Category Archives: Waco

90 Employers Visit TSTC for Industry Career Day

(WACO) – More than 90 employers visited Texas State Technical College Thursday for its annual Industry Career Day event, with nearly 650 job-seeking students in attendance.

Kacey Darnell, executive director of Talent Management and Career Services at TSTC, said the event gives students a chance to get to know employers.

“Industry Career Day gives employers a chance to show off their company,and it gives the students a chance to get a really great job,” Darnell said. “A lot of times students don’t know what kind of jobs companies offer. Last spring we had an Avionics student who came to Industry Career Day and ended up working for a company called True North Marine repairing the sonar equipment on the marine boats. It’s something that aligns but is totally different than what he was expecting, and he’s done really well.”

One company in attendance, the cosmetics company Mary Kay, has participated in TSTC’s Industry Career Day for five years. The company, which manufactures its own products, hires graduates to work on their production equipment.

“We currently offer an internship to hire, which is basically a 90-day probation period where they’re truly doing packaging mechanic work,” said Mary Kay associate HR business partner Nelissa Croach. “They do preventative maintenance and run their own lines, making sure the speed of the line is accurate. Some of the machines go 30 products a minute, where others are 137 products a minute. They have to make sure they’re able to program the machines to do those things. Also if there’s a jam, they have to figure it out and get it going.”

Croach said TSTC’s training aligns well with the knowledge of their longtime employees.

“A lot of the people we have there have been there for 20 plus years and haven’t been recently trained on the new technology,” she said. “So we have these guys coming in along with our long-term employees, and together it works out really well.”

Joe Razza, regional recruiter at Crown Lift Trucks, said the company often visits TSTC’s campuses to recruit those with electronics and mechanical backgrounds.

“We take those skills, hone them and put them through training to apply that to our technology,” Razza said. “We’ve had great success, and the caliber of students is great as well. The students, as far as professionalism goes, the questions they ask, how they present themselves and their knowledge base is off the charts.”

Darnell said she often sees TSTC alumni coming back to recruit.

“We have a lot of alumni representing their companies here,” she said. “They know the training they got from TSTC, and they know they can find skilled workers here.”

Sean Shannon, an Industrial Maintenance student who graduates in December, said this is his third Industry Career Day with TSTC.

“I ran out of resumes,” he said. “I had an on-the-spot interview, so it’s looking good. This is the biggest one I’ve been to. I think they’re going to run out of room here soon!”

Part of TSTC’s mission is to meet the workforce needs of Texas, and the college places a high importance on placing students and graduates in jobs. For more information on Texas State Technical College and the college’s placement efforts, visit

TSTC Honors Former Texas Representative with Building Dedication

(RED OAK) – The work that James R. “Jim” Pitts did while a member of the Texas House of Representatives is solidified for future students that walk through the building now bearing his name at Texas State Technical College in North Texas.

The Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center was formally dedicated Thursday morning at a plaque unveiling ceremony attended by Waxahachie and Ellis County leaders along with TSTC administrators and staff members.

Pitts said he appreciated the honor and that TSTC in North Texas is in a great location in proximity to the Dallas – Fort Worth area.

“I’m thrilled to see something you dreamed about become a reality,” Pitts said.

Pitts was a Republican member of the state House of Representatives representing House District 10 from 1993 to 2015 and was chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations. He was named one of the state’s 10 Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

“I miss the legislature and I miss doing good things for Ellis County,” Pitts said.

TSTC Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Mike Reeser said he first met Pitts during the 2013 Texas legislative session. Pitts told him he had a goal of bringing technical education to the county’s residents to become contributing members of the workforce.

During the session, Pitts introduced legislation that was sponsored by Sen. Brian Birdwell authorizing the creation of a TSTC extension center in Ellis County. The extension center evolved in less than a year into today’s stand-alone campus. After a land deal with the Red Oak Independent School District, the building on North Lowrance Road formally opened in October 2014 and now houses the technical college’s 10 programs.

“He is your neighbor,” Reeser told ceremony attendees. “You had a guy who went to Austin and fought for your best interests in Ellis County.”

Pitts is a former member of the Waxahachie Independent School District Board of Trustees. He is an attorney and owner of Ellis County Abstract and Title Company in Waxahachie.

After the ceremony, The TSTC Foundation hosted a luncheon and visitors took building tours.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC’s New Program Offers Student a New Life

(FORT BEND) – Jerry Nieto is one of the first students in Electrical Power and Controls, a program in its first semester at the Texas State Technical College Fort Bend County campus.

