Category Archives: Waco

TSTC Automotive Technology Instructor Connects with Students on Their Level

(WACO) — Texas State Technical College recently welcomed its youngest instructor in the Automotive Technology department.

Matthew Abel, 26, a Waco native and Midway High School alumnus, graduated from TSTC in 2013 with an associate degree in Automotive Technology. He will teach the Automotive Brake Systems and Introduction to Automotive Technology classes starting this fall.  

He is determined to provide guidance and support for his students and lead them to success.

“The biggest thing I learned in the industry was that it’s so important to have someone to look up to,” said Abel. “Out in the industry, if I had something I couldn’t figure out, I couldn’t go to anyone. I had to just sit down and figure it out.”

Abel was fast-tracked to a master certification in less than a year while he was working at Allen Samuels Fiat in Waco. Spending most of his time working on brakes, he gained valuable experience. But he wanted more time with his fiancee and son.

“Getting on with TSTC has been amazing,” said Abel. “I love how everybody wants to progress in a positive manner. Everyone is crazy nice, and if I have an idea, they hear me out even though I’m the new guy.”

Mentoring Abel as he transitions from a teaching assistant to instructor are TSTC Automotive Technology statewide lead Rudy Cervantez and instructor Richard Pickens.

“I found by having him as a lab assistant this past semester in the brakes class, he knows quite a bit about the new technologies that we older generation instructors lack,” Cervantez said. “He brings in new and improved ideas to our department.”

One of the biggest surprises for Abel was how positively his students responded to a younger instructor.

“It was kind of a shock,” Abel said. “They trust me with their questions, and they’ll come in after class for tutorials because I am seen as more of the buddy they can learn from rather than a teacher.”

Abel hopes to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore the automotive industry as a career opportunity.

“There are huge benefits, and (as a student) you don’t have to know anything when you come here. I had never touched a car before I came to TSTC,” Abel said. “By the time you get out of here though, you’ll be more confident and more prepared than most, with people ready to hire you on the spot.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent through 2026, creating a need for qualified technicians.

“If anyone has an interest in the automotive field or if they think that they do, it’s a great field to go into because not everyone can work on their cars, so there will always be work,” Abel said.

In his short time at TSTC, Abel has been affectionately dubbed “The Rookie” and earned praise from his co-workers.

“He’s been a great help to the department and to the instructors,” Pickens said. “He’s a big family man and does everything with his son in mind, so he makes sure it’s done right.”

Looking to the future, Abel sees great opportunities for the department and himself.

“I like the direction we’re going. The instructors have become friends, and my fiancee is happy and loves that I’m out here. I definitely see myself staying here and growing,” Abel said.

Abel started in spring 2018 as a teaching lab assistant for the Automotive Brake Systems class, which he continues to teach this summer. He is also the department’s safety officer.

Registration for fall classes at TSTC is underway.

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TSTC in Waco Student Restaurant to Open May 30

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program opens its student-operated restaurant for the summer semester on Wednesday, May 30.

The restaurant is at the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center on Campus Drive. The restaurant is open to the public, who this semester may dine on student-planned menus with themes such as Texas, Japan and France.

Meals are served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from May 30 to Aug. 17. The serving days and themes, which can be subject to change, are:

May 30 and June 1: Texas

June 6: Chef’s Choice Buffet

June 13 and 15: Japan

June 20 and June 22: Spain

June 27 and June 29: Scotland

July 6: Chef’s Choice Buffet

July 11 and July 13: France

July 18 and July 20: Central Mexico

July 25 and July 27: Cajun

Aug. 1 and Aug. 3: Italy

Aug. 8 and Aug. 10: Chef’s Choice

Aug. 15 and Aug. 17: Live-Action Buffet

Weekly menus will be posted on the Facebook page for the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center at TSTC in Waco.

To make reservations, call 254-867-3123. Visitors must arrive at least 15 minutes before their seating time.

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TSTC Names Block Campus Director

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County has named Darren Block as its new Campus Director and Campus Academic Manager.

Block retired from the Army in 2010 as a sergeant first class

“I was a motor sergeant or a maintenance supervisor,” he said. “I was in charge of the motor pool. I was in charge of machine shops, maintenance shops, welding shops. I retired as an E-7 sergeant first class, but I was doing the job of an E-8 first sergeant. So, a lot of admin stuff, a lot of running a company-sized element in the army. That’s what I did in the last 10 years.”

After retiring, he attended TSTC in Waco and graduated from the college’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (now Precision Machining Technology) program with a 4.0 GPA.

