Category Archives: Waco

TSTC helps students fight hunger

(FORT BEND) – Hunger and homelessness is widespread among college students and to help battle this issue Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County has set up a student food pantry.

TSTC Campus Enrollment Executive Georgeann Calzada said the mission of the pantry is to provide struggling students with meals.

“The goal with all of our support resources is to fill a gap for our students until we have a permanent solution and/or they are able to get back on their feet with the support of one of the many community organizations we work with,” said Calzada. “Food insecurities are great concern across college and university campuses.”

On average, the food pantry at TSTC will assist at least five students a week.

The pantry is filled with canned goods, cereals, soups, oatmeal, and toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“We realize our students enter college with outside factors that might impact their learning environment,” said Calzada. “Many of our students work paycheck-to-paycheck and try to make it with only five dollars in their pocket, so we want to help get them through this period in their life to get them on their way to a career.”  TSTC Student Food Pantry

Many of the items the pantry is stocked with are donations that come from TSTC staff and faculty and community businesses and neighbors.

The last large donation for the pantry came from Kroger’s, which donated $200 worth of food.

The pantry is primarily used for students, but when Hurricane Harvey hit, the outpouring of donations from TSTC campuses across the state and from the community allowed the pantry to be open  to faculty and staff in need as well during that period.

According to the recent study “Still Hungry and Homeless in College,” by researchers at Temple University and Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 42 percent of community college students describe themselves as food insecure, with one third saying they have skipped meals or eaten smaller portions to cut costs.

TSTC Student Government Association president Rene Escobar works at the pantry part-time assisting with restocking and organizing and said he has seen firsthand how the pantry helps alleviate student stress.

“Having a food pantry on campus helps make students feel at home,” said Escobar. “Students know they are welcome to come by anytime and get what they need. In turn, this allows them to focus more on school.”

Escobar, who is also a Diesel Equipment Technology student at TSTC, said he encourages students to use the pantry.

“Students should not be embarrassed about using the pantry. Sometimes there’s a negative stigma that surrounds asking for help,” said he said. “But this pantry is here for them. To help them in their journey to success. They should take full advantage of the service, it’s okay to ask for help.”

Calzada said she wants students to be aware that TSTC is there to assist them through every challenge and obstacle they face during their time at the college.

“Our pantry has made the progress needed with the continued growth of our campus and we will continue to provide the needed services for our students,” said Calzada. “Since we’re a commuter campus, fuel is also a big issue for our students, so with the support of our provost we’ve set funds aside for gas cards.  As long as the student continues to do his/her part to attend and pass classes then we’ll do everything in our power to alleviate struggles.”

For more information on the student food pantry or to donate, call 346-239-3422.

TSTC Auto Collision and Management Technology Program Receives National Grant

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program will soon buy new equipment because of a recently awarded national grant.

The program has received a $1,000 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover Grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation. The announcement was made in late October at the 2018 Speciality Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The money will be available in January.

High school and college auto collision programs undergo a rigorous application process to be considered for the grants.

Clint Campbell, TSTC’s statewide Auto Collision and Management Technology chair, said it took two months to complete the application, which includes information on the program’s budget and student job placement, as well as recommendations from industry representatives.

“It’s a good deal for the program,” Campbell said. “It makes sure you are doing things correctly and for the right reasons.”

Campbell said it is not only critical to the auto collision industry to teach students how to repair dents and paint, but also to use technology to reset collision avoidance systems being built for new vehicle models. Securing grants to purchase new equipment enables the program faculty to use money in areas where it is most needed.

John McIntyre, 33, and Blake McIntyre, 28, both of San Angelo, are working toward Auto Collision Refinishing certificates and are scheduled to graduate next summer.

The brothers chose to attend TSTC to learn techniques to use for a restoration shop they want to open in their hometown after graduation. They want to purchase older models of trucks, rehabilitate them and sell them at automotive auctions.

“Automotives are a passion,” John McIntyre said.

Blake McIntyre said he had an extra motivation for pursuing the certificate: He has been dissatisfied with past automotive paint jobs. He said his favorite class so far has been Automotive Plastic and Sheet Molded Compound Repair.

TSTC in Waco has about 90 students pursuing the program’s associate degrees and certificates.

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TSTC Technical Program Receives Recognition

(WACO) – An information clearinghouse for higher education rankings has put Texas State Technical College at the top of the power pole in Texas. has named TSTC as having this year’s best Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

“We want to maintain our current ranking in Texas, but we have aspirations to be No. 1 in the nation,” said Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide Distribution and Industrial Electrical Systems department chair. “TSTC never wants to be complacent as a technical college, as technology is changing every second.”

The TSTC program has 80 certificate and associate degree students this fall. The program accepts 35 new students each semester.

