Category Archives: Marshall

More TSTC Programs to Expand Into Evenings This Fall

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is expanding the number of programs that will offer night classes this fall. 

Nathan Cleveland, TSTC’s associate provost, said the goal is to attract more nontraditional  students to the campus to study in programs that can help them update their skills or learn new ones. He said potential students can still work full time and take care of their families while getting an education.

Night classes in Diesel Equipment Technology and Welding Technology will be offered at the Marshall campus for the first time. The Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization and Precision Machining Technology programs will continue with evening classes.

“We are looking to expand into the nontraditional student market,” said Russell Hutcherson, an instructor in the Welding Technology program. “They can work during the day and look to better expand their options by attending TSTC.”

Philip Miller, an instructor in the Welding Technology program, said shifting into the evenings gives students more flexibility.

“It will also help because we only have two labs,unlike Waco and bigger campuses,” he said. “We can effectively multiply our space per day, which of course will help the students.”

The Welding Technology program will add a Structural and Pipe Welding certificate this fall for both day and night students.

The Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program offered its first night cohort in January. First-semester students will continue with the program’s schedule of meeting after 5 p.m. and on Saturdays while taking academic courses online.

“We recognize that we have current and potential students that are trying to build a better future for themselves and for their families,” said Edward Chaney, the program’s lead instructor. “Many of our students and potential students need to work in order to support their families while taking classes. By setting our schedules up in this manner, we offer students the opportunity to take classes and still be able to work a full schedule.”

The first night-class cohort of Precision Machining Technology program students will graduate this summer and fall, said Danny Nixon, a program instructor. He said 11 students are scheduled to earn the program’s certificate and associate degree this year.

“It has been very successful with the first group,” Nixon said. “And, we hope to continue that with the new cohort.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall at TSTC. 

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TSTC Alumni Keep Longview Technologically Together

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Three graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus are helping to keep the city of Longview safe and technologically advancing.

“There are a lot of positive aspects to working in the public sector,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program. “Government jobs not only allow for great work experience, but allow for benefits like job security, health insurance, retirement and allotted vacation time. Information technology departments normally work in groups, so it’s a great opportunity for team building and a collaborative work environment.”

Joshua Allen, Blake Gore and Rhonda Haydel work in Longview’s information systems department.

Allen has associate degrees in Computer Systems Desktop Support Technology and Computer Networking and Systems Administration and holds a CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) A+ certification.

He joined Longview’s municipal staff in 2014 and said he enjoys giving employees the tools to do their jobs. Allen’s days revolve around audits, data migration, work orders and department phone systems.

“I work on modifying people’s phones, such as changing speed-dial buttons, and some of the more complicated stuff like call trees and options that you are presented with on a call tree,” Allen said. 

He said he did not become interested in technology until he was in high school.

“I just kind of stuck with it,” Allen said. “Mainly, I knew it was an industry that was not going away. There is job security.”

Gore is an applications manager for the city. His role is to oversee the city’s applications, data analysis and geographic information systems groups. Part of his job includes what he calls “issue escalation” when software needs to be evaluated, migrated or replaced in municipal departments.

Gore said the work is rewarding.

“You are empowering people that serve the community,” he said.

Gore graduated with an associate degree in Computer Systems Networking and Technology. He said he enjoyed learning about computer hardware, programming and troubleshooting.

Gore’s advice for people wanting to pursue technology fields is to learn and understand as much as possible.

“Technology is not going anywhere,” he said. “That is what I have thought since going to TSTC. We are getting more technical, more computer-based.”

Gore became interested in technology by building computers beginning in middle school. And, it was this curiosity that solidified his decision to attend TSTC. 

“I knew somebody who was a high school teacher that recommended TSTC for certain students that he taught,” Gore said. “He spoke highly of it, and I went in that direction.”

Gore also considers himself a certification addict. Some of the certifications he has include CompTIA Server+ and CompTIA A+.

“Certifications focus you on a particular area and show you have knowledge about that particular subject,” he said.

Haydel is an information technology specialist primarily working with the Longview Police Department. She began working for the city in 2007 as a city public safety dispatcher and later attended TSTC while working full time. 

“You could easily follow the money trail to the private sector, but if you want the stability and well-rounded job security, looking outside of the private sector businesses and moving to the government side would be a better choice,” Haydel said.

She also earned associate degrees in Computer Desktop Support Technology and Computer Networking and Systems Administration from TSTC’s Marshall campus.

“TSTC had a focus on where I wanted to be,” she said.

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TSTC Candidate for Graduation: Change Circumstances to Meet Goals

(MARSHALL, Texas) – When Ryan Holm went on what he thought was just another company tour when he was a teenager, he did not know then that he was visiting his future employer.

Holm is a student operator at Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview. He got the job while still a student at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus, where he is a spring candidate for graduation. He is scheduled to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Process Operations.

“I really enjoyed my time at TSTC,” Holm said. “The classes were engaging, the instructors would help you with anything, and overall, it’s just a nice place to be.”

Nicholas Cram, an instructor in TSTC’s Process Operations program, admired Holm’s quiet confidence.