“I wanted to become an engineer, and that was the liaison in between the two,” Block said.

After working in the field for a while, Block paid a visit to TSTC in Waco to update his machining software.

“Well, I went to Waco for software, and while I was there, Mr. Rodriguez (Jose Rodriguez, statewide division director of Production Manufacturing) asked me if I’d ever considered teaching,” Block said. “I said I hadn’t, and he asked, ‘Would you? We’d really like to have you.’ So I applied for it, and they hired me.”

Block began teaching Precision Machining at TSTC in Williamson County in 2014 in the early stages of the program and grew to love the profession.

“I really love technical school,” he said. “You can walk into any program here and ask the guys anything. They’re the product-knowledge experts. So if I have a problem with HVAC, I go talk to those guys. They’ll troubleshoot with me right here, right now. Or welding — I’m taking welding classes. You can learn anything you want to. That’s the best part.”

Though his new position focuses more on the management side of things, Block is glad to lend support to his colleagues.

“It’s broader,” he said. “I’m more involved in streamlining ways to teach or processes, like when we order tools or expendables, I’m making that process easier and more efficient. We’re working on making syllabi easier for instructors so they don’t have to spend time doing that when they could be spending time on teaching. I’m trying to do the background legwork for them.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said Block is a great asset to the leadership team.

“We are pleased to have a proven leader at the helm of our student learning operations and proud that one of our own, a TSTC graduate, is leading our instructional team on campus,” he said. “Darren has already proven that he has the subject-matter expertise to effectively manage our instructional programs, and as we grow, we will continue developing our leadership team internally.”

Block said he is happy to be in a position where he can effect change.

“I’m glad that I am in a position where I can make a difference, a good one,” he said. “That’s the main reason I took this position.”

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit

TSTC, Belton High School Participate in Joint SkillsUSA Simulation Contest

(WACO) – For Texas State Technical College students Joseph Hermann and Andres Zapata, Friday was a homecoming.

The Belton residents and TSTC Building Construction Technology majors visited Belton High School to take part in a simulated SkillsUSA TeamWorks build with students from their high school alma mater. The two groups will represent Texas at the 2018 National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I want to see them succeed,” said Craig Sullivan, a construction trades teacher who taught Hermann and Zapata at the high school. “We want TSTC to be national champions as much as I do Belton.”

The groups worked in the shade of the high school’s career technical education building, which has a view of Tiger Field, home of the Belton Tigers. Some students watched as they walked by while changing classes.

“It is bittersweet coming back here,” said Hermann.

Students worked with building plans drawn by Michael Carrillo, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor, with input from Sullivan.

Carrillo said he designed the blueprints to be more difficult than what the students will encounter when they compete in Kentucky. The purpose was to develop the students’ decision-making skills and adaptability to various situations.

Randy Pittenger, president of the Belton Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, was one of the few school district leaders stopping by to see the build.

“It’s just interesting to see how they motivate each other,” he said. “SkillsUSA is a great program to prepare for job readiness.”

The TSTC group won first place at the SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary State Leadership and Skills Conference held in early April in Waco.  Besides Hermann and Zapata, the team is made up of recent TSTC BCT graduate William Chance and electrical construction student Ricardo Delgado.

Delgado, 25, a lead electrician at Britco Structures USA in Waco, is new to SkillsUSA.

“This is the first practice, so I’m getting the feel of what will happen at nationals,” he said.

Hermann and Zapata said the team needed more practice before traveling to Kentucky.

“This has been a big wake-up call,” Zapata said. “Expectations are high. It feels good to work with this group again.”

Hermann and Zapata were on last year’s high school team that won the state and national TeamWorks titles.

The Belton group placed first at the state secondary SkillsUSA TeamWorks contest in early April in Corpus Christi. The team includes seniors Bailey Eickenloff, Antonio Hernandez, William Glaser and Lyhue Penny.

“At Belton High School, we believe SkillsUSA and TeamWorks give skills and experience to students to walk out of the classroom and go into the workforce,” said Jill Ross, principal.

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TSTC swears in new Board of Regents members

(FORT BEND) – Administration officials at Texas State Technical College welcomed two new regents to the TSTC family during a dinner and special meeting of its Board of Regents at the college’s Fort Bend County campus in Rosenberg last week.

The two new regents, Charles “Pat” McDonald of Richmond and Tiffany Tremont of New Braunfels, were sworn in after being appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in February for terms ending in February 2023.TSTC Regents Swearing In

TSTC Board of Regents Chairman John K. Hatchel of Woodway was also reappointed by the governor; he was first appointed to the board in September 2011.