Some of the classes students take include Climbing Skills, Distribution Operations, Live Line Safety and OSHA Regulations – Construction Industry. The program mixes classroom lectures and hands-on learning at its on-campus pole lab. Program faculty teach the students about professionalism, teamwork and safety.

“If they are not good at the skills, they do not make it through this program,” said Cheryl Lloyd, a TSTC program maintenance specialist.

Eric Cobb, 32, of Copperas Cove is studying for the program’s associate degree and is scheduled to graduate in 2019.

Cobb learned about the career field by watching YouTube videos. Some of his favorite things about the work are troubleshooting and maintaining high-voltage electricity.

“I liked it because it is fun, dangerous and exciting,” he said. “There is more brain work that goes into it than people think.”

After graduation, Cobb wants to work in the Austin or Copperas Cove areas.

Theodore Lozano, 31, of Waco is scheduled to graduate with a program associate degree next year. He was attracted to the electrical field because of the physicality and not having to spend hours behind a desk.

“I definitely made the right decision career-wise,” Lozano said.

Lozano’s job plans are to relocate where he can make the best salary for his family.

Lloyd said students garner at least one job offer upon graduation. Some of the companies that have hired students include Austin Energy, Oncor and Pike Electric Corp.

“We are very lucky to have support from major power companies, cooperatives, municipalities and contractors that support us on our statewide advisory board committee that provides feedback on current curriculum needs and upcoming changing policies in the industry,” Carithers said.

TSTC also offers the Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Fort Bend County and Marshall.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC hosts second annual Counselor Update

(FORT BEND) – Counselors from across Fort Bend County and the Houston area recently gathered at Texas State Technical College for the Fort Bend County campus’ second annual Counselor Update.

Counselor Updates are hosted by TSTC across the state to keep counselors informed about admission, financial aid and changes in programs, and to give them the opportunity to hear from students and alumni and meet TSTC faculty and staff.

During the recent event, more than 70 counselors got an in-depth look into the 10 programs offered at TSTC in Fort Bend County, took a tour of the campus and heard firsthand about the impact TSTC has on students and alumni. The campus’ provost, Randy Wooten, also shared a few words with the counselors.

Millie Perez, a Houston Independent School District transition coach, voiced appreciation for the event and the opportunity to visit the campus.

TSTC in  Fort Bend Counselor Update

“This was my first Counselor Update and first time at TSTC. I’m very impressed,” said Perez. “I’ve really enjoyed my experience.”

Perez said she loves technical education and being able to have a part in helping fill the skills gap by learning about colleges like TSTC and the opportunities that are available for her students.

“I got an inside look at TSTC and got to explore the programs they offer,” she said. “I look forward to passing everything I learned on to my students so that they know this is a great postsecondary education option right in their backyard.”

TSTC student recruiter Yulonda Durst said the event was a success and that comments from counselors such as Perez made the achievement evident.

“Based on surveys, the counselors were very pleased with the programs they toured and stated they would definitely recommend TSTC to their students,” said Durst. “This event helped counselors realize that TSTC is not just another two-year technical college, but the start that their students need to get on the right career path.”

Durst said events like this help TSTC build relationships with counselors, career technology education teachers and school district administrators.

“Counselor Updates and other events like it help us build a pipeline from high school to TSTC that we as recruiters try to achieve during all of our recruiting events,” said Durst. “And one of our main goals is to provide information that counselors can use to help students who they deem are good candidates for TSTC so they understand the benefits we provide.”

Registration for Spring 2019 is underway. TSTC will host a Registration Rally, a one-stop registration event, at the TSTC Brazos Center on the Fort Bend County campus on Friday, December 7.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

TSTC Hosts Underclassman Day

(WACO) – Several middle school students received their first look at college life on Wednesday during Underclassman Day at Texas State Technical College.

More than 200 students from the Cleburne, Lockhart and McGregor school districts learned about technical programs, including Architectural and Civil Drafting Technology, Building Construction Technology and Industrial Maintenance.

“We had a good turnout,” said Melinda Calvillo, a TSTC student recruitment representative. “I think the early exposure for the students is really good.”

Kristina Cron, a mathematics teacher at Wheat Middle School in Cleburne, traveled with her school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), students.

“My hope is for them to find an interest or careers they never knew about,” she said.

Jolee McGuire, 14, and Erin Ramirez, 14, are eighth-grade students in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) in Lockhart. The students liked what they saw in the Biomedical Equipment Technology program.

“It was cool to see inside all of the equipment,” said McGuire.

Ramirez said she enjoyed seeing how TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology students fixed medical equipment.

The two students were impressed with their visit to the campus store. McGuire also appreciated seeing the small classes.

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TSTC HVAC alum exceeds own expectations

(HARLINGEN) – Laramie Christ always knew college was in his future, but out of high school he could not find one that was the right fit. That is, until he found Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

The Needville native was part of TSTC’s first Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) graduating class in the early 2000’s, when the college was still housed inside Wharton County Junior College (WCJC).