Originally from Brownsville, Nieto first enrolled at the TSTC Harlingen campus in 2001 to pursue an associate degree in what was then Drafting and Design Technology.

Although he completed his classes and the job offers flooded in, Nieto never registered for graduation and never received his associate degree. Immediately after this he moved to New York with his sisters and never looked back.

“I sometimes wish I could turn back time and give my young self a pep talk,” said Nieto. “I don’t know what I was thinking back then. I could have had a stable, good-paying career. But I can only move forward now.”

Life altogether has not been bad for Nieto. He held onto a successful car sales job In New York before moving to Houston and going into business with his father-in-law. However, neither gig was something he could see himself doing long-term.

So, after nine years, Nieto and his father-in-law sold their fiber-optic cable business and Nieto started making calls to TSTC’s Harlingen campus wondering if it was too late to get his associate degree.TSTC EPC Student Jerry Nieto

“Time moves on and things change, but I figured it was worth the try,” he said.

Well, with nearly a decade gone by, some of Nieto’s credits didn’t count anymore and he would have to take new classes. Basically, starting all over.

“TSTC was great to me once, so I knew if I was going to start anywhere, it was going to be at TSTC,” said Nieto. “Lucky for me the Fort Bend County campus opened, because I am back.”

Barely reaching the halfway point in his first semester, Nieto said the Electrical Power and Control program is already exceeding his expectations.

“I’m a husband and father now with a different mindset,” he said. “I’m ready to learn. I understand the importance of an education and I’m ready for a new career.”

Nieto added he now understands the importance an education can have on his life and the opportunities TSTC provides for its students.

“Not only are classes hands-on, but our instructors are leaders in industry with extensive experience,” said Nieto. “That has to be appreciated, because that’s what gets students far.”

TSTC Electrical Power and Control Instructor Jonathan Bonkoske spent more than 30 years in the industry working in power distribution, electrical power and motor research and design.

In August, he made the jump to teaching to share his knowledge with students like Nieto and to help give them insight into the industry.

“Nieto is one of my students who I know has life experience and is eager to learn,” said Bonkoske. “I know it’s early into the semester, but seeing him work hard and jumping into his projects like he is, lets me know that he has a bright future. He has all of the qualities an employer looks for.”

Bonkoske said his goal is to share his experience with all of his students and teach them the hands-on skills they need to be placed in a good-paying job that will help build their career.

And as for Nieto, he said his goal is to learn as much as he can from Bonkoske and his peers, graduate with his associate degree and find a career that will help him support his family.

“This time around I’m taking advantage of everything TSTC has to offer me and I’m going to make the most of it,” he said. “I know they’ll give me the confidence I need to be one of the best in the industry.”

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s North Texas and Waco campuses. For more information visit,

TSTC Host Third Annual Counselor Update

(FORT BEND) – More than 70 high school counselors from across the Gulf Coast region, as far away as Goliad, attended Texas State Technical College’s Third Annual Counselor Update at its Fort Bend County campus on Friday.

The half-day program offered counselors a first-hand look into the technologies and services TSTC has to offer with a tour of the campus, including its newest building, the Brazos Center.

TSTC Director of Recruitment Dora Colvin said the goal of the update is to educate counselors on the importance of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer Fort Bend County and surrounding areas with its new campus.

“We are a fully accredited technical institution with passionate staff and faculty ready to provide an education that leads to a successful career,” said Colvin. “And we need the counselors to help us by taking information back to their students and parents about our campus and programs, so they can make an informed decision.”

3rd Annual TSTC Counselor Update

Throughout the day counselors were introduced to TSTC’s recruitment team, programs, certification and degree plans, admission processes and student eligibility requirements.

And TSTC Admissions, Dual Enrollment and Financial Aid set up resource tables for the counselors to visit with representatives from each department.

Madalina Noth, a counselor at Hastings High School from outside Houston said this is her second year participating in TSTC’s Counselor Update because she loved it so much the first time she decided to return.

“This is an excellent event that many of us look forward to,” she said. “A lot of my students have enrolled at TSTC and what they are doing for our area is great. I believe in the power of a technical education and what TSTC has to offer.”

Counselors were also treated to a lunch catered by TSTC Culinary Arts graduate Ben Pustejovsky, owner of the popular Ben’s Chuckwagon in Wallis, Texas.

