Category Archives: Abilene

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

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

Recent TSTC Graduate Returns to Hometown to Work

(ABILENE) – Stephen Heckler is glad to be home.

Heckler, 20, began work earlier this month in the network operations center at Acumera, a network-managed service provider in his hometown of Austin. He earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration from Texas State Technical College in late April.

Heckler’s job as a technician involves fulfilling client tickets and answering telephone calls at the Northland Drive company.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity and a lot to learn,” he said. “It seems like a really good fit for what I want to be doing.”

Phil Stolle, director of Acumera’s network operations center, said it is a challenge finding qualified applicants with customer service skills and technical training who can work nontraditional yet flexible hours.

“Candidates who have real-world experience along with a course of study in networking/IT from TSTC are great candidates,” Stolle said. “In the specific role as a network operations center technician, it is a great opportunity for those looking to put their degree to use. One thing that I think candidates are really attracted to is that interviewing with Acumera is the opportunity to go deep in the field of network management.”

Heckler was home-schooled and attended private schools while growing up in Austin. When he was 8, he crashed his father’s computer. When Heckler was middle school-age, he searched online for a computer he could afford with his allowance.

He said college was not an option at first because he wanted to be a mechanic or work on computers because of his interest. He said TSTC exceeded his expectations.

“I have relatively good time-management skills already,” Heckler said. “It was not a big deal to go to class once or twice a week with a lab section and make sure the homework got done.”

He went to TSTC’s Abilene campus because his fiance is attending Abilene Christian University.

“I did not want to do theory and programming,” Heckler said. “TSTC was a good fit. I feel like I am prepared for work. I pushed and worked on the assignments, so if you put in the effort, you do learn a lot.”

Leo Chavez, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, said Heckler showed a lot of passion with his learning and spent a lot of time in the program’s combined classroom and lab.

“It is validation for the program since we certainly teach toward the smaller areas, like Abilene and Sweetwater,” Chavez said. “It says a whole lot about the things we teach in that you can take that and pivot to an Austin, and make it work well.”

Heckler said Chavez was an integral part of his success at TSTC and in finding a job so quickly after graduation.

“He has a way of communicating his passion for the material and getting the students excited about that,” said Heckler.

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New TSTC Building Predicted to Generate Industry Interest in Abilene

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College’s expansion on Abilene’s east side is expected to be a magnet for growth.

“I think anytime you have a new building, it is going to generate interest,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene. “People start thinking about relocating or bringing in their company. If they see activity going on, they think this is the place to be.”

Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport began in June 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in time  for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 27. The building is the first on what is planned to be a 51-acre campus.

The ITC will have new technical programs for Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance and Welding. The Emergency Medical Services program will move to the new building from its current location on East Highway 80.

The new programs factor into Abilene’s desire to build its workforce. Jobs in nursing, physical therapy, equipment service and maintenance, and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining were some of the hardest to fill, according to a March 2016 economic development strategic plan created for the Development Corporation of Abilene.

Some of the general industries targeted for recruitment by the DCOA include advanced manufacturing, healthcare and food processing, according to the strategic plan.

“I think as we get that building built, it is going to help the economic development folks in Abilene recruit industry,” Denbow said.

The Abilene Industrial Foundation is currently marketing a 35-acre, shovel-ready plot on Maple Street less than five minutes from the airport and TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center. And, the foundation is developing the 21-acre Access Business Park at the intersection of Farm Road 18 and Texas Highway 36 near the airport.

Justin Jaworski, executive director of the Abilene Industrial Foundation, said TSTC is a fundamental piece of the city’s economic development plan.

“The eventuality will be that TSTC provides a reliable and dynamic pipeline for a trained workforce that will be able to — on-demand — meet whatever needs are requested in Abilene,” he said.

The campus is being included in the airport’s revised master plan, which looks ahead up to 20 years.

“We are envisioning commercial development on that side of the airport,” said Don Green, director of transportation services for the city of Abilene. “We were already working toward that before the TSTC project came about a little over a year and a half ago. This project fits in with it. We hope the campus will act as a bit of a catalyst for increasing activity over there and will help us in developing and marketing that area.”

