Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC Graduates 12 at Summer Commencement

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College celebrated its summer commencement ceremony in Hutto Friday, Aug. 10. Twelve graduates walked the stage in the presence of their family and friends.

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

Robb Misso, Founder and CEO of Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

“Start your path,” Misso told the graduates. “Understand your skills and your capabilities.”

He urged graduates to continue developing in their careers.

“The more that I learn, the more that I realize that it’s a journey,” Misso said. “You can’t stop. As soon as you stop, you stop progressing. You stop growing. It’s so important that you don’t ever quit. When you start something, persevere.”

Industrial Maintenance graduate Damian Helmbold 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’m totally honored and surprised,” Helmbold said. “I wasn’t expecting anything. My family being here, it was a great feeling.”

Helmbold, who has worked for the city of Georgetown for nine years, credits his degree for his new position as a SCADA Technician, which he began six months ago.

Precision Machining Technology graduate Wyatt Hauer was excited to receive his degree. At just 20 years old, he manages Four Points Platinum Machining.

“I’m certified now, so that helps.” Hauer said. “I do everything from programming parts to sweeping floors. I pretty much run the place. It’s the owner, and then me. He handles the business and I handle the shop.”

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

TSTC is registering for the fall semester through Aug. 20. For more information on the college, visit tstc.edu.

For a gallery of photos from the ceremony, click here.

Student Overcomes Obstacles to Reach TSTC Graduation

(HUTTO) – When Texas State Technical College student Damian Helmbold walks the stage Friday at the Summer 2018 Commencement, he will be reaching a goal he has worked towards for more than  two years.

Helmbold was born in Kingston, New York,  but moved to Texas in 1997. Three years ago, he experienced health issues and decided he wanted to make a change in his life.

“I had a fibrosis growing under my kidney and had a major surgery on my abdomen,” Helmbold said. “I got through that, and then I had back surgery. After that I decided I wanted to do more.”

So after learning about TSTC from some of his colleagues at the city of Georgetown, Helmbold enrolled in the Industrial Maintenance program.

“My coworkers went to TSTC in Waco and graduated from there maybe 10 years ago,” he said. “They’re in the field that I wanted to be in. That’s what made me choose this.”

Helmbold worked for the city of Georgetown’s water department for nine years. He credits his upcoming degree for his new position with the city — supervisory control and data acquisition I&C technician. He began working in the new position six months ago.

“We maintain all the stations in the system for the city of Georgetown,” he said. “It could be water or electrical substations and wastewater plants. We deal with all the communications, the programming on the PLCs and the communications back to the control center via radio and fiber optics.”

Juggling working full time, going to school at night and spending time with his wife and kids, Helmbold was happy to take evening classes.

“I wouldn’t have been able to finish if I couldn’t do it at my own pace,” he said.

Helmbold will graduate with honors and credits two things for maintaining his high GPA: his work ethic and his wife.

“I made sure to allocate enough time to do my work, any studying and any research I had to do,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without my wife, of course, having two boys. Her help allowed me to step away to go to school, while both kids are in sports and with all the school activities.”

His advice to those considering the school is to meet with the instructors.

“Come in and talk to the teachers themselves,” he said. “They’re a big reason I chose to come here and stay the whole eight semesters it took me to do this part time. It’s a big accomplishment to finish something like this.”

Helmbold is one of 23 students eligible to walk at the college’s Commencement exercises  on Friday. The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. The last day to register is Monday, Aug. 20, and classes begin Monday, Aug. 27.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Inspired to Teach, Welding Grad Returns to TSTC

(HUTTO) – When Brandon Cernosek began attending the welding program at Texas State Technical College in Waco, a teaching job was the last thing on his mind.

But while going through the program, he drew inspiration from his welding instructor. As a result, Cernosek recently began teaching welding at TSTC in Williamson County.

“One of the teachers, when I was going to school, was a really good teacher,” Cernosek said. “He was one of those guys you wanted to be around and just listen to because he was always in a good mood with a positive attitude. He just made you want to come to class and learn. That’s the type of teacher I wanted to be.”

Cernosek graduated from TSTC in 2016. Later the Cedar Park resident worked in the welding industry before going to work for the college.

“I worked at Fast Lane Metalworks (in Waco),” Cernosek said. “It was a custom fabrication shop. People would come in and just tell us something they dreamt up that nobody else had, so we’d figure out how to make it. That was a lot of fun. Then I did some more industrial work.”