Other activities included a student and departmental faculty lead panel representing the 10 programs offered at the campus with a question and answer session for the counselors.

“I’ve been working closely with TSTC for some time now and what I love is the passion that everyone on campus exudes. You can tell they love what they do and that’s how I know it’s an excellent place to send my students,” said Noth.

TSTC Student Recruitment Coordinator Marigold Sagrado said she hopes this update will give counselors a better understanding of what TSTC offers and will establish a long-term collaboration between TSTC and the surrounding school districts.

“We want to continue growing our partnerships in the area so that we can serve our community the best way we can, and that is to provide the technical training needed to helps students succeed and place more Texans, she said.

Colvin added that the she is thankful for what counselors do every day for their students and the college.

“Many times these counselors encourage students to enroll at TSTC, but most of all to go to college in general,” she said. “They do a lot and we appreciate them.”

For more information on the programs offered at TSTC, visit

International Visitors Tour TSTC Radiation Protection Program


(WACO) – Twenty visitors from 10 countries toured several instructional programs at Texas State Technical College on Wednesday, Oct. 25, as part of a joint collaboration between TSTC and the Nuclear Power Institute at Texas A&M University that began in 2007.

The visitors are industry professionals representing a variety of international government organizations and institutions of higher learning.

The one-day stop at TSTC was part of an International Atomic Energy Agency interregional training course designed to familiarize participants with the physics and technology behind water-cooled nuclear reactors.

Jacob Navar, TSTC Radiation Protection Technology instructor, led a campus tour that included the radiation lab and the Welding Technology and Electrical Power and Controls programs.

“My goal is to facilitate relationships and education about radiation protection,” Navar said. “It’s helpful for them to come and learn about it so they can take back what they have learned.”

Navar gave the participants a short history of TSTC and the Radiation Protection program before introducing Adam Hutchison, provost of TSTC’s Waco campus.

“What you’re experiencing today on this campus is not only a Texas partnership with our local legislature and institutions like Texas A&M, but it’s truly a global partnership,” Hutchison told the attendees. “The skills that we teach our students we hope prepare them for the world of work no matter where they are. We can serve the state of Texas and truly the entire world with the training the students get here.”

Mamadou Kanoute, a visitor from Senegal’s Ministry of Energy, voiced his excitement at visiting TSTC and seeing equipment firsthand.

“I’m delighted to be here at TSTC,” he said. “I’m a nuclear engineer. I am very happy because I have only seen (this) equipment in video. This is very useful to me because I can see the equipment in person. I will go back and inform the ministry about all I have seen. I want to send students from my country so they can study here.”

Texas District 56 Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson was also in attendance to welcome the group.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas has the second most Environmental Science and Protection Technicians in the nation, with O*Net Online reporting that the state’s percentage of jobs in the field is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2024.

The Nuclear Power Institute is a unique statewide partnership led by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and headquartered at Texas A&M.

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Hosts Women in Technology Day

(WACO) – Sylvia Howard, 14, visited Texas State Technical College for the first time Thursday.
And, she was pleased with what she saw.
“It was good,” said Howard, a freshman Project Link student at La Vega High School. “I learned about computers and how to use them. I enjoyed working with the video games. Definitely, college is in my future.”
Howard was among several Project Link students from La Vega, University and Waco high schools to attend TSTC’s Women in Technology Day. They were among more than 250 females from area high schools seeing firsthand several technical career possibilities, from Avionics Technology to Visual Communication Technology.
“We had a successful event, and this was probably one of the biggest crowds at a Women in Technology Day,” said Angela Evilia, assistant director of TSTC’s Advisement Center and an event organizer.
TSTC faculty members and students gave tours and worked alongside the high school visitors with hands-on demonstrations. In Building Construction Technology, students worked with premade wood carvings and learned tool safety while the visit to Aviation Maintenance consisted of stepping into the cockpit of a parked jet on the flight line at the technical college’s airport.
Skylar Shaw, 17, a senior at Oglesby High School in Coryell and McLennan counties, said she enjoyed seeing the possibilities of nontraditional careers for women. Shaw said she liked her visit to the Electrical Power and Controls program, where she learned about wiring.
“It got me out of my bubble,” she said.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to



TSTC Q&A with Jennifer Dickman of China Spring

(WACO) – Jennifer Dickman, 24, of China Spring is an Avionics Technology major at Texas State Technical College.