Imperial Construction Inc. of Weatherford is using local subcontractors where possible to construct the building, which has a structural steel frame, heavy-gauge framing, and metal siding and sheathing. The construction and design costs total $12 million, with an additional $3.4 million in equipment and furniture. The building was designed by Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, which has offices in Abilene and throughout Texas.

Future campus building construction will be subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that height does not interfere with protected airspace, said Green.

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TSTC West Texas Campuses Seeking Welding Instructors

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College is looking for motivational people who can put a spark in the lives of Welding Technology students.

TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood are seeking three qualified welding instructors with a combination of professional and teaching experience.

“We are always looking for awesome people to join our TSTC team,” said Rhiannon Hastings, lead statewide recruiter in TSTC Human Resources. “We truly value hands-on experience in industry to provide the best learning experiences possible for our students at TSTC.”

Starting this fall, TSTC in Abilene will offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology and two certificates.

TSTC in Breckenridge offers a three-semester certificate in structural welding and accepts up to 20 students each semester.

“If you like small-town living, a great place to raise a family and a place where everybody knows everybody, it can work for you,” said Debbie Karl, executive director of the Breckenridge campus.

TSTC in Brownwood can accommodate 28 structural welding certificate students.

“We need someone with experience,” said Raquel Mata, executive director of the Brownwood campus. “We would like to have someone well known to the businesses and can meet and greet and have moments with them to get to know them. We want someone to be a good fit for our students and be a good leader.”

Applicants need to have current American Welding Society certifications and  experience in shielded metal arc, flux-cored arc, gas metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding processes, along with fabrication, layout and pipe welding. Applicants having an associate degree in welding are preferred.

TSTC is a state institution offering Health Select of Texas administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid vacation days, sick leave and state holidays, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement. The technical college also offers employee development and employee appreciation events as part of its overarching goal to make TSTC a great place to work.

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TSTC Students in Abilene to Receive Scholarships in New Programs

(ABILENE) – Students enrolling in three new technical programs this fall at Texas State Technical College in Abilene will receive a financial boost.

TSTC will give $1,000 scholarships to the first 20 students joining the Welding program and the first 40 students in both the Electrical Power and Controls and Industrial Maintenance programs.

“There are high-demand jobs in and around the area,” said Kimberly Porter, vice president of student recruitment at TSTC in Abilene. “For anyone in West Texas, they don’t have to go to the Metroplex for these industries.”

The technical programs will be taught in the Industrial Technology Center nearing completion on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport.

“I just think it is exciting because it is making a bigger footprint in Abilene,” Porter said. “The community is super-excited to have us here. It is a way for the students to stay closer to home and contribute to their local economy.”

Students must be enrolled by July 20 to get on the scholarship list. Once fully enrolled, a TSTC admissions or recruiting staff member will contact students letting them know about the money they will receive, Porter said. Students who receive the scholarship do not need to be Pell Grant eligible. The money can only be used only for the fall 2018 semester.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in West Texas, said the scholarships are aimed at breaking down enrollment barriers.

“There is no question that the scholarship money will help the students,” he said. “We have three new programs that we have not offered before in Abilene. This reiterates the college’s commitment to helping the new campus start off real strong.”

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TSTC Holds Spring 2018 Commencement in Abilene

(ABILENE) – More than 80 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2018 Commencement held Friday, April 27, at the Abilene Convention Center.

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, began the ceremony with a tribute to TSTC President Emeritus Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater, who died earlier in the day at age 83.

“He would be extremely happy for you to celebrate the success of the students,” Denbow told the audience.

Texas Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, was the keynote speaker. He told those gathered about his first job as a 9-year-old washing windshields at his father’s full-service filling station. He said it was a great experience in public relations.

“You can’t replace kindness in the world,” Lambert said.

Lambert said for graduates to be successful, they need to do four things: have something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for.

“What do you hope is the next chapter in life?” Lambert asked the graduates.

