Co. at an 11 a.m. ceremony today at the Temple Economic Development Corporation’s Board Room.

Steven Dobos, president of Butler Weldments, said the company is excited to get more training for employees.

“It’s a win-win for everybody involved,” Dobos said. “Skilled labor has been very difficult to find lately. What better way to bring about a solution for us than customized in-house training for our employees. It’s a phenomenal thing to do.”

Kyle Butler, plant operations manager at Temple Bottling Co., agreed.

“Our employees are primarily unskilled and this is going to go a long way,” he said.

Rick Villa, plant manager of Reynolds Consumer Products, said they’ve tried several other training programs, but they didn’t work for the company.

“This is the first program that we’ve really been able to lock our teeth into,” Villa said. “We’re training our operators to become mechanics, our mechanics to become electricians, and taking our electrical skills up in the plant. You need to bring those skills along if you want to be successful.”

Commissioner Alvarez said the training provided is necessary with changing technology.

“Each person that spoke today mentioned that skills have changed,” Alvarez said. “The face of manufacturing has changed. We’re talking about technology and terminology that didn’t exist before. It’s changed. Times have changed and the folks on the receiving end of this grant know that the change is coming. And so, the fact that they’re talking about keeping up their skills and keeping up with today’s technology says a lot.”

Charley Ayres, vice president of the Temple Economic Development Corporation, said the grant speaks to the sense of community in the area.

“It’s exciting to know that this grant doesn’t just involve Temple companies, it also involves our neighbors in Cameron,” Ayres said. “We work together very closely to try to make our businesses more successful. We understand that what happens in Cameron makes Temple better. That workforce makes us all stronger in our region.

The Skills Development Fund is one of the state’s premier job-training programs, keeping Texas competitive with a skilled workforce. Commissioner Alvarez said the grant would have an overall impact of $4 million.

Workers trained will include 35 new hires, and 95 jobs will be upgraded. Workers will be from Temple-area plants and will be trained in the areas of production, maintenance, mechanical and support occupations. Trainees will include machinists, maintenance technicians and production workers, and training will be provided by TSTC instructors. After completing the training, workers will receive an average hourly wage of $20.90.

For more information on TSTC’s workforce training, visit

New Online Bookstore Debuts at TSTC’s Campuses in North Texas and Fort Bend County

(RED OAK) – A new online bookstore for Texas State Technical College’s North Texas and Fort Bend County campuses opened earlier this month.

This marks the first time students will have direct access to buy textbooks and not have to order from other campuses.

“This is huge for us,” said Stephen Pape, director of student learning at TSTC in North Texas. “It enables the students to get their books early so they don’t have to wait. The online bookstore gives them a choice of shipping to their home or to the campus where they can be picked up.”

Current and newly registered students can access the bookstore through the technical college’s internal portal. The first visit will enable the student to input their identification number and create a password for later visits.

“The bookstore will recognize them as students and check their schedule for the classes they signed up for,” said Pape. “The bookstore will know what books they need when they log in. The students can order books or they can check the prices for books.”

The online bookstore will give students information on how much of their financial aid money is available to spend on textbooks and automatically deduct it.

Students at the Fort Bend County campus will follow the same steps to access and purchase from the online bookstore. Arturo Solano, bookstore manager at TSTC in Harlingen, worked on planning Fort Bend County’s online offering and said the technical college is adapting to the latest trends in providing sourced materials for students.

“TSTC partnered with Ambassador Education Solutions, which will be distributing all the required course materials straight from their warehouse while at the same time providing students with a custom website tailored to their campus,” Solano said.

Planning for the new initiative began a year ago with financial aid, bookstore, information technology and student learning staff on multiple campuses working together.

“The major reason for the online store was to provide better service to the students,” said Greg Guercio, vice president of retail operations at TSTC in Waco.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Area Technology Consortium Gives to TSTC Scholarship

(WACO) – The Central Texas Education Network, a regional technology consortium that included school districts, hospitals, libraries and Texas State Technical College, recently donated $93,000 to the Lynn R. Francis Memorial Scholarship.

CTEN, which was created in 1994, is disbanding and used remaining operating funds to make the gift to the longtime TSTC scholarship.