“TSTC is a great college that does great things,” said McDonald. “I’m honored to be part of the work they’re already doing, and my goal is to work closely with the board members in getting the legislative funding we need.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser described McDonald as an asset to the board.

“Mr. McDonald’s extensive professional experience in the not-for-profit sector and in economic development will be a great resource for the Board of Regents,” said Reeser. “We’re especially honored to have representation from Fort Bend County, which is home to our newest TSTC campus.”

McDonald, who holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University, serves as president and chief executive officer of the Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation. He is also a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, director of the Morton Cemetery Association and the Winston Foundation, and is a former trustee and chair of the George Foundation.

Tremont, who is founder, president and CEO of Silotech Group Inc., said she is excited about her new appointment.

“I’m honored to have been trusted by the governor’s office for this appointment,” said Tremont, a service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “My goal is to grow the number of women who pursue cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and mathematics educations and careers.”

Tremont holds a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems management from the University of Maryland University College, where she is completing a Master of Science degree in cybersecurity management and policy. She is a former vice president of the Young Alamo chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and a former president of the National Association for Female Executives San Antonio.

“Ms. Tremont brings leading-edge-level technical experience and has achieved an outstanding level of professional success,” said Reeser. “Likewise, TSTC has robust offerings in IT and cybersecurity, so we’re excited to have her unique perspective as part of our governing body.”

Hatchel, who is serving his second term, is also the former chairman of the TSTC Board of Regents’ Finance Committee.

Before retirement, Hatchel served for 33 years in municipal administration in various cities in Texas, including Abilene, Plainview and Waco.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University). He is a life member of the Texas City Management Association and the International City Management Association, and a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Texas Legal Board of Directors and the State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Minimum Continuing Legal Education.

“I am very pleased and glad that I was appointed for another term,” said Hatchel. “It’s great being a part of the TSTC family and working toward creating a quality workforce for Texas. I am very passionate about what the college does, and I sing praises about TSTC wherever I go.”

Hatchel added, “I always tell people that the way you spell TSTC is J-O-B-S.”

Leaving the board is Joe M. Gurecky of Rosenberg, appointed in 2006 and reappointed in 2011, and Joe Hearne of Dallas, appointed in 2006 and reappointed in 2011.

Lorena Business Owner Uses TSTC Drafting and Design Experience for Construction Work

(WACO) – There are two years that have been pivotal in Charlie Montgomery’s career.

One was 1978, the year he graduated from what was Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College) with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting and Design.

“I was able to gain knowledge to go forward in life,” said Montgomery, 60, of Lorena.

Then there was 1988. Montgomery’s brother committed suicide, and he felt the need to stop what he was doing and move as far as he could from Waco. So, he moved to Fort Worth, where he lived and worked for four years.

But Waco pulled him back.

“This was home,” he said. “It was where all my family was. I started to get my life in order again.”

He started C.O. Montgomery Construction Services LLC in Lorena in 1995 with a pickup truck, a handsaw and tools, and no employees. He learned quickly how well-developed people skills can help build a business.

“The thing that helped me the most was the Jarrell tornado,” Montgomery said. “I started to learn how to weld. I designed and sold 63 storm shelters.”

He said one of the hardest parts of having a business is the management, from taxes to insurance.

His company has 10 employees and also hires subcontractors. He wants to work with TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program to provide internships and fill needs for estimators.

“Us older guys are dying out,” Montgomery said. “In our day, we sacrificed to do what we had to do to get the job done.”

One of the jobs Montgomery’s company is doing is building Bush’s Chicken locations throughout Texas. The restaurant being built in China Spring is how Bobby Horner, a city of Waco inspection supervisor and classmate of Montgomery’s at TSTC, reconnected after years of taking different career pathways.

“It was neat to see Charlie around,” Horner said. “Charlie has done everything we have asked with the project.”

Keith Bush, founder of Bush’s Chicken, said Montgomery is his preferred builder. Bush’s Chicken uses a standard 3,000-square-foot design for all locations.

“It’s so comfortable and reassuring knowing Charlie is on your project because you don’t have to worry,” Bush said. “With other contractors, you have to worry they will do something that is not in your best interest. He does what is in the best interest in the buildings he builds and the work he does.”

Montgomery grew up in McLennan County and graduated in 1976 from Midway High School.

“I was always artistic and did a lot of drawing,” he said.

He said taking drafting classes at Midway helped prepare him for TSTC.

