Category Archives: Abilene

TSTC in West Texas Holds Fall 2018 Commencement

(ABILENE) – More than 140 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 10, at the Abilene Convention Center. Graduates from TSTC’s four West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater were recognized.

For Ronnie Pitts, an instructor and statewide department head in the Emergency Medical Services program at Abilene, watching his students achieve their educational goals does not get tiring. It was especially significant when one student bestowed upon him an honorary Phi Theta Kappa stole as a thank-you.

“This is the event that makes everything we do as instructors worthwhile,” Pitts said. “Being able to watch our students succeed is what we live for. But, to be given this honor on top of it all is a special recognition that I greatly appreciate.”

 

Students could be found thanking their instructors and excitedly talking about having accepted job offers.

Chris Russell, an Army veteran and member of Phi Theta Kappa, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology Compliance. He started working full time last Monday at Clean Harbors.

“I worked in the oil field after the Army and saw that there was a way to make good money while staying clean and dry,” Russell said. “So now I get to do what I enjoy and be comfortable.”

During the commencement ceremony, Julian Alvarez III, the commissioner representing labor with the Texas Workforce Commission, encouraged students to be humble in their success and spend time with successful people.

“You will face careers, not jobs, the rest of your life,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez is a first-generation college graduate. He said that, just like TSTC did for him when he was a student, the graduates have received the tools needed to think for themselves.

“You are ready to meet those challenges you will face in the workplace,” Alvarez said.

Many of Monday’s graduates were inspired and led to success by family members.

Mary Mares of Brownwood, who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing from Sweetwater, said it was her son who inspired her to pursue her degree.

“My son was born with craniosynostosis, and it was his birth that motivated me to get this degree so I can help him and others to the best of my ability,” Mares said.

Phillip Cruz of Sweetwater received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology. He said his 6-year-old daughter was his inspiration for pursuing his studies.

“It’s a second career,” Cruz said. “I used to be a police officer. The country is changing to green energy. I figured I would help the country move forward.”

Cruz is considering job offers at energy companies in Michigan and Texas.

Earlier in the day, the Nursing programs held pinning ceremonies for graduates in Abilene and Sweetwater.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Celebrates Opening of Industrial Technology Center

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College’s new Industrial Technology Center received a grand opening Thursday night at a ribbon cutting and community open house.

The 56,000-square-foot structure on Quantum Loop next to Abilene Regional Airport is home to TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls, Emergency Medical Services, Industrial Maintenance and Welding Technology programs. The building built for innovative technical hands-on learning opened for the fall semester in late August.

“It’s not just about the facility, but it’s about the programs and the people,” said Texas House District 71 Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene.

Lambert said TSTC students walking through the Industrial Technology Center’s doors will be introduced to skill sets to ready themselves for the workforce.

“We have to be nimble and flexible and ready for the challenges to come,” Lambert said.

Even high school students in area school districts will benefit from what the Industrial Technology Center offers. Eighteen Abilene High School students are taking dual credit classes in Electrical Power and Controls this semester. And in Spring 2020, students in the Abilene Independent School District’s fire academy initiative will work on certification in Emergency Medical Services at TSTC.

“We are very excited about the new opportunities for our students,” said Abigayle Barton, the Abilene Independent School District’s associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “Our students will become better college and career ready.”

John Beckham, president of the board of directors for The Development Corporation of Abilene, said TSTC’s new building was in a great location for growth in the city. One of the projects he cited was the development of the 21-acre Access Business Park at the intersection of Farm Road 18 and Texas Highway 36 near the airport.

Beckham said Abilene owed it to the youth to provide them opportunities for better pay and a good quality of life. He said he looked forward to TSTC’s contributions to the city.

“Abilene has a need for a highly skilled and a technically-competent workforce,” he said.

Some attendees were seeing the building for the first time.

Jennifer Kent, director of member engagement for the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, said she was excited for TSTC’s growth.

“I love what it stands for and what it can offer to the economy in Abilene with highly qualified workers coming through,” Kent said.

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams thanked the city’s residents for their commitment in raising $6 million to help get the Industrial Technology Center built.

And, Williams was not shy about his vision for the future. He said he looks forward to seeing more TSTC buildings, and possibly an AISD career and technical education structure, in the next few years.

“Abilene always comes through,” Williams said.

TSTC’s newest building among its 10 campuses was designed by Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, which has offices in Abilene and throughout Texas. Imperial Construction Inc. of Weatherford used local contractors where possible to construct the building.