“Connectivity could not have helped without TSTC and Lynn,” said Marlene Zipperlen, CTEN’s chairwoman. “It was a collaboration when there weren’t a lot of collaborations going on.”

The scholarship honors the life of Lynn R. Francis, TSTC’s director of network services, who died in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 25, 2001. The scholarship will be available for awarding in fall 2018 for graduating high school seniors in the Axtell, Bruceville-Eddy, Cameron, China Spring, Gholson, Itasca, Mexia and West school districts planning to attend TSTC in Waco, said Karen Beach, director of donor retention for The TSTC Foundation. Students whose parents work for the Hillcrest Baylor Scott and White Hospital, Falls Community Hospital, the Waco-McLennan County Library and the Hillsboro City Library are also eligible, according to information from The TSTC Foundation.

Francis was instrumental in developing the technical college’s networks for interactive video, telephones and fiber-optic campus data.

“In the early ‘90s, then-president Don Goodwin called on Lynn Francis, the CMT (Computer Maintenance Technology) graduate and instructor, to develop the TSTC computer network to create a unified system to replace the piecemeal chaos that separated campus PCs,” according to the March 15, 2001 edition of the Tech Times.

Francis grew up during TSTC’s early days as the James Connally Technical Institute as his parents were part of the faculty. He received an associate degree in computer maintenance technology from Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC) in 1987.

Francis was an avid motorcyclist.

“From bikes to bikers, and everyone in between, the people who will miss the soft-spoken, Harley-riding TSTC instructor and director spread from Waco to Denver, Little Rock to San Francisco … and beyond,” according to the Tech Times.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Detention Training Officer Follows Technology Curiosity to Pursue TSTC Degree

(RED OAK) – April Smith of Wylie credits actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie for inspiring her to study cyber security.

Smith said as a teenager she watched “Hackers,” a 1995 movie starring Jolie in which the main characters create a technological virus and hack into computer systems.

“I chose cyber security because I have always been intrigued by the ability of technology,” said Smith, 36. “I was in awe of the movie. Computers, video games and art are all of my passions and technology rolls them all into one.”

Smith took her passion and used it to work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security at Texas State Technical College in North Texas in Red Oak. She is a candidate to receive the degree at TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement on Aug. 18 in Waco.

“In some of my classes I was the only female, but that didn’t prevent the camaraderie of us pulling together and learning,” Smith said.

Smith’s academic work also earned her the Provost’s Award.

“I was blown away and felt so much gratitude,” she said. “I was floored really and so happy that I could share the surprise with my family, who have supported me throughout it all. My hard work and dedication paid off and I am still in the clouds about it all.”

TSTC Provost Marcus Balch said he selected Smith because she attended classes and works at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department as a detention training officer. She has been at the sheriff’s department for a decade.

“Her job doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility, yet she has overcome the odds,” Balch said. “She also has a positive outlook and is excited about the possibilities that the future holds for her. She is just a good solid example of a hard-working TSTC student.”

Besides her work schedule and balancing her study and family time, Smith said her other challenges involved her parents each dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“It was difficult not knowing the outcome of their situations while attending classes,” she said. “Thankfully, they were stronger than the disease and are here with me now to celebrate.”

Smith recommended that females interested in technology pursue cyber security.

“Allow your dreams to become reality and make a mark on the world,” she said. “Explore all possibilities and interests. Everyone has something to offer, and that one thing may change everything about technology.”

Smith grew up in Wilmot, Arkansas, and graduated in 1999 from Hamburg High School in Hamburg, Arkansas.

She was in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Mississippi and Germany.

Smith plans to study information technology after graduating from TSTC.

“I hope my career in information technology allows me to find a great company to work for so that I can grow as an individual and a colleague,” she said.

TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement will include graduates from the North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the Waco Convention Center at 100 Washington Ave.

For more information about TSTC’s statewide commencement ceremonies, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

California Native Meets Design Challenges at TSTC

(WACO) – Marykate Danielson of Hewitt continues to California dream and learn to be a Texan who can write code and create websites.

“If you are good at technology, stay in it,” she said.