She enrolled at TSTC in January and is scheduled to graduate in summer 2018 with an associate degree.

Dickman grew up in Newburgh, New York and graduated in 2011 from Newburgh Free Academy. She spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

How did you become interested in the military? “I always admired a person in uniform. Growing up, I was drawn to military members.”

What was your job in the Marine Corps? “I was an aviation electrician for F18s. It was something I got put into. I worked on the flight line, where I did troubleshooting and a lot of harnessing. I would also check the aircraft before taking off.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I recently moved to China Spring because my husband is in the Marine Corps as a recruiter in Hewitt. I was in a slump and I wrote on a veterans help page on Facebook. A Navy veteran messaged me and said with my background and being a woman and a minority that I should get my education. She looked up colleges in the area and told me about TSTC and the Avionics Technology program. I am using the GI Bill to go to college.”

How do you like studying Avionics Technology? “A lot of what I have noticed is component-based. It’s more in-depth learning here. If I didn’t do an electronics field in the Marine Corps, I would have had trouble having a technical mind. It would have been a cultural shock.”

Do you work on campus? “I am a work-study in the Veteran Center in the Student Services Center. I get to work with veterans and have a commonality that a lot of people don’t get to share.”

What advice would you give to women thinking of studying in a technology field? “Reach out to people currently in the field. It’s something doable and something to learn. It’s something that changes all the time and it’s a great chance for a career.”

The number of avionics technicians is expected to grow nationally to 17,500 jobs through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas had 1,890 avionics technicians as of May 2016 with an average mean wage of $57,800. Avionics jobs in Texas are centered in the Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Computer Students Break Gender Barriers

(WACO) – Emily Hunter and Liz Upshaw took different routes toward the technology degrees they are pursuing at Texas State Technical College.

And both said if they had more encouragement when they were younger, they would have pursued their aspirations earlier.

Hunter, 41, of Waco is a dual Cloud and Data Center Management and Cyber Security major scheduled to graduate from TSTC in 2018. She has already been working with cloud management as an administrative assistant at Fuzzy Friends Rescue in Waco.

“What I’m doing now is really fun,” Hunter said. “I’ve had some jobs that have been boring.”

Upshaw, 41, of Waco is a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major scheduled to graduate from TSTC in 2018.

“I’ve always been interested in technology,” Upshaw said. “I’ve fixed VCRs, stack players. Growing up, I was constantly with my father and his brothers and cousins with tools and fixing things.”

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women nationwide earn only 18 percent of computer and information science degrees.

Carol Scheler teaches Cyber Security and Digital Forensics and has been at TSTC in Waco for 19 years. She is also a TSTC alumna with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. She said while in college she recognized there were few female instructors and students.

“I knew coming in it was male-dominated, but I wanted to go to school and get the skills and get a job,” Scheler said.

Scheler said she became interested in technology while taking a computer class in high school.

“I learned I had a natural knack for it,” she said.

Both Hunter and Upshaw came to TSTC with prior college experience but armed with vastly different degrees.

Hunter said she grew up being encouraged to read and play mathematics games. After graduating from high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eurasian Studies from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She thought about going an academic route into a career but decided not to pursue that.

Upshaw studied physical education at the University of Mary Hardin – Baylor in Belton, where she also played basketball with a dream of being a coach.

Upshaw said she decided to go back to college to further her learning of technology. She said she learns best with hands-on work and has been more focused with her studies.

“It was an eye-opener for me and made me realize I didn’t know as much as I thought,” she said.

Upshaw said after graduation she wants to work and pursue a Computer Maintenance Technology degree from TSTC. But, she said what would fulfill her more is opening a business to fix, sell and teach people how to use computers at an affordable cost.

“A lot of it is getting your foot in the door,” Upshaw said.

Texas had more than 350,000 computer and mathematical occupations as of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the jobs included computer network architects, computer user support specialists and database administrators. In Waco, there were more than 1,800 jobs with an average mean wage of $68,380 as of May 2016.

Hunter said motivating more females to pursue technology careers and take more mathematics classes should start as early as preschool.

“I think there is a cultural thing in general,” Hunter said. “If you are a girl and your phone breaks, you take it to the store to get fixed. Girls are not encouraged to take things apart and see how it works.”

Scheler said she has noticed more females, especially nontraditional ones, taking computer classes at TSTC.