“TSTC is making an investment in this community,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC’s Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses. “But just as we needed community support to get this Industrial Technology Center up and running, we will need your continued support to make this master plan, this vision a reality.”

The ITC is the first of eight buildings planned in the next several years for the 51-acre campus that is estimated to serve 3,000 students.

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

 

TSTC Hosting Area High School Students for Dual Credit Classes

(ABILENE) – West Texas students are getting a taste of college life when taking dual credit classes at Texas State Technical College.

This semester, the Aviation Maintenance program is hosting high school students from the Clyde and Hawley school districts, and the Abilene Independent School District is sending secondary students to the new Electrical Power and Controls program.

“It shows we are working to give them an educational option,” said Kim Porter, TSTC’s vice president for student recruitment.

Students travel four afternoons a week to TSTC for general classes in the Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology certificate programs.

“This gives the high school students the ability to sample and see an educational program and career field before they have even left high school,” said Josh Parker, a TSTC Aviation Maintenance instructor. “There is currently a labor shortage in the aircraft maintenance field, and all industry analysts are predicting the shortage to last many years to come. The job market for the graduates of our two-year program is booming, and with that boom, starting wages are going up as well.”

This is the third year TSTC’s Aviation Maintenance program has hosted high school students.

“I think it is beneficial for the students to work alongside the college students and do the rigorous work,” said Paula Kinslow, Clyde Consolidated ISD’s director of curriculum and special programs. “It’s not something that is unattainable. With the students going into a career field that is in high demand, we can help them get in and go forward.”

Clyde CISD also has students taking dual credit classes in TSTC’s Culinary Arts and Welding Technology programs in Abilene.

Kinslow said TSTC is a natural fit because of proximity and affordability.

“We are really proud of our kids and want to provide the most for them,” Kinslow said.

Less than 20 juniors and seniors from Abilene High School began a 12-week semester earlier this week in the Electrical Power and Controls program at TSTC’s new Industrial Technology Center. The students will travel to the campus five afternoons a week.

“The students can earn six semester credit hours that can be used for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls at TSTC,” said Ketta Garduno, AISD’s director of career and technical education. “The DCOA (Development Corporation of Abilene) provided scholarship funds for eligible students who applied, and AISD, for this year, is covering the cost of transportation, books and supplies.”

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

 

TSTC Opens Industrial Technology Center

(ABILENE) – The first day of classes had that shiny new feeling Monday at Texas State Technical College.

TSTC opened the Industrial Technology Center on Quantum Loop next to Abilene Regional Airport just in time for fall classes. The building is home to the new Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance and Welding Technology programs and is the new location for the Emergency Medical Services program.

“Starting today there will be more learning happening out in the labs,” said Rick Denbow, TSTC provost. “It’s not going to be a conventional lecture in the class and then go to the lab.”

The morning’s first group of Welding Technology students toured the automated and metallurgy labs. This semester the program will have morning, afternoon and evening sessions.

Greg Nicholas, lead Welding Technology instructor for TSTC’s West Texas campuses, spent time this summer organizing the welding labs. He said he did not sleep much Sunday night.

“I was thinking on how I would get the information to students,” Nicholas said. “These are things that go through instructors’ heads.”

McKenzie Smallwood, 18, of Odessa heard about TSTC on Pandora and later saw a billboard she considered a “sign” to enroll.

Smallwood was exposed to welding through her father. She is pursuing the Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. She said she cannot wait to start welding later this week.

“It’s exciting to go to a technical college and learn how you do things,” Smallwood said.

Jacob Rose, 17, of Mertzon was encouraged to attend TSTC by a family friend. He comes to TSTC with welding experience from Irion County High School, where he graduated earlier this year.

Rose was in a whirlwind of excitement as he moved to Abilene the weekend before classes began on Monday.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet new people,” he said.

Kelsie Terry, an Emergency Medical Services instructor, was excited about being in the program’s new location. She said faculty members can now lead students in a mock emergency room and use video for student scenarios. The program was previously housed at TSTC’s East Highway 80 location in Abilene.

“There’s more tools and resources to make it as lifelike as you can in a setting,” she said.

Jonathan Brooks, 19, of Avoca said he was inspired to study Emergency Medical Services because of watching people care for his relatives in hospitals. One of the first lessons he learned Monday was how to render a blood pressure reading.

He saw the new building for the first time Monday.

“They put a lot of work into this,” Brooks said.

Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center began in June 2017. The building is the first on what is planned to be a 51-acre campus.