TSTC in Fort Bend County now stands on its own along Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg and includes two buildings: the Industrial Technology Center and Brazos Center that house 10 technical programs. The campus is expected to grow to hold at least eight buildings in the future.

“I wanted a career, but a four-year university was not for me,” said Christ. “I knew I could not sit still long enough to learn anything by book. I learn by doing.”

Christ was a student studying his academics at WCJC when he learned that TSTC was coming to town.

“I immediately loved TSTC’s hands-on approach, so I enrolled,” he said.Laramie Christ

After doing his research, the 37-year-old realized that HVAC was a sustainable and steady business, which meant job security for him.

“Everyone needs HVAC services, especially in Texas,” he said with a laugh. “It was the perfect program for me.”

Upon earning his certificate and associate degree in HVAC Technology from TSTC he gained immediate employment with a local residential HVAC company.

After three years and gaining experience, he applied with Johnson Controls in Houston and 14 years later he is still there and climbing the ladder.

“TSTC gave me the foundation I needed to build a successful career,” said Christ. “I knew I could find success, and TSTC allowed me to do that.”

Christ began at Johnson Controls as an apprentice/tradesman. Then he got promoted to a journeyman/technician and now he is a technical team lead and oversees 15 employees.

Through his work at Johnson Controls he services large chillers and air handling equipment for 90 percent of Houston hospitals, the University of Houston, Shell, Exxon and TSTC in Fort Bend County.

“It’s quite funny how I came to service TSTC,” he said. “I arrived at the campus to talk about an instructor position and left with a service contract. It’s pretty ironic.”

Christ, once a year, also teaches a two-hour HVAC chillers course at TSTC. It’s an in-depth lesson that includes a hands-on session.

He said he loves speaking with students, answering their questions and seeing in their eyes how much they love what they’re learning.

“I love TSTC and this is my way of giving back and helping students grow,” he said. “They have the desire to achieve success and we need them in the field.”

Christ said he is proud to give back to the college that allowed him to gain a career with great pay and benefits that allows him to support his family.

“I’ve been able to do very well for my family thanks to TSTC,” he said. “They have helped me exceed my own expectations.”

HVAC Technology is offered at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses.

For more information on HVAC Technology, visit

TSTC Alumna Finds Satisfying Career in Hutto

(WACO) – Sarah Elliott proves that the field of biomedical equipment technology is not just for men.

“It is kind of priceless to walk on-site and see the surprised looks on some of the technologists’ faces because they have never seen a woman in this business, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you prove you are just as capable of doing the job as a man,” she said.

Elliott, a Texas State Technical College alumna, is a biomedical equipment technician at KEI Medical Imaging Services in Hutto.

“We do place (graduates) in the Austin area,” said Mark Plough, TSTC’s biomedical and medical imaging technology statewide chair. “The way it is growing, I am sure we will see more graduates going there. The companies that come and hire our students are particularly interested in females.”

Elliott graduated in 2017 from TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program. She said she was glad to think through technical scenarios on similar equipment she would see in the field.

“There were only three women in my graduating class,” she said. “Since I have been in the field, I personally haven’t met any other female biomedical equipment technicians or field service engineers.”

Elliott learned about her employer from an acquaintance. On a recent week, her work took her to the Dallas and Houston areas to troubleshoot and calibrate machines.

“Walk on-site with confidence, and nobody will ever question your abilities,” she said.

Elliott said it is a challenge balancing work and family. She lives in Hutto during the week and travels to Coolidge on weekends to see her family.

She is a 2007 graduate of Coolidge High School.

“I have always been fascinated with taking things apart and putting them back together to see how things work,” Elliott said.

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TSTC Hosts National Challenger Center Director

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Challenger Learning Center is ready to send students off on new adventures.

Lance Bush, president and chief executive officer of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Washington, D.C., visited the campus Wednesday to talk to administrators and give a presentation on the center’s future worldwide plans.

Bush said when he visits centers and sees students performing experiments or working in Mission Control, he senses the excitement they have for space science.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s innovators,” Bush said.

Bush said new programs the national office is rolling out will inspire students in new ways.

The Aquatic Investigations program for third- to fifth-grade students and the Earth to Mars program for ninth- and tenth- grade students can be taught by teachers in classrooms using Challenger Center materials. These will be offered starting in the 2020-21 school year.

“Teachers are looking for content,” Bush said. “These are hands-on activities.”

The Challenger Center’s 43 locations in Canada, Great Britain, South Korea and the United States continue to offer a selection of eight on-site missions focusing on comets, Earth, Mars, satellites and other topics for elementary and middle school students.

