Category Archives: Marshall

TSTC Graduates Help Rebuild Puerto Rico Power Grid

(MARSHALL) – In the wake of last year’s Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was in shambles. With many residents left without electricity, some of Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker graduates working for Oncor wanted to help restore power to the storm-ravaged island.

TSTC alumni Sawyer Prestridge, a 2015 graduate, and Paul Sheppard, a 2013 graduate, are among many Oncor employees recently sent by the electric service provider to assist in the island’s recovery efforts.

Prestridge left for Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in January to help rebuild the electrical grid. He volunteered to help restore the grid because he wanted to help the residents.

“It felt really good,” he said. “It was definitely a humbling experience working there. It was hard work.”

Sheppard worked in the same city in February.

“I wanted to help out,” he said. “I wanted to use the skills I was given to help the people there get the lights on. It’s a good deed.”

Prestridge said the concrete houses he saw weren’t too badly damaged, but power lines were down and wreckage was far and wide.

“There was debris everywhere,” he said. “Downed trees were stacked up 70 feet high. We mainly picked up wire and changed out electrical poles.”

Sheppard shared the same sentiments.

“It was still pretty bad,” Sheppard said. “We were sent to one of the most mountainous areas there, so not everything is accessible by truck. Trees had to be cut, but the vegetation grows back every day because it rains every day. The humidity is 100 percent. It looked like nobody had been there.”

Sheppard said the change in environment made the work difficult.

“It was definitely the hardest work I’ve done in my life,” he said. “Here in East Texas, I’m not used to all the mountains and stuff like that. It was definitely a different type of work area. The infrastructure is totally different there than it is here. The weather — it rains every single day. It may rain for 45 minutes and stop for an hour or two and then rain again. It was a totally different experience from working here in East Texas.”

TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Statewide Department Chair Eric Carithers said he is very proud of the graduates for volunteering to work on the island.

“The dedication that it takes to not only do line work, but being young in your career and being away from home for weeks to months at a time, is challenging — especially if it’s their first time being away from their families like that,” Carithers said.

Oncor has sent 80 employees to help restore power to the territory.

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology, visit

TSTC in Marshall Hosts Annual Job Fair

(MARSHALL) – Students at Texas State Technical College walked into the college’s annual job fair Tuesday with resumes in hand, hoping to leave with the promise of a job.

More than 30 employers set up at the job fair to meet with, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s 12 programs offered at the Marshall campus.

Hannah Luce, coordinator of Career Services at TSTC, said the event went well.

“It’s probably near the same turnout we usually have,” Luce said. “The job fair gives our students a good showcase of the variety of companies that are out there hiring them. It gives them networking opportunities.”

Luce said many employers were anxious to set up interviews with the students.

“Tons of students were handing out their resumes and the employers were asking for them, ready to get them in and interviewed,” she said.

Dustin Deberry, remote operations project supervisor for Matheson Gas, said the company came looking to fill positions in industrial maintenance and process operations.

“We had come and done some interviews about a month or so ago, and we liked everybody we talked to,” Deberry said. “We’ve had some promising candidates today. We want them to come to the plant that they’d be interviewing for and speak directly with the plant manager and the zone manager.”

Joe Razza, regional recruiter in Texas and Louisiana for Crown Lift Trucks, said the company does a lot of work with TSTC.

“I’ve had an ongoing relationship with the diesel and industrial maintenance programs and the instructors, so a lot of these individuals I’ve spoken with in the past,” Razza said. “Today is more of a networking event, answering any questions they might have. For the most part they’ve come up pretty prepared with resumes and things like that, so it’s been pretty good.”

Razza said the quality of individuals the college is producing is one of the many reasons why Crown maintains a great relationship with TSTC.

“We also see the passion and drive of the employees that are training those individuals, and that makes it rewarding for us,” he said.

Crown Lift has also offered workshops at TSTC’s campuses statewide to help better prepare students for the workforce.

“We’re not only offering the soft skills workshops and things like that to programs that pertain to us,” Razza said. “We’re offering them campus-wide at all the locations, to kind of give back to TSTC. The students are obtaining all of the things that they need to be successful in their career from the campuses. The soft skills give them an edge up on the competition, and we want them to be successful whether they pursue us or somebody else.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC Welding Program Receives Donation

(MARSHALL) – The Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College recently received equipment from the family of a Hallsville resident.