“The trades are completely ignored,” Montgomery said. “If the schools focused on that, it would help prepare the students.”

He was hired for a drafting job after his first semester in college and after graduation worked for Centurion Mobile Homes in Waco designing mobile homes. One project he remembered was building their own hydraulics testing mechanisms for trusses.

“I had a knack for designing things and laying things out and making it work,” he said.

Montgomery said his later work drafting and designing at Bob Hoover Construction in Waco opened his eyes to the construction side of designing. He said he valued his time observing the building process on-site at projects.

“We need drafting and construction taught together,” Montgomery said. “Each needs to know about the other.”

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TSTC machining lab dedicated to regent, local leader

(FORT BEND) – In what was an emotional Texas State Technical College Board of Regents meeting, outgoing regent Joe M. Gurecky was recognized for his service to the college, the manufacturing industry and the community.

At that special meeting a resolution of appreciation was presented to Gurecky and in a rare and distinguished tribute the lab inside the Industrial Technology Center was named the Joe M. Gurecky Machining Laboratory.
“I am overwhelmed and moved with emotion,” said Gurecky. “I never expected to have the lab named after me. It is a true honor.”
Gurecky was appointed as a TSTC Regent by Governor Rick Perry on June 9, 2006, and reappointed on September 1, 2011, serving more than a decade.
It was also some 15 years ago, as Mayor of Rosenberg and sitting on the Rosenberg City Council, that he worked diligently to bring TSTC to the community.
“It is impossible to state the importance Joe Gurecky has had on TSTC,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “And I want to note that without his contribution, TSTC in Fort Bend County may have never happened.”
TSTC Board of Regent Chairman John Hatchel shared Reeser’s sentiment.TSTC Regent Joe Gurecky and wife Doris Gurecky
“It’s going to be difficult to replace Joe,” said Hatchel. “He added stability and wisdom to our decisions.”
A product of technical education, Gurecky knows first-hand the impact it can have on a person’s life and calls it a privilege to provide the same opportunity to the community.
“The doors of opportunities that opened for me because of my technical education was remarkable,” said Gurecky. “And I, along with my wife Doris, want to give the same opportunities to the students of TSTC.”
Gurecky and his wife have donated more than $100,000 for scholarships and the Chancellor’s discretionary fund, which is used to facilitate the institution’s needs.
Gurecky always gives credit where credit is due; he said he could not have spent the last 12 years as a regent, or the last six decades pursuing his career, without the support from his wife and family.
“I couldn’t have done what I have done alone,” he said. “This is as much their accomplishment and honor as it is mine.”
Gurecky spent 27 years working for Baroid Corporation, a Houston-based oil and gas industry production company, before using his family’s life-savings in 1983 to open Gurecky Manufacturing, which operated out of his garage with only three machines.
Since then, the company has undergone significant growth and is now housed in a 40,000-square-foot-facility filled with state-of-art precision manufacturing machines.
And although Gurecky will no longer serve as regent, he said he will continue to work closely and share his experiences and advice with TSTC as a mentor for students, and assist with recruitment efforts.
“Joe and Doris are pillars of this community and to have Joe serve as a regent has been a distinct privilege for TSTC,” said TSTC Field Development Officer John Kennedy. “He has brought a unique perspective to the board and we will forever be grateful for his years of service to the college.”
Kennedy added, “Joe and Doris are financially vested in TSTC. As a result of their generosity more than 150 students have been able to attend classes at our Fort Bend County campus.”

Community Celebrates TSTC Growth in Fort Bend County

(FORT BEND) – Residents and community leaders of the Fort Bend County community toured the new Brazos Center today as part of an Open House for the new building on the Texas State Technical College campus.
The Brazos Center, a 57-thousand-square-foot building, first opened for classes in Fall 2017 and a dedication had been scheduled for last October, but was postponed due to Hurricane Harvey.
“We’re late celebrating this new building but no less excited to be here and have new offerings for the students of this region,” said Provost Randy Wooten. “Nature is bigger than we are but we bounced back with little negative impact to enrollment.”
The Brazos Center houses four new programs: Robotics Technology, Electrical Power & Controls, Environmental Technology – Compliance specialization and Electrical Lineworker Technology. There are now a total of 10 programs being offered at the Fort Bend County campus.
“The programs were all chosen strictly to serve market demand,” explained Associate Vice President of Student Learning Bryan Bowling. “We work closely with industry and have chosen high performing and high placement programs to meet industry demand and assure there’s a job for every graduate.”