Lambert advised graduates to be honest, read the Bible, do the right things in life, have a good attitude and not to hold grudges.

“It’s important at this time to have a positive attitude,” he said.

Lambert said he admired how West Texas residents came together for the TSTC in Sweetwater students affected by the Bluebonnet Inn dormitory fire earlier this year.

Several of Friday’s graduates already have jobs.

Johnathan McCarthy, 28, of Abilene graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology. He is already working as a wind technician at Invenergy LLC in Nolan.

“I got out of the Marine Corps and needed an exciting job that is stable,” McCarthy said. “Wind Energy Technology was new and different, but I knew I could do it.”

Some graduates are job searching.

Cameron Hartgraves, 26, of Abilene was a Phi Theta Kappa graduate who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration. He wants to stay in the area for employment.

But, this was not Hartgraves’ first college graduation. He already has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hardin-Simmons University.

“I more or less figured out that I could fix computers better than people,” he said.

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

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New Industrial Maintenance Program at TSTC to Fill a Need for West Texas

(ABILENE) – Some of the most sizzling careers right now in West Texas are in the industrial maintenance field, and Texas State Technical College is poised to fill the need.

TSTC in Abilene will offer the new Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization at the Industrial Technology Center opening this fall on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport. Students will learn about electrical theory, industrial maintenance, blueprint reading, hydraulics, pneumatics and other topics in the heavily hands-on program.

Shea Hopkins, director of talent management at the Abilene Industrial Foundation, recently took a tour of the ITC.

“It was looking good,” she said. “I think it’s exciting to have something like this in Abilene, and I think the students will be excited about it.”

Hopkins said one of the first questions prospective companies ask is if skilled labor can be found to fill available positions.

“What I like about industrial maintenance is it is the most comprehensive,” Hopkins said. “It gives the students a little bit of everything. It is not as specific as some of the other degrees. It makes for well-rounded employees, and the companies can use them for a lot of different jobs so they can use those skills.”

Graduates can use the associate degree to become millwrights, industrial motor control technicians, and electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

Electro-mechanical technicians and industrial maintenance mechanics are considered in-demand occupations in the region, according to Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas.

Steve Collins, business and resource consultant at Workforce Solutions, said there are more than 800 job openings now in the wind farm, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors in Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties for installation, repair and maintenance. The number can shift almost daily as hiring is done and jobs are open.

Collins said TSTC’s Industrial Maintenance program will be helpful to fill employment needs.

“The more education you can get, the better qualified you are,” he said.

Joe Tiner, chief engineer at Texas Healthcare Linen in Abilene, said he needs maintenance technicians who can read blueprints and troubleshoot electrical problems quickly and know how to fix machinery. He said it was great that students will get to study Industrial Maintenance in Abilene.

“Those are the guys that TSTC will produce and give them a baseline of what they need to do once they are in the field,” he said. “That is how I learned.”

The high-tech laundry company works with hospitals in Abilene and throughout West Texas to clean their 14 million pounds of laundry per year.

“We work long shifts, five days a week, and are at only about 50 percent of our capacity,” Tiner said. “We have been growing.”

The new Industrial Maintenance program has also piqued the interest of area companies.

Acme Brick, based in Fort Worth, has a production plant in Lubbock and retail brick, tile and stone stores in Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and San Angelo.

“That would be a nice place to look,” Yulonda Charles, Acme Brick’s human resources manager, said about TSTC in Abilene. “I do partner with TSTC on most of their campuses. We are looking for trainees coming out of TSTC, but they need to be open to moving where we have a plant.”

West Texas Industrial Engines Inc. in San Angelo specializes in engine overhauls, field services, machine shop services and other work for the oil and gas field.

“The problem with filling jobs is San Angelo’s unemployment rate is less than 3 percent, so our opportunities to fill positions in the industrial field are very limited,” said C. Alan McClain, the company’s president and chief executive officer and a TSTC in Sweetwater alumnus.

He said it was exciting that TSTC in Abilene was expanding its technical offerings with the Industrial Maintenance program.