The in-kind donation included three oxygen bottles, three acetylene bottles, three torch rigs, two cutting torch buggies, a toolbox, a welding machine and three worktables. The equipment was valued at $2,000, according to information from The TSTC Foundation.

The equipment belonged to Hallsville business owner Hugh Lee Morris II.  Morris, who was born in Cuero, died at age 86 on Aug. 26 in Longview.

“His daughter and son wanted to give back to the program by donating his equipment to the welding program in honor of their father so it could be used to let others learn about the welding trade,” said Daniel Nixon, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Aided Manufacturing program in Marshall.

Morris’ daughter, Rebecca Freer of Fort Worth, said her father took welding classes at the Marshall campus.

“He was kind of a pack rat,” she said. “We wanted to declutter. It was just faster and easier and much more beneficial to donate to some people who could use it than let it rust and sit there or try to sell it. Dad would have liked his welding equipment to be used to teach other welding people.”

Freer said her father made cattle guards, upright fence posts and horse wash stalls on his 32-acre property between Hallsville and Marshall.

“He loved doing it himself rather than hiring it to be done,” she said.

More than 50 students are enrolled during the fall semester in TSTC’s structural welding certificate program.

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TSTC and Norbord Inc. Celebrate TWC Skills Development Grant

(MARSHALL) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Norbord Inc. of Jefferson gathered Wednesday to commemorate a $223,939 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving workers’ skills.

The grant will provide technical training to upgrade 93 workers’ skills in production, maintenance, electronics and manufacturing. The on-site training began in August and is scheduled to end in January, said David Golden, Norbord’s human resources manager.

“It is a partnership we try to take full advantage of,” said Golden about his company working with TSTC. “The training adds to the value of our plant and community.”

Aaron Demerson, director of employer initiatives for the Texas Workforce Commission, said he and state leaders want Norbord to stay competitive globally.

“We want you to come back for more to train the next generation of Texans,” Demerson said.

Norbord and TSTC have worked together before on training. Twelve employees attended two sessions earlier this year to learn basic Excel at the company’s training center.

“Partnerships like this are a continued affirmation of the great investment Texas continues to put into workforce development,” said Barton Day, provost of TSTC in Marshall.

Norbord is based in Toronto, Canada, and is a global manufacturer of wood-based panels, particleboard, oriented strand board and medium-density fiberboard. The company has 2,600 employees at 17 plants in Canada, Europe and the United States. The Jefferson plant on Nexfor Boulevard has 108 employees, some of whom are TSTC graduates working as millwrights and electricians.

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TSTC in Marshall to Host Registration Rally for Spring Semester

(MARSHALL) – Texas State Technical College will host a Registration Rally for the 2018 Spring Semester from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, in the Administration Building on East End Boulevard South in Marshall.

“The spring Registration Rally will be a one-stop shop for students that are ready to register for the spring semester,” said Patty Lopez, a TSTC student recruitment coordinator. “This event will make the registration process as easy as possible for incoming and current students.”

Visitors can take campus tours and talk to faculty members about the 12 technical programs offered at TSTC, including Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology, Cyber Security and Process Operations.

“TSTC is an affordable college that caters to placing more Texans in great-paying jobs,” Lopez said. “The first step is to visit the campus.”

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 immunization, housing application and TSI scores.

TSTC is having registration events at its 10 campuses throughout the state this fall. For information on the closest Registration Rally, log on to

For more information, contact TSTC in Marshall at 888-382-8782.

TSTC Expands Technology Certification Opportunities

(MARSHALL) – Students in three programs at Texas State Technical College are getting an opportunity to earn technology certifications as part of final exams starting this fall.

The Business Management Technology program in Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen and Marshall is offering students opportunities to earn Microsoft Office certifications.

Students in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at the in Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, along with Cyber Security majors at the Fort Bend, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, can earn Cisco and CompTIA information technology and networking certifications.

“If the industry values a certification or series of complementary certifications, and finds them necessary for our graduates in the workforce, we will implement the appropriate material in our courses,” said Bryan Bowling, director of instructional support at the Fort Bend County campus.