“The stereotype is being broken down,” she said. “Women are being encouraged to go into the technology fields.”

TSTC will have Women in Technology Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. The day will expose about 300 area high school female students to science and technology fields with demonstrations and tours. There will also be a professional panel discussion.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC in Waco Q&A with Alex Cardona of Round Rock

(WACO) – Alex Cardona, 23, of Round Rock is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He is also vice president of the technical college’s SkillsUSA chapter.

Cardona is a 2012 graduate of Round Rock High School.

How did you become interested in Automotive Technology? “I have always been interested in vehicles and I like to work on the classics. My grandfather and stepfather were both mechanics.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “A family friend of mine went to TSTC for Auto Collision and Management Technology and I looked into the technical college online. I applied and then came to visit. I really liked it. TSTC is a good fit. I’m here and I’m doing really well.”

What is a day like in the Automotive Technology garages? “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a learning experience. We do things here that we can’t do at other schools. We also work on real-life vehicle problems. There is a lot you need to know and I like challenges.”

Are Fridays special in your technical program? “Every Friday during the semesters we get to diagnose vehicles with actual problems. We do that for TSTC students, faculty and staff. It’s free labor and all you have to do is pay for the parts. We do a great deal of customer service work and explain what is wrong with their vehicle. It teaches the students how to talk to a customer. It teaches responsibility.”

What do you like to do when you are not in class or studying? “I like to go to car shows and hang out with my friends. I love to go swimming at Blue Hole in Georgetown and also jump off the big cliff there.”

What advice would you give to high school students thinking about college and their careers? “I would tell them to give a technical college a shot.”

What are your plans after graduation in 2018? “I am thinking about working for a dealership or the Texas Department of Transportation. At TxDOT, it’s maintaining the fleet they have, from off-road to state vehicles.”

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are expected to grow to about 779,000 workers nationwide by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were more than 47,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics working in Texas for an annual mean wage of $41,760 in May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Waco, there were more than 530 workers with an annual mean wage of $37,340. In the Austin – Round Rock area, there were 3,580 employees with an annual mean wage of $46,440.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Local Childhood Friends Mark Another Milestone at TSTC

(FORT BEND) – Since kindergarten, the relationship between three childhood friends has withstood the test of time, experiencing nearly every milestone together including college graduation.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology graduates Israel Grimaldo, Jose Acosta and Carlos Nieto recently earned certificates in their field and celebrating yet another commencement together.

TSTC Graduates

“What are the odds that nearly 18 years later we’re still friends? They’re like my brothers,” said Nieto. “I’m so proud of us and how far we’ve come. We’re making something of ourselves.”

All three friends are Rosenberg natives and have graduated from Bowie Elementary School, B.F. Terry High School and TSTC together.

With nearly everything in common, it came as no surprise to their family and friends when they all chose to pursue welding.

Nieto, who graduated from TSTC with honors and a 3.5 grade-point average began his welding journey his freshmen year of high school.

In fact, all three friends were attracted to the field early on because of the hands-on work and the job opportunities available.

“I love building stuff and working with my hands,” said Nieto. “This is the perfect career for me.”

Acosta, who has two uncles who work in the field, added, “The idea that I can receive an affordable education, get a certificate and get a good job right off the bat is attractive.”

High School Graduation

Nieto said he already bought a welding machine and is doing freelance jobs in repair and maintenance and some construction projects.


In fact, in addition to the hands-on learning they receive at TSTC, all three men have already worked in the field performing odd jobs here and there to help pay for school.

They agree they are fully prepared to tackle the industry, but for one the job hunt came sooner rather than later.

The original plan was for all three men to return to TSTC in the fall to pursue an associate degree and have one more graduation together, but Acosta decided on a different path.

“TSTC was a great choice for me, I think for all of us,” said Acosta. “I’m more than ready to start my career, I don’t want to delay it anymore, and because of the training I received I am fully prepared and confident to do so.”Kindergarten Graduation

Acosta is working for a Houston-based pipe making company as a pipe maker and hopes to someday pursue his associate degree, but said he is happy with his decision to work for now.

As for Nieto and Grimaldo, Hurricane Harvey set back the first day of school by nearly one month, but they are back and ready to graduate together with an associate degree in May one last time.

“Luckily all of our families were okay. We had to evacuate, but we were all blessed that we had our homes to come back to,” said Nieto. “And we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and finish.”

For more information on TSTC Welding Technology visit