TSTC’s newest building among its 10 campuses was designed by Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, which has offices in Abilene and throughout Texas. Imperial Construction Inc. of Weatherford used local subcontractors where possible to construct the building.

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

 

TSTC Holds Summer 2018 Commencement

(ABILENE) – More than 130 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2018 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 17, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, said the night was a time to celebrate.

“For the graduates, tonight is an achievement,” Denbow said. “The sacrifices you made to get homework and tests done and being experts at time management was all worth it.”

Guest speaker Samuel Garcia, owner and operator of Samuel Garcia State Farm Insurance and a board member at Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas, said he was a fan of TSTC’s mission.

Garcia told graduates to think about others who have not experienced higher education. He told them to value the certificates and associate degrees they were receiving.

“Tonight is about you,” Garcia said. “Tomorrow is about you talking about what education can do for a person.”

Some graduates will continue on with their education.

Devan Moore, 30, of Abilene is a U.S. Army veteran who received a certificate in Wind Energy Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I want to say that it is a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “The best times were when I was up-tower in a wind turbine and applying what I learned.”

Moore will be one of the first students in the new Industrial Maintenance Technology program starting this fall at TSTC in Abilene.

Some graduates already have jobs.

Pamela Hermosillo, 21, of Breckenridge earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling from TSTC in Breckenridge.

She has been hired to work at the Walker Sayle Unit, part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Hermosillo also did her practicum at the prison.

“You learn a lot from the inmates,” she said. “You understand what they are doing in their addictions to drugs and alcohol.”

Some graduates are continuing their job hunt.

Robert Wiley, 24, of Abilene received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration from TSTC in Abilene.

“I enjoyed being around other students pursuing their career goals,” he said.

Wiley had several people in attendance at the graduation ceremony, including his parents and members of his church congregation.

Luis Rueda, 20, of Colorado City received a certificate in Welding Technology from TSTC in Sweetwater. He earned dual credit through TSTC when he was a student at Colorado High School in Colorado City.

“My brother started welding a lot,” Rueda said. “When he talked to me about it and said it was cool, that caught my attention and I just got into it.”

Rueda said he wants to get a welding job in the Midland-Odessa area.

Caydon Vara, 19, of Brownwood received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Technology from TSTC in Brownwood.

“I want to go to the fire side of it,” Vara said. “It runs in the family. It’s a calling.”

Earlier in the day, the Associate Degree in Nursing Pinning Ceremony for TSTC in Sweetwater nursing graduates took place at an Abilene church.

For more information, log on to tstc.edu.

New TSTC Welding Technology Program Poised to Get Students to Work

(ABILENE) – The first group of Welding Technology students walking into the Industrial Technology Center at Texas State Technical College later this month will be in for a pleasant surprise.

The new building next to Abilene Regional Airport will have state-of-the-art equipment for automated welding and metallurgy, said Ashley Yezak, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Welding Technology. The building will open Monday, Aug. 27, for the start of the fall semester.

“Metallurgy students go to work with engineering companies or for companies with engineering departments,” said Yezak. “They can develop new welding procedures.”

The automated welding equipment is the first of its kind among TSTC’s four West Texas campuses.

Yezak said the kind of students who succeed in welding are those who are comfortable working with their hands or have relatives involved in the welding field.

Area employers are seeking welding graduates with such experience.

Mike Petty, owner of West Techs Chill Water Specialists in Abilene and a 1986 Welding Technology graduate of Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC) in Waco, said job candidates for basic welding are readily available but those who do fitter welding are a challenge to find.

“They have to know a little trigonometry and understand how to measure and cut pipe on angles,” said Petty. “It’s more than just welding the pipe together.”

Petty said the oil and gas industry can determine the job candidate pool.

“West Texas has a lot of welders because of the oil and gas field,” he said. “The problem is when the oil prices go up, we have a shortage of welders, and when the prices go down, we have a surplus of welders. It all hinges on that oil price.”

Jeremy Bartz, human resources director at Hirschfeld Industries in San Angelo, said he has recruited Welding Technology graduates in the past from TSTC. The company has a fabrication plant in Abilene.

Bartz said a majority of the company’s work on large industrial, nuclear and structural projects throughout the world is wire welding.

“We can bring in three and four at a time to train,” he said. “We have to have experienced welders to go in and go to work. If we train somebody, we want them to come to work for us.”

Texas State Technical College will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology starting this fall in Abilene. Yezak said having the associate degree available gives certificate students at TSTC’s Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater campuses the option to continue their welding education.

Students can also earn certificates in structural welding or structural and pipe welding for the first time this fall in Abilene.