Expanding the concept evolved from an initiative TSTC in Marshall already had students doing.

“When I got here four years ago, the students took the class and then it was optional for them to take the certification exam,” said Randy Haley, associate vice president for student learning at the Marshall campus and statewide lead for the Computer Science division. “What I was seeing was a lot of students were not taking advantage of trying to test to see if they could get certified.”

Marshall faculty members began using certification tests as final examinations three years ago.

“There is nothing like seeing a student pass the Microsoft certification exam,” said Carolyn O’Neill, a Business Management Technology instructor at the Marshall campus. “Their excitement is hard to describe. The tears and little dances say it all. Many students study hard for their certification exam and when they see the pass score, it is so exciting. Their confidence goes through the roof.”

Expanding the use of certification tests to other TSTC campuses involved adding voucher codes to class section numbers, Haley said.

“When they registered for the first time, they paid for their test with their financial aid voucher,” he said. “Not only do they get the degree, but they get the industry certification as well.”

Students are not scheduled to have more than one class with a certification test during a semester, Haley said.

“The certifications are supposed to be hard,” Haley said. “We don’t like to double up on the students. We like them to be doing one certification per semester rather than be loading up at the end.”

Students who enter TSTC with certifications can get class credit, Haley said.

The Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses are certified Pearson VUE centers. Haley said Pearson VUE centers will be at the Fort Bend County, North Texas and Williamson County campuses in early 2018.

TSTC has statewide at least 340 students in the Business Management Technology program, more than 350 students in the Computer Systems and Network Administration program and more than 400 students in the Cyber Security program.

“TSTC is very market-driven and we are one, statewide,” said Bowling. “Our purpose is to ensure the success of our students in the workforce through the statewide lens. Therefore, we work very closely with industry leaders to determine what is most relevant for our students from an instructional standpoint.”

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TSTC Instructor Chosen for National Test Writing

(MARSHALL) – A Texas State Technical College instructor recently participated in a weeklong CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) examination development week in suburban Chicago.

Robert Brown, an instructor of Information Technology Studies, worked with nationwide professionals in the cloud management, technology infrastructure, programming, database administration and education fields to develop questions for the CompTIA IT Fundamentals examination. The test is expected to be offered nationwide in 2018 and is updated every three years. CompTIA is a nonprofit trade association providing worldwide vendor-neutral information technology certifications.

“CompTIA doesn’t have subject matter experts all the time, so what they do is reach out and try to get input,” Brown said.

Brown said the subject debate process to develop test questions was stimulating because of the group’s expertise in different areas.

“My biggest takeaway was how much CompTIA puts into test preparation and how much time they vet the quality,” he said. “They do their due diligence to make sure the industry is who is writing the test.”

Brown said he took advantage of telling group members about TSTC.

“I talked about how we are focused on getting jobs for Texans,” he said. “Most of them were jealous and said they wished their states would do what TSTC does. They really liked what they heard.”

Brown was chosen by CompTIA through an application process.

Randy Haley, associate vice president for student learning at TSTC, said Brown was a great choice for the nationwide committee.

“He knows what students need to do the jobs and what they need to know right now,” Haley said. “Being a part of that and helping with that is really an honor.”

Haley said TSTC students in Marshall test for CompTIA certifications in Network+, Security+ and A+ through the Computer Networking and Systems Administration and Cyber Security programs. He said the CompTIA IT Fundamentals test will be added this fall.

“We feel giving students the chance to take the certification tests and them passing increases their chances of getting a better job making more money,” Haley said.

Brown has been at TSTC since 2013. Before coming to the Marshall campus, he was co-owner of Inhouse Associates, an internet development firm in Longview.

Brown received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Commercial Art in 1994 from Kilgore College. He was also a member of the Commercial Art Club and Phi Theta Kappa – Gamma Omicron Chapter.

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TSTC Receives Donation from Longview Business

(MARSHALL) – Texas State Technical College recently received a valuable in-kind donation from a Longview business.

In June the Airgas Store donated welding wire valued at more than $47,000. The store, one of more than 60 operated by Airgas in Texas, specializes in welding equipment and rentals, specialty gases and fire safety equipment.