Danielson, 24, is a candidate for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Web Design and Development Technology at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2017 Commencement on Aug. 18 in Waco. She is one of three students in the program graduating this summer.

“It was super eye-opening and kind of fun,” Danielson said about her time at TSTC. “I wasn’t that overwhelmed at first, then the second semester hit.”

Her instructor, Matt Blansit, said he could see Danielson someday owning her own design and development business.

“She’s very headstrong in what she wants to do,” he said. “When she gets her mind onto things, she achieves the goals. She is not afraid to go above and beyond for others.”

She worked part time at a Waco hotel as she took classes and studied.

“It was hard and really tiring,” Danielson said.

Danielson grew up in California and graduated in 2010 from Granite Hills High School in Porterville, Calif. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014.

Danielson said she chose to study history because she had a dream of going into the U.S. Air Force. She also met her husband, an electrical engineer, who got a job at L3 Technologies Inc. in Waco, which brought the couple to Texas.

Danielson decided to go back to college because she needed to do more with her career. She credits her husband with suggesting web design as a potential career.

“I was working an administrative job and not having fun,” she said. “I felt like I was not using my creative side.”

Danielson said after graduation she will continue job searching in cities along the Interstate 35 corridor from Austin to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Texas had more than 8,500 web design jobs, with the Waco area having 70 of those positions as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC’s Summer 2017 Commencement will include graduates from the North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the Waco Convention Center at 100 Washington Ave.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Welcomes New Instructor, Program

(FORT BEND) – With more than 35 years of experience in his field, Dr. David Johnson comes to Texas State Technical College as the new Environmental Technology-Compliance Specialization instructor.

The United States Marine Corps veteran got his start at TSTC in Waco, when it was still Texas State Technical Institute, in 1975 earning his associate degree in Civil Engineering Technology.

“It feels great being back where my professional career began,” said Johnson. “TSTC is where it all started.”

Immediately after graduating he worked with various Texas-based companies doing surveying and drafting, until he was promoted to an environmental technician and inspired to work for the military and to continue his education.

“TSTC prepared me to work in the industry. It gave me the skills I needed,” he said. “My success is because of TSTC, and my goal as a new instructor is to get my students fully prepared for a rewarding career.”Dave Johnson

In 1987, he became an Environmental and Energy Coordinator for the U.S. Army in Germany and moved between the states and overseas over the course of his career from Fort Polk in Louisiana to Japan and Korea and back to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

The Irving native was promoted through the years to Environmental Training Manager and Environmental Compliance Manager positions. He was also the primary author for the Army Environmental Compliance Handbook.

During this time Johnson was also furthering his education. In 1994, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, in 1996 his master’s degree and in 1998 his Ph.D. in Environmental Science, all from Southwest University.

“It was such self-gratification and self-motivation going back to school,” said Johnson. “And it was my first degree, my associate degree, which got me to where I am today.”

In addition to federal jobs, which Johnson retired from in 2013, he has also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, as an adjunct instructor at Louisiana State University and for the Texas Department of Public Safety keeping within the environmental and hazardous material line of work. .

The now 65-year-old is back at work saying he needed something more to do than just playing golf.

“I had applied for a safety position at TSTC in Waco, but instead I was offered this position in Fort Bend,” said Johnson. “I was excited to accept it and I am ready to share all of my knowledge.”

Students who enroll in TSTC’s Environmental Technology–Compliance Specialization will have the opportunity to learn under Johnson’s instruction about how to apply science and technology to environmental issues and projects.

The program will not only offer classroom lectures, but also in-lab and off-site, hands-on experience working with soil, water and air sampling, performing chemical and safety audits at businesses and learning how to properly handle hazardous materials.

When the associate degree track is successfully completed, students can find jobs as environmental coordinators and consultants, environmental engineers, environmental scientists and specialists, environmental technicians and health and safety engineers.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is one of the largest employers of environmental technicians in the nation.

Environmental Technology-Compliance Specialization is already accepting students and will officially begin August 2017. The program will be housed at the Brazos Center, TSTC’s newest building in Fort Bend County.

For more information or to register for the Fall Semester visit

TSTC Honored with Regional Economic Development Award

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College in Waco was recently recognized regionally for being a shining star in economic development.