His love for welding began when he was in high school.

“It was just something that seemed so awesome,” Cernosek said. “You could just make things out of metal and do whatever you wanted with it. Cut here, add it there and, I don’t know, I just fell in love with how it feels when you’re under the hood. I can do a good TIG weld and come out happy. I just like doing it.”

Coming in as a new instructor, Cernosek worried that the students wouldn’t accept him.

“I thought the students weren’t going to respond very well to a young person coming in and trying to help them, but they actually responded really well,” he said. “I’m not trying to be a know-it-all or anything. I’m just trying to help out. They seem to take to it really well, and that feeling itself is really rewarding.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said he is happy to welcome Cernosek to the team.

“We are excited to see our welding program growing and always feel privileged to have a TSTC grad return from industry to teach our next generation of welders,” Padilla said. “Brandon is a great addition to the Williamson County family.”

Cernosek hopes that passing on his skills will help fuel the workforce.

“There’s not a lot of skilled laborers out there,” he said. “If I can help throw some more skilled laborers out there, that’d be great — teach some kids some new skills.”

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.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Looks to Expand Team

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College is looking to expand its Williamson County team and hiring for several instructor positions.

Precision Machining, Industrial Maintenance, HVAC, Welding and Culinary Arts are some of the areas in which the school is looking to fill vacancies.

Campus Director Darren Block said teaching offers a chance to make an impact in the community. It also lets one do one’s part to fill the “skills gap,” a shortage of middle-skilled workers to fill open positions in the U.S.

“By instructing the next generation of blue-collar workers in this country, we are building the future and providing a path to success,” Block said. “You often hear ‘it’s a dying art’ or the ‘skills gap.’ We are filling that skills gap, or handing down that skill or ‘art’ to the next generation.”

Block said teaching also offers a sense of pride.

“Teaching someone to do what you do is fulfilling and rewarding,” he said. “When I get a call from an employer saying our student is working out great and asking if we have any more to send them, that is what it is all about.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla hopes those interested in strengthening the workforce of Texas will apply.

“TSTC is a dynamic institution, working hard to fulfill a unique mission among colleges and universities in Texas,” Padilla said. “Our employees are the heartbeat of our vision for placing more Texans into great careers. We are seeking employees who are eager to innovate, lead and be part of changing the landscape of higher education in Texas.”

TSTC has 10 campuses statewide in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County. Each campus provides a unique atmosphere, with programs chosen to suit each area’s employment needs.

“We are situated in one of the top five fastest-growing cities in Texas,” Padilla said. “The business climate in the Austin metropolitan area, coupled with our unique culture, makes this the perfect place to work and make an impact for our future students and graduates.”

TSTC offers benefits such as retirement, medical, dental, vision and more.

For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Visionary Murray Watson Jr. Remembered for Service

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College mourned Wednesday the loss of former Texas legislator Murray Watson Jr., who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC.

“If there was ever a Mr. TSTC, it would be Murray Watson,” said Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief strategic relations officer.

Watson died Tuesday at age 86.

Watson was a state senator when he filed legislation to make the James Connally Technical Institute independent and rename it Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC). Gov. Preston Smith signed the bill’s final version in May 1969 in Austin.

At TSTC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2015 in Austin, Watson was honored with a Founder’s Award.

Watson’s name is on TSTC’s student recreation center on Campus Drive. That factored into his wife, Greta, having been honored with the nearby Culinary Arts building being named for her.

“Murray and I walked out of the old (TSTC) system’s building, and we were about a million dollars short to build the new Culinary Arts Center,” Stuckly said. “I said, ‘Mr. Watson, I want you to think about something. Your name is on that (the recreation center) building. Wouldn’t it be nice for it (the new building) to be called the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center? If you give us a million dollars, you could look at each other forever.’ It wasn’t a couple of weeks later that he called and said he was going to do it.”

Stuckly said Watson was a mentor who would give him advice.

“He always stayed in contact with me by email,” Stuckly said. “He was always looking for ways and ideas of how to make TSTC a better college.”

Stuckly said he and Watson always found much to talk about.

“He grew up in Mart, and I was raised in Penelope,” Stuckly said. “He always wanted to ask about TSTC first, then talk about farm cattle and his feed store and what I used to do on the farm. He said, ‘Elton, there aren’t many people that I can talk to who relate to those times.’”