“I think it will be outstanding,” McClain said. “Anything we can do to help get people in the skilled trades and get them an education and place them in skilled trade jobs would be great.”

The Industrial Maintenance program will be offered in Abilene pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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TSTC Program to Change Degree Format, Offer Scholarships this Fall

(ABILENE) – A technical program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene will undergo a name change and bring with it an opportunity for students to earn scholarships this fall.

The Computer Aided Drafting program will be changed to Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology and convert to an online associate degree plan. The change is aimed at preparing students in parametric modeling and design, mechanical drafting, residential architectural drafting, topographical drafting and other skills.

“With this new associate degree, we will be more specialized,” said Justin Price, an instructor in the Computer Aided Drafting program at TSTC in Abilene. “We will focus more on architecture and engineering.”

Price said the name change will make it easier to explain to potential students what fields can be pursued with the associate degree. Some of the careers are in architectural, civil and mechanical drafting. He said program graduates have been hired in Abilene, Dallas, Fort Worth, Midland and Odessa.

“Our industry partners told us what we should be teaching our students for mechanical, architectural, piping and civil drafting,” said David Campos, TSTC’s statewide Architecture and Drafting Division director. “They responded to our call and said, ‘We hire your students, and it would be nice in the future if you started teaching this.’ We ended up adding a few more classes because technology changes so much.”

The program has received a $50,000 Fast Start IV grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. The money will supply $5,000 scholarships to 10 students enrolled in the online component of the Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology this fall at TSTC in Abilene. To be eligible for the scholarship, students in the program must take 12 or more semester credit hours, demonstrate financial need and write an essay on a topic relevant to architecture or engineering.

The application and essay deadline for the scholarship is July 2.

“We have identified a lot of potential students that are working in the industry that either are lacking one, two, three classes that can get the degree or maybe they are doing a different type of work in the industry,” Campos said. “By taking these courses online, they can move up the ladder.”

This fall’s program name and curriculum change will also occur at TSTC in Brownwood and Sweetwater. Students now enrolled in the Computer Aided Drafting program can complete their degree in the current hybrid format.

Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology will be part of TSTC Online, a group of technical programs that students can learn online. The other online programs include Business Management Technology, Cyber Security, Digital Media Design and Health Information Technology.

“The growth in TSTC Online programs has come in response to student demand for availability, flexibility and convenience,” said Gina Cano-Monreal, TSTC’s associate vice president for online learning. “Faculty developing courses for TSTC Online programs are the same faculty that teach our quality face-to-face courses. They work extremely hard to develop engaging courses that give our online students a positive learning environment and the sense of community we want all of our TSTC students to experience.”

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TSTC in Abilene Seeking Faculty for New Technical Programs

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College is looking for team members.

With a reputation for hiring faculty who have real-world industry experience, TSTC in searching for teaching candidates to teach in Abilene.

TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center is currently under construction on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport and will house three new TSTC programs: Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance and Welding Technology.

Quality faculty are key to helping students become well-trained employees.

“The knowledge the faculty brings to the classroom and labs is hard to quantify,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater. “You are conveying that information to the student that has maybe limited knowledge. They are preparing those students upon graduation to get into industry and get those great paying jobs.”

TSTC will hire for four full-time instructors and two adjunct instructors in Electrical Power and Controls and Industrial Maintenance. There will also be two full-time instructors hired for the welding program. A program maintenance specialist will be hired who will help instructors prepare classrooms and equipment for labs, grade papers and other tasks needed by instructors, said Rhiannon M. Hastings, lead statewide recruiter in TSTC Human Resources.

People interested in the jobs need to have at least an associate degree in one of the fields and at least three years of professional field experience. Applicants should also have professional certifications as needed for their fields, Hastings said.

Dan Bateman, a senior instructor in the Electrical Power and Controls program at TSTC in Waco, is leading the creation of the new associate degree program in Abilene.

“What we need is someone with utility or testing and maintenance experience along with utility design,” he said.

The number of electrical engineers is expected to grow by more than 16,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. West Texas had more than 400 jobs in May 2016, according to the federal agency.