The technical college received the Star of the Southwest Award at the 2017 Southwest Region Executive Directors Association (SWREDA) Annual Conference in late July in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The organization is made up of economic development representatives from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Staff at the Heart of Texas Council of Governments Economic Development District in Waco nominated the technical college for utilizing $1.5 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding to help construct the James T. Connally Aerospace Center. The building was dedicated in May 2012.

“I think the significance of the award is to recognize the high quality programs that represent TSTC,” said Russell Devorsky, executive director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments.

TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison traveled to Louisiana to accept the award. While attending the conference, he networked with attendees and talked about the value of two-year colleges to economic development and job training.

“TSTC is all about economic development,” Hutchison said. “We are a public institution with economic development in its mission. We are funded through the state based on economic impact through our students.”

The aerospace building is named for Col. James T. Connally, a U.S. Army air corpsman who died May 29, 1945, during a raid over Yokohama, Japan. The structure is on the site of the former operations base for Waco Army Air Field, which became James Connally Air Force Base and is now the site of for Texas State Technical College.

TSTC provided $8.6 million in bonds and airport funds for the project with other financial help from the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, Bellmead Economic Development Corporation and the Texas Department of Transportation, according to SWREDA and the May, 4, 2012 edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The 82,000-square-foot structure houses TSTC’s Air Traffic Controller, Aircraft Airframe Technician, Aircraft Dispatch Technology, Aircraft Pilot Training Technology, Aircraft Powerplant Technology and Avionics Technology programs. More than 3,000 students have taken classes and trained at the center since its opening, according to SWREDA.

Devorsky said the award was great exposure for the technical college beyond Texas’ borders.

“I had several individuals ask for contact information because they had relatives or knew people interested in aviation training,” he said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Lorena Student at TSTC Looking Ahead to Machining Career

(WACO) – Sam Aguirre of Lorena does not want to waste time getting into his chosen career field.

“I want the experience of being able to become a toolmaker,” said Aguirre, a Machining certificate student in the Precision Machining Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Aguirre, 20, said his favorite aspect of the certificate program has been working on grinding and computer numerical control machines.

“With this career there are endless opportunities to move up and there is the job security,” he said.

Though he is scheduled to graduate in December, he has already gotten interest from at least one central Texas business.

“We get calls from companies in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin,” said Kacey Darnell, executive director of TSTC’s Career Services and Talent Management. “They have a need for precision machining graduates. It’s a skilled trade. A lot of times they have hired a student from here and it has worked out well.”

Texas had at least 26,000 machinists as of May 2016, with the largest concentration in The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Waco area had at least 200 machining jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that there will be at least 438,000 machining jobs in the United States by 2024.

Aguirre graduated in 2015 from Bruceville-Eddy High School, where he showed cattle as an FFA member and learned basic welding skills.

He started at another college as a physical therapy major and said he became fascinated with surgical equipment and how prosthetics were made. But he changed his mind and switched colleges and majors to pursue what he enjoyed.

“I thought that it would be a cool hands-on trade,” Aguirre said about machining.

Aguirre enrolled in fall 2016 at TSTC. He is keeping TSTC in the family – his mother studied in the Dental Assistant program on the Waco campus.

“A lot of the stuff they teach in high school is theory, but what they teach at TSTC is practical,” he said.

When he is not studying or working, Aguirre likes fishing and spending time with his fiancee.

The Precision Machining Technology program is offered at the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Williamson County campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Alumnus Designing His Career

(WACO) – Nathanael Hamilton of Longview works daily with visual appeal.

Hamilton, 28, is a customer service representative working with vending machine inventory at the Airgas Store in Longview. He sets up hardware and software for 11 vending machines filled with protective equipment and welding supplies. Hamilton also does technical support on the machines.

“Customer service skills help me to network with people while the hands-on experiences help me enjoy my work,” he said.

But Hamilton studied a different side of design – Digital Media Design – when he was a student at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He graduated in 2012 with the program’s associate degree. Digital Media Design graduates use customer service skills to work alongside clients and companies to analyze and research targeted audiences for graphics, logos, fonts and other aspects of design.