The wiring will be used primarily by welding students and is expected to last two years, said Danny Nixon, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Aided Manufacturing program in Marshall.

“A lot of times when you get deep into the fiscal year, money gets tight,” Nixon said. “This is a huge gift.”

This was the first time Airgas had made a gift to TSTC, said Jeffrey White, an Airgas account manager in Longview.

“This gives the students the opportunity to learn different welding processes they may come across once they graduate,” White said.

The gifting process started with White and an Airgas welding process specialist visiting TSTC in the winter to assess the Welding Technology program because of a request to buy new welding machines.

“I remember thinking how great it was that these students were getting a hands-on approach to welding and learning skills that would help them out immediately after graduation,” White said. “We ended by finding the right machines for them and started discussing other projects that we might be able to help them with.”

White said the business had excess welding wiring and he felt it could be put to good to use by TSTC’s welding students.

“Once approved, I got with Danny Nixon and gave him the list of different types of wire we had and asked if they could use it,” White said. “Turns out they could use everything on the list, so we loaded up our delivery truck and delivered it.”

Airgas is based in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

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TSTC in Marshall Recognizes Longtime Employee

(MARSHALL) – Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus has been educating East Texans since 1991, and one employee has been around to see much of its history.

Patricia A. Robbins, the admissions director and registrar, was recently honored at TSTC’s Employee Appreciation Day for 25 years of employment.

“Working with someone who is a walking encyclopedia of TSTC’s history here in Marshall is an absolute joy,” said Provost Barton Day. “I bet Miss Pat won’t say this, but she remembers several of our current faculty members when they first walked onto campus as students.”

Robbins said what has kept her working at TSTC has been her love for the students and seeing them succeed. She said in her job she keeps a positive outlook and encourages students to reach their academic and career goals.

“I feel true happiness when I see them on the road to success,” she said. “I counsel with them and pray with them along the way. Sometimes all they need is a little support and knowing that someone truly cares.”

Robbins’ work sweeps across several functions of the technical college, including dual enrollment.

“Pat has been very helpful and supportive,” said Michelle Ates, dual enrollment manager. “She provides great leadership to make sure the dual enrollment students’ admission and registration goals are met. If there are problems, she will look for the best means to ensure a positive experience for the high school students that leads to success.”

Before coming to TSTC in August 1992, Robbins worked for 17 years as an academic affairs administrative assistant at Wiley College in Marshall.

Robbins has a bachelor’s degree in office administration from Wiley College.

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TSTC Graduate Uses Computer Skills to Develop Business

(MARSHALL) – A Texas State Technical College alumnus is staying local with his new managed service provider business.

Joe Childress, 46, started Next View Technology Solutions last summer at his home in Marshall to provide technical work for businesses with less than 50 employees. His associate degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration from TSTC helped give him the foundation to work confidently.

“The problem-solving techniques I learned – I use in my skills today,” Childress said. “The people skills I learned from the other classes have been beneficial.”

He wanted to locate his business in Harrison County because of the need to make employees more efficient and technically savvy.

“You are going to have more up-to-date hardware, and your employees are going to get more done and get a full-time information technology person on call 24 hours, seven days a week,” he said.

Childress has attended as many Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce activities as he can to generate business interest.

“To accomplish our goals, we work in partnership with businesses, professional services, concerned citizens, and local city and county governments,” said Stormy Nickerson, the chamber’s executive director. “As a chamber, our mission is to provide quality service and leadership to our members and the community, build a healthier local economy and improve the quality of life.”

Childress graduated in 1989 from Marshall High School and worked at a machine shop and later at McDonald’s, where he went into management.

He came to a point where he needed to figure out his future. Childress determined what career field he wanted to pursue by making a list of three components of every business: accounting, technology and human resources.

Technology is what Childress ultimately chose when he graduated in 2001 from TSTC.  

“It’s always great to see a TSTC graduate work hard, continue to polish a skill set and find themselves in the position to become a small, and hopefully growing, business owner,” TSTC Provost Barton Day said. “What a great success story.”

TSTC in Marshall will have Registration Rally events on June 22, July 20 and Aug. 3 for prospective students interested in attending for the fall semester. For more information, go to

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