David A. Junek, TSTC’s statewide department chairman for Industrial Systems and Engineering Technology, said he wants to see Industrial Maintenance faculty members who have the academic experience and have gotten their hands dirty in the workplace. Faculty will teach students earning the program’s associate degree which has an electrical specialization.

“Industrial Maintenance graduates are maintenance technicians that can not only make repairs to mechanical equipment, but are also trained to troubleshoot electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems as well.”

Jobs for industrial machinery mechanics are expected to increase by more than 23,000 jobs nationwide through 2026, according to the federal labor statistics agency. In May 2016, there were more than 4,000 industrial machinery mechanics jobs in West Texas, with the most being centered in Odessa and Midland, according to the federal agency.

Faculty in Abilene will teach classes in the first Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology being offered at the TSTC campuses in West Texas.

The number of welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the United States is expected to grow by 22,500 jobs nationwide through 2026. West Texas had more than 4,700 jobs in these fields as of May 2016, according to the federal agency.

The Electrical Power and Controls and Welding Technology programs are part of TSTC’s Money Back Guarantee initiative. Students in these programs who do not get a job in their field within six months of graduation will get their tuition back.

Hastings said Human Resources’ goal is to have the new faculty hired by early summer so they can set up classrooms and labs with new equipment in the building. Students in the programs will be able to take classes from faculty members and adjuncts in the daytime and evenings.

TSTC is a state institution offering Health Select of Texas administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid vacation, sick leave and state holidays, dental insurance, vision insurance,  life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement. In addition, the technical college offers employee development and employee appreciation events as part of its overarching goal to make TSTC a great place to work.

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TSTC Names Rick Denbow Provost

(WEST TEXAS) – Texas State Technical College has named Rick Denbow as the Provost over its four West Texas campuses. Denbow served as Interim Provost for the campuses since May.

Along with functioning as Interim Provost, Denbow was also the Senior Field Development Officer for The TSTC Foundation, an instrumental role in supporting the efforts of TSTC’s new technology center in Abilene. Denbow began working for TSTC in 2009 as the director of the Welding and Transportation Technology Division.

Denbow said he is honored to have been selected.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m very excited also,” he said. “In my tenure with TSTC, I’ve spent my time in West Texas working with the four campuses and I’ve come to know the programs and the faculty and staff. I’m really excited about going forward. Some of the things the college has done, like the most recent reorganization, have really positioned us to be successful.”

The West Texas community is one of Denbow’s favorite things about his job.

“The communities at each of the four locations are very supportive of TSTC and what we’re trying to do, and that makes our job a little bit easier,” he said. “Also, the faculty and staff are just awesome. They’re always willing to go that extra mile and I’m honored to be able to work with them.”

Denbow has lofty goals for TSTC in West Texas.

“As the Chancellor stated in an email to employees a few weeks back, there’s one word and that’s growth,” Denbow said. “That can have different meanings depending on the campus. Is it growing enrollment? Is it growing capacity? Is it growing placement? I would submit it’s all of the above. Each campus in West Texas is unique and one of my goals is to make sure we grow at each of our four campuses.”

TSTC Vice Chancellor & Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Kilgore said he is excited to welcome Denbow in the role.

“Through his experiences, Rick has a really good sense of the communities and needs of industry in the West Texas Region,” Kilgore said.

Denbow graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Texas at Austin.

“I come from the business world,” Denbow said. “With Chancellor Reeser’s focus on making TSTC a little more entrepreneurial, a little more business-like, that fits very well with my background. I think I can add value to the West Texas campuses in the provost role.”

Denbow added that TSTC’s new Industrial Technology Center in Abilene is ahead of the construction schedule. They hope to start moving employees in on Aug. 1, and classes will begin in the building in the fall. Denbow says the campus signifies a new beginning for TSTC in Abilene.

“That campus, the design and how it’s laid out, the Abilene community has never seen anything like that from TSTC,” he said. “The Abilene campus has been housed in an old hospital and we didn’t really have an opportunity to put any heavy equipment and industrial trades in there. This is a new start.”

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