Hamilton said his workdays start at his desk, where he checks emails and gathers items for vending machines. Most of his work is done at businesses that have accounts with Airgas.

“He’s a critical part of the team,” said Jeffrey White, an Airgas account manager. “Right now he’s our only vending solutions guy in Longview. He fills the machines, troubleshoots them, and if there’s anything wrong, he helps us with those. Our service area goes from Longview to Tyler to the Louisiana border.”

Hamilton grew up in DeKalb in Bowie County and had what became a lifelong interest in creative mediums, like animation.

“I have always been fascinated with the idea of creating something that people enjoy, such as video games and films,” he said. “Some people read books for stories, but I watch films and play video games that are story-driven because I am a visual person.”

Hamilton graduated in 2007 from DeKalb High School.

“When I was in high school, I was in charge of a novel video yearbook that encompassed elementary, middle and high school images set to music,” he said. “Being able to be responsible for different stages of media translates into my current job by allowing me to multitask.”

He said in the future he wants to take the skills he has learned at Airgas and design video games and films.

“Don’t be afraid to learn things that are outside your degree plan because you never know when it may come in handy,” Hamilton said. “I have also learned basic welding skills, computer science basics and some painting skills.”

Though the associate degree program in Digital Media Design is no longer offered at the Waco campus, it is offered at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses. For more information on the program, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Women in Welding

(FORT BEND) – Don’t be afraid or intimidated. That’s the message that two Texas State Technical College students want to spread.

April Abitago-Thompson and Sara Rivera are the only two women currently enrolled in Welding Technology at TSTC in Fort Bend County.

April Thompson (left) and Sara Rivera (right)

“When I saw the campus being built while driving down the expressway I told my husband, ‘I’m going to enroll there,’” said Thompson. “I had no fear, I knew welding was what I wanted to do.”

Thompson, 33, now sees graduation around the corner. She will be receiving her certificate in Welding Technology in August during TSTC’s first Fort Bend County commencement ceremony to be held the Rosenberg Civic Center.

“I can’t wait to graduate and get my career started,” she said.

Pending a passing grade on her Certified Welding Inspector test, Thompson already has a job with a Bay City company as a Welding Inspector.

Before TSTC, the mother of four worked as a welder’s helper for nuclear plants and the oil industry.

“I didn’t want to be a helper for the rest of my life,” said Thompson. “TSTC is helping me change that. I’ve had the best experience and I’ve learned so much. TSTC has given me a career to be proud of.”

Thompson’s classmate, Rivera will also be earning her certificate in August, but will return to TSTC in the fall to pursue her associate degree.

The Rosharon native said it was her brother, who works for the oil industry, who introduced her to the possibility of a career in welding.

“What I immediately loved about welding was building something from nothing,” she said. “And now I see how I can take my career anywhere. Welding really can take you a long way.”

Rivera added that her goal is to work in fabrication, her favorite part of the program.

“TSTC is really setting my foundation,” said Rivera. “I appreciate every critique and piece of advice from my instructors, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field. I honestly feel prepared to work in the field.”

She hopes that by telling her story, other women will be encouraged to enter this or other male-dominated fields, and so she offers the following advice: “Work hard, do your best, be the best at what you do, don’t give up and show those men what you are made of.”

TSTC’s Welding Technology gives students like Thompson and Rivera the opportunity to learn how to work all of the equipment that is used in industry, while gaining real-world experience with hands-on training.

The program offers certificate and associate degree tracks in areas such as combination welding and advanced pipe welding.

Upon successful completion of the program students can expect to find careers in welding, in addition to, soldering and brazing, or as pipefitters and steamfitters, cutters and machine setters and operators.

Welding Technology Instructor Brooke Williams said Thompson and Rivera are driven to succeed in this field.

“Since I have known her, April knows where she wants to go with her career and has never lost sight of that,” said Williams. “She is always quick to help other students and isn’t afraid to seek advice on how to achieve her dreams.”

“As for Sara, she is a focused and hardworking student,” she added. “No matter how hard something is she never lets that stop her or bring her down.”

Welding Technology is offered at eight other TSTC campuses: Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County.

For more information or to register for Fall 2017 visit