Yezak said Abilene’s welding programs can open up opportunities for high school students seeking dual credit and for prospective students in rural areas.

Besides the Welding Technology program, the Industrial Technology Center will house new programs in Industrial Maintenance and Electrical Power and Controls and will be the new location for the Emergency Medical Services program.

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

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 in Abilene to Introduce New Electrical Power and Controls Program This Fall

(ABILENE) – A new way to study power technology that keeps electricity flowing will debut in August in the Big Country.

Texas State Technical College will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls this fall at the new Industrial Technology Center on Navajo Trail in Abilene. The degree is the first of its kind to be offered at TSTC’s four West Texas campuses.

Some of the skills that Electrical Power and Controls majors can acquire include an understanding of the National Electrical Code, how direct and alternating currents function, and electrical design.

“Our guys go to work with utilities and testing and maintenance in the wind industry,” said Dan Bateman, a senior instructor in TSTC in Waco’s Electrical Power and Controls program. “A lot of companies will hire a contractor to maintain their substations and generators. The companies come here to interview.”

The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land area has the highest number of electrical and electronics engineering technicians in Texas with more than 3,700, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. West Texas, excluding Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, had about 200 technician jobs.

Some of the other jobs graduates can go into include electrical and electronics repairers for substations, powerhouses and relays, and electrical and electronics engineering technicians.

Ryan Bartholomew, a human resources consultant at AEP Texas in Abilene, said he cannot consider applicants for jobs in the field without an associate degree. He said AEP Texas has hired TSTC Electrical Power and Controls graduates in the past.

“I build relationships with people and have phone conversations and try to make a cognitive effort to email TSTC and say, ‘When is your next graduating class? I have this job coming open,’” Bartholomew said.

The program’s instructor in Abilene, Kevin Staton, owned an electrical business in Virginia before moving this summer to join TSTC. He said students are in for a “wonderful experience” with the hands-on learning.

“You have to respect electricity or it will hurt you,” Staton said. “There is one thing you can count on, and that is always having a job in this field. It’s going to be hard for a computer or anything to take over this kind of trade.”

The Electrical Power and Controls program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which promises graduates will secure jobs in their field within six months of graduation or receive their tuition money back.

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

TSTC and Hendrick Provider Network Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(ABILENE) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Hendrick Provider Network gathered Thursday to commemorate a TWC Skills Development Fund grant.

The original grant amount was $110,512, which created or upgraded 66 jobs at the health care provider, but an amendment to the grant added another $121,044 and helped an additional 58 employees.

“We offer a great solution to working with industry partners and are fortunate to work with the TWC,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene.

Of the employees trained, 24 became certified medical coders, 10 became certified medical office managers and 35 earned certificates in medical front office skills. TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education partnered with the Practice Management Institute to fulfill the training.

Some of the classes Hendrick employees took at TSTC dealt with insurance claims processing, procedural terminology, advanced coding and auditing.

“Health care has been underserved in the education realm,” said Hendrick Provider Network Operations Manager Marjohn Riney. “The health care industry has changed. Nobody has been educating front office staff.”

Riney said the training has led to increased tenure among employees and an empowerment in knowledge and competence.

The regional economic impact of the grant is expected to be $1.2 million, said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez III, who presented the check.

“What you are doing is keeping up and listening to industry,” Alvarez said. “You are customizing training to industry needs.”

Hendrick Provider Network in Abilene is a multispecialty group with providers in cardiology, infectious disease, nephrology, orthopedic surgery and other medical fields. It is part of the Hendrick Health System.

“Hendrick is one of our primary employers, and their growth is critical to our economy,” said Justin Jaworski, executive director of the Abilene Industrial Foundation.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for Texas companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employees’ needs. The competitive grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

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

TSTC in Abilene to Host Registration Events This Summer

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will have three Registration Rally events this summer in Abilene.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 28, July 25 and Aug. 8 at the main campus at 650 East Highway 80 in Abilene. The events are part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming students planning to take classes in the fall semester.

“The registration rallies are important because it gives you an opportunity to meet instructors and clarify anything you need to know about programs and admissions,” said Rikki Spivey, a TSTC college outreach representative.

Visitors can take campus tours and learn about the 15 technical programs offered at TSTC in Abilene, including new programs in Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Power and Controls and Welding Technology.

Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport is scheduled to be completed in time for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 27.

People interested in enrolling should bring a copy of their driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this summer. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to tstc.edu/rally.

For more information, contact TSTC in Abilene at 325-734-3608 or visit tstc.edu.