Verna Lastrapes, a TSTC college outreach specialist, grew up knowing the Watson family in Mart. She said Watson’s family owned the local feed store, which she would visit as a four-year-old with her father at least twice a week to catch up with residents.

“Murray Jr. was a senior at Mart High School then,” she said. “I knew him well because he and my sister, Barbara, were friends.”

Pete Rowe, TSTC’s vice president for institutional development, hauled hay for Watson when he was a teenager in Mart. Rowe also graduated from Mart High School.

“It’s a personal loss for me because I loved him so much,” Rowe said. “He was a great mentor to me. He and Mrs. Watson have always been very kind to me and have done a lot for me in my life and career.”

Lastrapes said residents in Mart thought Watson would be president one day.

“He did not become president, but he did become our state representative and our state senator,” she said. “As a teenager, I remember helping campaign for him. Just about everyone in Mart campaigned for him.”

The feed store factored into Watson’s law career.

“When he lost the campaign for U.S. representative and went into private law practice, he had his office in Waco and one in Mart above the feed store,” Lastrapes said. “For years that is where he conducted all legal transactions with my daddy and other rural area farmers and businessmen.”

Rowe said Watson raised cattle andis sure he must have encountered on his ranch some of what TSTC teaches today.

“Murray was a highly intelligent person,” he said. “He was way ahead of the curve in the education field. He really studied education. He knew what to do.”

Lastrapes worked several years at the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp. Inc., which financed student loans. Watson was one of the organization’s founders.

“He had his own time schedule,” she said. “We began to say, ‘The starting time is when Murray Watson gets there.’ That was for everything!”

John K. Hatchel, chair of the TSTC Board of Regents, worked with Watson as a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service’s board of directors.

“He was very quiet, but he was consistent,” Hatchel said. “If there was a person who needed something or help, he was the first in line to do his part. He did it not expecting any accolades or thank-you’s. He just did it as a person.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Recruiters Bring Enthusiasm to New Roles

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College recently welcomed two new student recruiters at its Williamson County campus.

MaKenna Honea, of Georgetown, and Brittany Hoke, of Pflugerville, joined the TSTC team at the beginning of June.

Before joining TSTC, Honea worked in the food and bar industry for four years.

“I wanted to find somewhere to grow professionally and start a career,” she said. “I wanted to work somewhere I’d be held to higher standards and have more responsibilities.”

She relishes her new role as a recruiter.

“It’s challenging, but it’s rewarding,” Honea said. “Every day is something different, which is fun.”

While Honea enjoys the team she works with, she is happy to be helping local students map out their futures.

“It’s cool that I get to be somebody I wish I would’ve met in high school, reaching out to kids,” she said. “If I would have had a recruiter, things probably could have been really different for me.”

Hoke enjoys that aspect of the job as well.

“I like getting to help students figure things out that I didn’t figure out when I was younger,” she said. “Getting to help introduce kids to TSTC is pretty awesome because it is such an affordable education.”

Before coming to TSTC, Hoke worked with the Texas secretary of state’s office as an employee of Registered Agent Solutions Inc. and was also a child support officer. She was excited to take on her role at TSTC.

“It was a completely different opportunity than anything else I had seen,” she said. “The pride of the staff is really eye-opening.”

Both women stand behind the school’s mission — to place more Texans in great-paying jobs.

“We are all about students,” Honea said. “We’re not just about numbers; we’re about the actual people.”

Hoke shared those sentiments.

“TSTC is something I can stand behind,” Hoke said. “It’s a good message, a good education and a good value.”

Coordinator of Recruitment Melissa Morman said she is happy to have finally completed her team of recruiters.

“Having Brittany and MaKenna join the student recruitment team has really been the fuel this department has needed to have more of a presence in the surrounding areas,” she said. “With Pflugerville and Georgetown natives on board, it gives us the insight to share our mission of placing more Texans along with spreading the TSTC message.”

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.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Registration Rally Set for July 24 in Williamson County

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County will host a Registration Rally on Tuesday, July 24 – all part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for students starting classes in the fall semester.

Recruiting and Admissions staff will be on standby to walk students through the registration process. They will also offer tours and help with applications.

The Registration Rally will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. Attendees will be able to meet with faculty, learn more about the different technologies offered at the Williamson County campus and tour the facilities.

In addition to Recruiting and Admissions, personnel from Financial Aid, Testing, Student Success and Veteran Services will be available to answer questions and lend a helping hand. Prospective students will be able to learn all about resources available to them.

Coordinator of recruitment Melissa Morman said the June event was great, and she hopes next week’s event will bring in new students.

“The response from the community during our registration rally in June was overwhelming, and we can feel the growth happening with each registered student,” Morman said. “We look forward to welcoming even more students next Tuesday, and we invite everyone in the community to come tour our facility and sign up for classes.”

Students who need help finalizing their registration are encouraged to bring the following: copy of driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

For more information on the Registration Rally, go to tstc.edu/rally.

TSTC Student Finds Passion in Welding

(HUTTO) – After working for a tree-trimming company for three years, Texas State Technical College student David Suarez wasn’t quite sure what he wanted as a career, but he knew that wasn’t it.

He came across welding by chance at work.

“We have a skid-steer at work. The bucket on it broke, and it needed to be welded,” Suarez said. “The boss is the one who usually welds things up, but he wasn’t there that day. His son was there, and he was welding it. He looked at me and asked, ‘You want to give it a shot?’ I said sure. And ever since that moment, I was hooked on it.”

The Hutto native and now Taylor resident looked up welding colleges and found that TSTC was right in his backyard.

“I have a couple of friends, probably five or so, that went there, and they loved it,” he said. “They’re out welding for a living, so I figured I’d sign up and see what it was all about.”

So far, he is enjoying his classes.

“All the people in there are super friendly and always willing to help,” Suarez said. “They do whatever it takes to make sure we are all in this together and no one is falling behind. As far as the teachers, they’re always in a good mood and willing to help you.’”

Suarez has even taken up some welding projects outside of class.

“If I’m not welding at school, I’m at home coming up with something,” he said. “I have a buddy who has a 4Runner, and we go off-roading. When you’re off-roading, you’re bumping into trees and rocks and all sorts of stuff, so he has a bumper that he wants to fit. It has to be welded to the frame of the 4Runner, so I’m going to start that project soon.”

In his free time, Suarez is a firefighter with the Taylor Volunteer Fire Department.

“It started about a year ago,” he said. “One of my co-workers has been doing it for six or seven years, and he’d been trying to get me to join. You get to experience so much — going through the academy and getting certified through the TEEX of Texas A&M. It’s always rewarding to feel like you can give back to the community and feel like you’re putting your part in.”

When he isn’t busy with school, work or volunteering, Suarez likes to spend his time outdoors.

“I’m into fishing and hunting,” he said. “Whether I’m searching for whitetails, doves, turkey — you just sit back and enjoy nature. You never know what’s going to come out, so it’s always a neat experience just having that appreciation for nature and what it has to offer.”

Now in his second semester, Suarez isn’t yet sure what he wants to do when he graduates.

“Welding can take you all sorts of different ways,” he said. “I have a couple of friends doing structural welding; I have a couple of friends doing pipeline welding. There’s TIG stainless steel welding. I have a lot more to learn before I feel like I can make a decision on what exactly I want to do with my welding education.”

Suarez enjoys TSTC’s teaching style and recommends it to those looking for something different.

“In high school I had good grades, but sitting in a classroom wasn’t for me,” he said. “Being here at TSTC, the majority of the time you’re hands-on learning.”

TSTC is registering for the fall semester through Monday, Aug. 20. For more information on TSTC and the Welding program, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Registration Rallies Begin June 20

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County will host two Registration Rallies this summer – all part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for students starting classes in the fall semester. The first rally will be held on Wednesday, June 20, with the second following on Tuesday, July 24.

Recruiting and Admissions staff will be on standby to walk students through the registration process. They will also offer tours and help with applications.

The Registration Rallies will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. Attendees will be able to meet with faculty, learn more about the different technologies offered at the Williamson County campus and tour the facilities.

In addition to Recruiting and Admissions; personnel from Financial Aid, Testing, Student Success and Veteran Services will be available to answer questions and lend a helping hand. Prospective students will be able to learn all about resources available to them.

Coordinator of recruitment Melissa Zamora says the rallies offer students the convenience of getting everything done at once.

“Registration rallies are a great opportunity for the community and students to get information, tour and register on the spot with every department on hand,” Zamora said.

Students who need help finalizing their registration are encouraged to bring the following: copy of driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

For more information on the Registration Rally, go to tstc.edu/rally.

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.edu/about/employment.