“We have new missions at the center, including Mission to Mars starting in spring 2019, and are revamping and updating missions annually to keep up with the scientific and technological advances,” said Jeremy Hagman, a center coordinator. “Lance’s vision about helping support younger students through the Classroom Adventures project reinforces that we are indeed blessed to have him looking out for the organization.”

All of the lessons the Challenger Center offers to students are based on science data and align to current national education standards, Bush said.

Bush said students start deciding their career paths by fourth grade, but about half of them give up their interest by the time they enter eighth grade.

“Too many lose interest in STEM,” Bush said. “This limits opportunities in life and competitiveness abroad.”

Hagman sees potential opportunities for the local center catering to older children and adults.

“I see a place where companies can have retreats and learn trust, teamwork and communication just like the younger students,” he said. “I see a place where Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops can come and earn merit badges and work on projects. I see a place where home-schoolers can come on certain days and do missions.”

The center honors the astronauts who died Jan. 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed on the space shuttle 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 held a public grand opening in September 2016 and hosted its first school groups in early 2017. The center is the third in Texas, joining locations at TSTC in Harlingen and in San Antonio.

“The Challenger Learning Center at TSTC in Waco is a tremendous resource for STEM education for our local school districts,” TSTC Provost Adam Hutchison said.

For more information on TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center, go to

TSTC to Compete in NIFA Regional Competition

(WACO) –  Fabian Kiedels and Ethan Wood are ready to help fly Texas State Technical College to victory.

TSTC will compete against Central Texas College, Hinds Community College, LeTourneau University and Louisiana Tech University in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region 4 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 at Skylark Field Airport in Killeen.

Events include computer accuracy, landings, general safety, aviation knowledge, aircraft identification and navigation. All outdoor events and schedule changes are contingent on the weather.

Kiedels and Wood are returning competitors.

“It was overwhelming because it was new but exciting,” said Kiedels, 22, of The Woodlands.

Kiedels will compete in the power-off and power-on landing contest. He said being part of SAFECON enables him to learn and practice beyond the classroom, particularly on landings.

Wood, 20, of Dalhart will represent TSTC in the navigation event. Wood said taking part in the contest last year showed him what he needed to dedicate himself to in studying aviation. He said newer students have asked him lots of questions about what to expect from the intense competition.

The team has prepared in the classroom and in private ground school, with some practice days lasting until sunset.

Jessica Ogden, a TSTC flight instructor, was on last year’s SAFECON team as a student and is an adviser for this year’s group.

“I hope all the students are able to learn something new from their time spent in Killeen,” she said. “I hope they meet new people in aviation and make friendships that last a lifetime through this event. Even though it’s a competition, it never fails to be fun. I hope this team learns to enjoy their time as a student in aviation.”

Other TSTC students taking part include Grant Gonzales, Ken Hannes, Bebo Hudson, Michael Lairsen and Lauren Yates. Also advising the team is Shelby-Lynn Hubbard, a TSTC flight instructor.

The top three teams will be invited to compete at the 2019 national SAFECON.

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TSTC in Waco Hosts Women in Technology Day

(WACO) – Taylor Allen could not wait to meet as many as possible of the more than 250 high school students attending Thursday’s Women in Technology Day at Texas State Technical College.

Allen, 19, a TSTC Building Construction Technology major from Woodway, had a lot to tell and show.

“It meant being able to empower the high school students,” she said. “I want them to understand that hands-on work is 100 percent better than the book. Women are getting the jobs. Some of us are here to be No. 1.”

Students and faculty in Cloud and Data Center Management, Electrical Power and Controls, Laser Electro Optics, Visual Communication Technology and other TSTC programs showed off their skills and answered questions for the high school students. Students from the Connally, Itasca, La Vega and Waco school districts attended the event.

Tara Mulcahy, a health science technology teacher at Waco High School, wanted students to be exposed to different technical fields that female students are now pursuing at TSTC. She wanted to use the visit to boost the number of students participating in SkillsUSA and take that interest to the college level.

“It is extremely important to know they can do it and the opportunities are out there,” Mulcahy said.

Jessica Farmer, 18, a senior at Waco High School, enjoyed learning about electronics and digital forensics. Her career goal is to pursue film production.

One of the favorite parts of Farmer’s day was listening to a professional panel of employees from Tulsa-based natural gas and natural gas liquids company ONEOK.

“It really made me want to do technology in the future,” Farmer said.

Kaylee Payne, 16, a sophomore at Itasca High School, has an interest in space science and the medical field.

Payne and other students worked on picture frames while learning about the Building Construction Technology program. The students also learned about equipment safety.

“I liked the girls that were in there,” Payne said. “They were really nice, and it was cool seeing them doing everything.”

Payne also enjoyed touring the Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center, home to all of TSTC’s aviation programs, and seeing the airplanes and helicopters. She also got to experience a flight simulator.

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