TSTC Brazos Center Open House

The Brazos Center also provides space for various student support services, including recruiting, student accounting, veterans’ programs, financial aid, admissions, bookstore and a learning resource center.
But it was the state-of-the-art equipment that most impressed one touring guest. Enrico R. Giannetti, president of Dorian Tool International, which specializes in the research and development of highly technical, innovative tooling, has already hired a graduate from the Precision Machining program and his own son recently started attending classes at TSTC.
“This is outstanding. The technology here is great. It’s the future of technology and manufacturing in Texas. The region, the state, we’re all going to benefit from having TSTC here,” said Giannetti.
TSTC’s Fort Bend campus has been built with the financial support from the city of Rosenberg, city of Richmond, city of Sugarland, Fort Bend County, Sprint Waste Services, the George Foundation and the Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation. The municipalities and foundations made more than $40 million in contributions to help TSTC expand its educational opportunities in the region.
This summer there are 300 students enrolled in classes and that number will jump to 500 in the fall. TSTC enrollment is on track with growth predictions and Provost Wooten is already planning ahead.
“We have exceeded expectations. We anticipate outgrowing our space and needing building number three in about three years,” explained Wooten. “We’re already meeting, talking about need and starting the groundwork for future growth.”
Ultimately, the TSTC campus in Fort Bend County will boast six to eight buildings and be able to serve a projected enrollment of 5,000 students.
TSTC serves Texas through 10 campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County. TSTC has graduated more than 100,000 students into the state workforce in its 50-year history.
For more information on TSTC in Fort Bend, visit

TSTC Graduates 12 at First Commencement

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College celebrated its first commencement ceremony in Hutto Friday, May 11. Twelve graduates walked the stage in the presence of their family and friends.

“Today is a celebration of our graduates and recognition of all they have accomplished,” TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said. “Tonight’s ceremony acknowledges the completion of study and dedication by our spring graduates and signifies the beginning of their professional careers.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He urged the students to keep learning.

“Technology is moving constantly,” Reeser said. “You picked the best school you can possibly attend in terms of technology, but if you want to be an outstanding employee, if you want to be someone that employers treasure and pay well and promote, here’s what you have to know: as technology moves, you must move too.”

Reeser believes that the students learned more than just technical know-how from TSTC.

“You have been taught, by these faculty, not just knowledge and skills, but how to learn,” Reeser said.

Industrial Electrical Systems graduate Eyosias Gemechu was selected for the Provost Award, an award given to a student who has demonstrated high academic performance, exceptional character and student leadership, and who has influenced their peers to strive for excellence.

“I was so excited and nervous at the same time,” Gemechu said. “I wish my mom was able to be here.”

Gemechu plans to continue his education with TSTC.

Welding graduate Cesar Carrillo, who is working as a welder for Jay-Reese Contractors, said he was happy to reach this milestone.

“It feels good,” he said. “It feels like a weight lifted off my back. I’m being shipped off to Iowa Sunday for work.”

TSTC in Williamson County graduates earned degrees in six of the programs offered at the campus — Culinary Arts, Cyber Security, Industrial Electrical Systems, Industrial Maintenance, Precision Machining Technology and Welding.

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Liptak Earns Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College employee Kevin Liptak goes the extra mile for his students and his campus. Liptak’s initiative has earned him TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award, an honor given to TSTC faculty and staff who model excellence at the college.

Liptak, who began working at TSTC in 2015, was excited to be chosen for the award.

“Like everybody else, I try to go above and beyond what we’re asked to do,” he said. “I’ve taken on large class loads and worked on a couple of special projects for TSTC.”

Liptak oversees TSTC’s Industrial Maintenance and Electrical Power & Controls programs in North Texas.

“I like my job,” he said. “There are a lot of responsibilities, a lot of tasks here. I run two programs, so every day is new.”

Liptak takes pride in building relationships with his students.

“So far with every student that has graduated, there have been things we’ve helped them out with,” he said. “Whenever Red Oak had tornadoes, there were several students that lost property and we kind of became a support center for them. It’s the right thing to do.”

His favorite part of working at TSTC is the work environment.

“There are a lot of teamwork aspects here that are lacking elsewhere,” he said. “Everyone is here to move forward, and we all work together to get the job done.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001, and over the past 15 years nearly 300 TSTC employees have received the honor. Recipients are chosen based on outstanding contributions and achievements, commitment to excellence, and character. Honorees serve as agents of change in the advancement of TSTC initiatives.

Liptak will join 15 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored later this month at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards dinner and celebration in Austin.

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 100 positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit