Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC Culinary Arts Graduate Cooking His Way to Success

(HUTTO, Texas) – Bradley Streetman’s days are filled with green salads, fried chicken sandwiches and ceviche tostadas.

Streetman, a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus, has worked as a line cook for about a year and a half at Geraldine’s at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin. He recently moved from cooking in the evenings to mornings.

“I like nights, but it’s nice to have a little more of a life after work,” Streetman said.

A typical workday involves getting to the hotel at about 7:30 a.m. and setting up his cooking station. He said the kitchen is divided into five stations: pastry, pantry, fried, grilled and saute.  The restaurant also handles room service and poolside cabana orders.

“We don’t just have anybody (as a line cook). They need to have good knife and communication skills and get along with everyone on the line,” he said.

Streetman said he enjoys learning how to cook new dishes, something he gets to do at the restaurant with other line cooks to prepare for new menu items.

“I get to learn something new every day,” he said. “It’s a fun environment to work in.”

Streetman said he wants to get professional cooking experience in Austin and later transfer to another Kimpton-owned hotel.

Before attending TSTC, Streetman was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, studied radiology and worked in construction. He said he enjoyed barbecuing at home and decided to expand his culinary knowledge by making the career change.

Streetman studied with TSTC Chef Nelson Adams during his last semester at TSTC. Adams said Streetman asked thoughtful questions and he is happy to see his professional progress.

“It’s who you know that gets you into jobs like that,” Adams said. “Competition is fierce in the culinary industry.”

Streetman graduated in 2019 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.

“TSTC was a life-changing experience,” he said.

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TSTC Holds Summer 2019 Commencement

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 40 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2019 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 9, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Celina Estrada-Thomas, superintendent of the Hutto Independent School District, gave the commencement address. She told graduates to celebrate their accomplishments and surround themselves with positive and encouraging people.

Estrada-Thomas also said grit goes a long way in building success.

“The fact you are here tonight tells me you have grit,” she said.

Estrada-Thomas told graduates they will be called upon in their workplaces to find new solutions to old problems. And, she said graduates should learn from their mistakes and challenges. 

The Provost’s Achievement Award was given to Dominick Gonzales Jr. of Hutto, who received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.

“I am going to miss the camaraderie and the staff that have motivated me to keep going,” he said.

Gonzales is a line cook, butcher and baker at the Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden in Austin. 

Another graduate, Roman Sustaita of Granger, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He said he will miss the instructors.

He is working at AiRCO Mechanical in Round Rock, welding exhaust ducts and grease ducts.

“Growing up in an agricultural town, I did a ton of welding,” Sustaita said. 

TSTC has more than 1,000 students graduating this summer across the state.

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TSTC HVAC Technology Program Aims to Provide Workers for Growing Region

(HUTTO, Texas) – As the Austin area continues to grow with residential housing and high-rise buildings, so does the need for qualified heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians.

“This is a really high-tech area, but just because you live in a town for high-tech, not everybody is,” said Curtis Christian, an HVAC Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus in Hutto. “The problem I have noticed is a huge percentage of them have never worked on anything.”

Texas has more than 25,200 HVAC mechanics and installers earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Austin-Round Rock area has more than 1,800 HVAC mechanics and installers. The Arlington-Dallas-Fort Worth area has the most workers in the state with more than 7,100.

Even with economic growth and more people moving to Central Texas, some area businessmen said they still have a hard time finding qualified workers.

“This time of year we are working until midnight because we are short-staffed,” said Roland Arrisola, vice president of operations at Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Austin and secretary on the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association’s executive board. “We don’t have enough workers to serve our customers.”

Joe Strazza, owner of Precision Heating and Air in Austin, said he has noticed HVAC technicians tend to jump from business to business, chasing money and benefits. But, he said some of those same employees tend to return to work where they started.

“HVAC is a tough business,” Strazza said. “It is very hot in the attic, but it is rewarding if you are a dedicated worker and dedicated to succeed.”

Christian said students who have experience working on vehicles tend to adapt well to TSTC’s HVAC Technology program.

“Part-time work would be great for the students,” Christian said. “It is a good thing to do.”

Christian said students graduating from TSTC’s HVAC Technology program get jobs as service workers on the residential side or as helpers on the commercial side of HVAC.  Some graduates have even gone to work in the refrigeration field.

The number of HVAC mechanics and installers is projected to grow nationwide to more than 381,000 by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency indicates those with computer and electronics skills have better chances at jobs.

Strazza said the conversation needs to change in homes and high schools about how students should approach choosing whether to attend a four-year college or a two-year technical college.

“I have employees making more than $100,000 a year, and they are not in any student loan debt,” he said. “Parents, I believe, are not educated at how much money can be made in this industry. This is a career, not a job. A lot of people don’t realize that.”

TSTC offers the Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate in HVAC Technology at the East Williamson County campus.

“The HVAC industry presents tremendous opportunities for students seeking a high-paying career with upward mobility,” said Edgar Padilla, provost of TSTC’s East Williamson County campus and statewide chief of Strategic Partnerships and Production. “We work diligently with area employers to create employment for our graduates, and TSTC is proud to be a leader in the delivery of HVAC training across the state.”

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TSTC in East Williamson County Holds Spring Commencement

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 20 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement held Friday, May 3, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Guest speaker Terry Cook, the Williamson County commissioner for Precinct 1, cited a 2018 manufacturing skills report from Deloitte indicating there will be 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2028 with an economic impact of $2.5 trillion.

Cook cited the report’s proclaiming of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a time now requiring workers to have skills in critical thinking, computers and tools. She said soft skills, including creativity and attention to detail, will be looked at more.

“Every day will be a new challenge,” Cook said.

She told graduates they are worth every dollar they are paid and not to undervalue themselves.

“Make sure you get your worth,” Cook said. “You are a huge part of our future.”

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Raymond Multer of Red Rock in Bastrop County received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He attended classes at night so he could work during the day.

“I knew a little bit (about welding), but I like hands-on learning,” Multer said. “I learn better when I get to touch stuff.”

Multer said he was happy his mother could see him walk across the stage. After the ceremony, he and his family were going to eat barbecue.

Multer is working in the maintenance area at Darling International in Bastrop.

Some of the graduates will continue job hunting.

Jason Lin of Cedar Park received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology.

“It is pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s seems to have gone by in a blink. It (TSTC) has met my expectations, and it is where I felt like I should be.”

This was the fourth commencement ceremony held on campus. Previous TSTC in East Williamson County ceremonies have been held in conjunction with Texas State Technical College’s Commencement in Waco.

TSTC has more than 1,000 students graduating this spring across the state.

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TSTC in East Williamson County Holds Spring Commencement

TSTC in East Williamson County Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

(HUTTO) – Three employees at Texas State Technical College in East Williamson County have been honored for their work and skills.

George Fields, an Industrial Electrical Systems instructor; Abigail Flores, an enrollment coach and Michael Smith, an associate field development officer for The TSTC Foundation, have received Chancellor’s Excellence Awards.

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s new direction,” said TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.”  

Fields has been at TSTC for seven years.

“I am motivated by students from diverse demographics who want to become skilled in the trades,” he said. “I am continually being exposed to new trends in my field and thus to new learning and teaching opportunities.”

Flores works with TSTC students from enrollment until they graduate.

“What motivates me is knowing that we are helping our students improve their future,” she said.

Flores worked for 10 years at TSTC in Harlingen before moving in 2017 to TSTC in Williamson County.

She is a graduate of TSTC’s Business Office Technology program.

Smith’s job is to build long-term and sustainable relationships for the campus and increase The TSTC Foundation’s ability to provide financial assistance to students.

“I embrace the concept of meeting companies and donors where they are, and that can mean starting early in the morning or ending late in the evening,” he said. “Some days I’m in a three-piece suit, and others I’m in blue jeans and an apron preparing lunch to say ‘thank you’ to one of our partners.”

Smith has worked for three years at TSTC.

“Being a smaller campus, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know each of the members on our campus and appreciate not just their hard work, but their friendship.”

Fields, Flores and Smith will join 32 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration in May in Austin.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in East Williamson County Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

Georgetown Company Donates Equipment to TSTC

(HUTTO)  – Texas State Technical College recently received an in-kind equipment donation from a Georgetown company.

Trendsetter Electronics gave capacitors valued at more than $19,800 to the Williamson County campus in Hutto. Capacitors are two-terminal electrical components that store energy used in circuits.

“You have a great school, and it is our honor to be a small part of enriching the lives of TSTC students and our community,” said Lori Rutterford, the company’s data integrity manager.

Michael Smith, an associate field development officer for The TSTC Foundation, said the equipment can be used in programs that deal with electricity, like Biomedical Equipment Technology, Instrumentation Technology, and Electrical Power and Controls.

“They have been a great partner, and you will see a lot of developments out of Georgetown,” Smith said.

Trendsetter Electronics previously donated electronic components in 2018 to TSTC. The company distributes active, electro-mechanical, interconnect and passive electronic parts for the oil and gas industry and the instrumentation field.

“TSTC is proud to count on industry to hire our students and advise our curriculum,” said TSTC in Williamson County Provost Edgar Padilla. “Many of these partners also go above and beyond in supporting our mission and donate equipment, scholarship funds and other in-kind gifts to ensure that our mission of training Texans is successful. It’s a testament to TSTC’s reputation among our industry partners, and we’re very appreciative of the recent donation from Trendsetter.”

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New TSTC Scholarship Available for Hutto High School Graduates

(HUTTO) – Members of Hutto High School’s Class of 2019 will be the first to benefit from a new scholarship to attend Texas State Technical College that was created by the city of Hutto, the Hutto Education Foundation and The TSTC Foundation.

The three entities are contributing money to help Hutto graduates pay for pursuing certificates or associate degrees at TSTC.

The city is contributing $25,000, while the Hutto Education Foundation is still determining what it will provide financially. The TSTC Foundation will match both contributions.

“The ultimate goal is to keep building this,” said Michael Smith, associate field development officer for The TSTC Foundation. “We are trying to get a consortium of industry here that will theoretically fund any Hutto student that wants to go to TSTC.”

Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul said the idea of Hutto students graduating from high school, pursuing a technical degree and staying in the city is appealing.

“We are doing the first two semesters, and the Hutto Education Foundation is doing the other two semesters,” Gaul said.

Lizzy Samples, director of the Hutto Education Foundation, said their scholarship contribution will be for Hutto graduates who take at least 24 semester credit hours at TSTC.

“It is our mission that the students receiving this funding also have the drive to want to complete their education,” Samples said.

The three entities are expected to consider in upcoming years how much to contribute for future Hutto graduates to use.

“We feel like this is a really interesting and neat initiative that we hope the high school students get on board with,” Samples said.

Hutto High School students planning to attend TSTC this fall can talk to a TSTC recruitment representative for more information. Current TSTC students who graduated from Hutto High School can contact a TSTC admissions representative for more information.

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Austin Company and TSTC Build Welding Relationship

(HUTTO) – Lauren Caprio got her first welding job in 2016 shortly after graduating with a certificate from the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County.

Caprio, 33, of Pflugerville is a level III ultra-high-purity welder at Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin, where she works in a humidity-controlled clean room with employees wearing white protective gear to do tungsten inert gas welding and orbital welding. The controlled climate means employees can work with very pure materials to ensure quality for the biomedical, pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries.

“It is super-high accuracy,” Caprio said. “Everything has to be really exact. It you are detail-oriented, it is satisfying.”

The longer Caprio has worked at the company, the more complex her training has become.

“I know there is a ton of work for me here,” she said. “I feel really appreciated.”

Seventy percent of what the company has produced in the last 12 months has been exported overseas.

“We are passionate about building things in the United States,” said Robb Misso, the company’s chief executive officer. “Our ability to grow is limited to hiring good-quality welders, period.”

The company primarily looks for welding job candidates at TSTC and other two-year institutions.

“Building relationships with employers is essential to the success of our graduates and the TSTC mission,” said Edgar Padilla, provost of TSTC in Williamson County.

Misso said students learning about welding should think more high-tech as the industry evolves into automation and robotics. Parents and school counselors can play a role in encouraging students to pursue welding.

“We need a skilled workforce to do the assembly,” Misso said. “More TIG (tungsten inert gas), less MIG (metal inert gas welding).”

Misso said China, Vietnam and Malaysia are some of the nations he keeps an eye on regarding their technology. He said these countries have lower land costs, but the work quality does not compare to what is created in the U.S.

“For us to bring the jobs back to the U.S., we have to use technology to have a step up on other parts of the world,” Misso said.

Welding jobs in the United States are projected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, welding factors into industries such as aerospace, construction and manufacturing that the Texas Workforce Commission considers as being in-demand and high-earning in the state.

“Welding is an interesting science in that the physics of welding will never change, but the methods of teaching and technology available to do so will continue at a rapid pace,” Padilla said.

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TSTC in Williamson County Hosts Spring Counselors Update

(HUTTO) – About 70 area educators learned Tuesday how Texas State Technical College’s technical programs can support the state’s economy.

The TSTC Spring Counselors Update held at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto featured talks from TSTC staff about the registration process, dual enrollment and certificate and associate degree options.

Josh Schier, chair of the Cyber Security program at TSTC, said the field needs problem solvers. He said there are about 10,000 jobs open now in cyber security in the state, with the Austin area being one of the places with opportunities for graduates.

“We teach a mindset to be successful,” Schier said. “The challenge is filling the jobs. Students need to learn networking to begin with.”

Darren Block, statewide chair of the Precision Machining Technology department at TSTC, said students who graduate with a certificate in the field typically make at least $18 an hour,while those with an associate degree can make at least $22 an hour.

“The job market is great right now, and our economy is great, with low unemployment rates,” Block said. “All of my students have jobs lined up in their third semester, and some companies are offering to pay for student loans as sign-on bonuses.”

Ed Latson, executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told attendees that manufacturing is the top contributor to the area’s gross domestic product. He said there are about 1,500 manufacturing companies with about 57,000 jobs in the area. Many of those jobs are technology-based.

Some of the skills companies are looking for in potential employees include the ability to read drawings, take measurements, do mathematics, drive forklifts and complete shop paperwork, Latson said. But, companies also need people with good communication skills.

Liane Kerkman, a teacher at Wayside: Sci Tech Middle and High School in Austin, visited TSTC for the first time on Tuesday. She said out of this year’s 34-member senior class, about half are considering two-year secondary education options.

Kerkman said TSTC’s Cyber Security program could spark her students’ interest.

“TSTC is a good resource to bring back to them,” she said. “A lot of them are hesitant about a four-year university.”

Shirley Reich, a college and career coordinator at the Hutto Independent School District, said she was surprised at the number of jobs available in technical fields. She said the labor market will give staff more information to guide students on their post-high school paths.

“This (TSTC) is in their backyard,” Reich said. “It’s getting them in the door and excited.”

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Harlandale ISD and TSTC Partner in Dual Enrollment Classes

(WACO) – Students at Dillard McCollum High School in San Antonio are starting the year learning in new dual enrollment classes through Texas State Technical College in Waco – a first for TSTC and the Alamo City.

Eight juniors and seniors are taking Introduction to Automotive Technology and Automotive Suspension and Steering Systems in the Automotive Technology program enabling them to receive high school credit and technical college hours. TSTC credentialed the high school’s automotive technology teachers, Mark Emmons and Michael Martinez, to teach the dual enrollment classes.

“McCollum High School is our first dual enrollment partner in San Antonio,” said Megan Redmond, a dual enrollment advisor at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County who has worked with the students to get them registered. “Their automotive program is incredible. It is a great area to break into and I am really excited where it could take us.”

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide Automotive Technology Department chair, said approving the teachers and high school after a site visit was easy because they already had certification from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.

“They have a nice shop and I was impressed,” Cervantez said.

Talks between the Harlandale Independent School District and TSTC began in fall 2017, said Tracy Anderson, the school district’s career and technical education coordinator.

TSTC has supported the school district’s college-going culture in other ways.

“During the fall, TSTC attended the Auto Tech Industry Advisory Committee meeting at McCollum High School, participated with a table at both of the district’s college and career fairs as well as District Family Night to provide information and answer questions,” Anderson said. “We look forward to having our dual credit students and both automotive instructors visit TSTC in Waco soon.”

San Antonio is home to Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas Inc. which employs 2,900 employees including TSTC graduates, according to the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. Toyota’s presence helps make Texas in the top 10 among states for automotive manufacturing employment, according to the Texas Economic Development Division’s “The Texas Automotive Manufacturing Industry” report.

“There is a lot of potential for jobs for the students,” Cervantez said.

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