“He excelled in grasping concepts and understanding their applications,” Cram said. “He has an unusual gift of absorbing information and being able to see the big picture. He isn’t just a ‘book-smart’ young man. He has the ability to put knowledge into hands-on, practical use.”

Holm said he plans to celebrate the completion of his classes with a steak dinner with his mother, finacee and future in-laws.

“What motivates me is where I have come from and where I want to be,” he said.

Holm was born in New Mexico and later moved with his family to Jefferson.

“During high school, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do as far as my future career was concerned,” he said. “I just knew I didn’t want anything to do with oil field work, so far as the drilling aspect of it, because I watched my father, uncle, cousin and other family members consistently laid off as the economy cycled up and down as it does.”

Two months after he graduated from high school, he and his mother lost their house, and they moved in with an uncle. Holm and his mother saved enough money for a few months to build a two-bedroom house.

“Fast forward about a year, and I had moved out and was living in Marshall, working and changing oil at a shop a few blocks away from TSTC,” he said. “After living on less than $300 a week for the last two years and less than that prior, one day I finally had enough and decided it was time to do something different. And that is when I decided to enroll in classes at TSTC.”

Holm was originally in another technical program, but after one semester  he moved into the Process Operations program.

“I remembered way back in high school in agriculture class, we took a field trip to Eastman,” Holm said. “During that field trip, we were handed a paper that had the various jobs and requirements for them. One of those jobs was for operations, and it listed TSTC as one of the schools that was partnered with Eastman, so I switched.”

Holm’s advice for students is simple: Keep going.

“If you try something and it’s not working, don’t give up,” he said. “Take a different approach, try something new, but don’t give up. Don’t change your goal to suit your circumstances; change your circumstances to suit your goal.”

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TSTC Program Offers Pathway to Water and Wastewater Work

(MARSHALL, Texas) – A fascination with chemistry, environmental science, health and safety can lead to jobs in Texas for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators.

Graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Process Operations program in Marshall can pursue these jobs, along with those at chemical, gas and petroleum plants. The program exposes students to blueprint reading, industrial processes, physics, process instrumentation, and other topics.

“Our training is very broad-spectrum and can be applied to several industries that have a product requiring monitoring and control as it moves from raw material to finished product,” said Nicholas Cram, an instructor in TSTC’s Process Operations program.

The week of May 3 is Drinking Water Week as proclaimed by the American Water Works Association. The week’s theme, “There When You Need It,” celebrates the people  who keep our drinking water supply safe.

“It is important to recognize the critical role water infrastructure plays, every day, in ensuring our tap water is there when you need it for drinking, cooking and hygiene,” said David LaFrance, the AWWA’s chief executive officer.

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators work to disinfect water, take samples, record meters, gauge readings and do equipment cleaning and maintenance.

Texas has more than 10,800 water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers are tested and licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which also offers online and in-person continuing education courses for workers.

The city of Marshall’s water treatment facility can produce 10 to 15 million gallons a day, while its wastewater treatment plant can handle eight to 9 million gallons a day. 

Eric Powell, the city’s public works director, said his plant operators work 12-hour shifts during the round-the-clock operations.

The water treatment plant staff uses a supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, system to monitor flow rates and other measurements.

“We do this via wireless and cellular connections and computer software,” he said. “That technology provides us an opportunity to manage remotely. Before that, you had to go to each facility and read a pressure gauge.”

Powell said technology for water treatment changes quickly and can often be costly.

“Wastewater treatment is very traditional,” he said. “The technology is the pumps, motors, filters and screens. It is not software- and computer-based.”

The federal bureau has projected more than 120,000 jobs nationwide up 2028, with people having automation and mechanical skills gaining better opportunities for employment. Powell said college internships are great opportunities for students to learn about water and wastewater work.

“You will always have a job because you need drinking water and there needs to be a place for wastewater to go,” Powell said. “You have to have a sense of public service in your head. We will always need young people to follow the retiring group.”

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TSTC Student Motivated by Career Change

(MARSHALL, Texas) – D’Angelo Thomas of Longview made the commitment and stuck with it.

Thomas chose to attend Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus because he wanted to do something different in his life. He previously worked in the oil and gas field and was a commercial truck driver before enrolling.

He chose the Industrial Systems program because of its diversity of subjects. Students in the four-semester associate degree program learn about basic electrical theory, blueprint sketching, commercial wiring, compressors, pumps and other topics.

“I had some understanding about industrial systems coming from the oil field,” he said. “But in coming to TSTC and being in classes, it opened my eyes to more of how everything goes.”

Thomas is a candidate for graduation this spring with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization.

Thomas said he enjoyed learning about hydraulics and pneumatics and is grateful to TSTC’s staff for fitting in classes around his work schedule.

Edward Chaney, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program, said Thomas has been a wonderful student to teach.

“He has shared some of his past with me and he has been down some bad roads,” Chaney said. “He has turned all that around to do his best to be a good father and husband. He is very respectful and a joy to spend time with in or out of the classroom. He is always respectful.”

Thomas has worked for nine months at Advanced Technology Services Inc., which has a contract with TrinityRail in Longview. He uses equipment manuals and searches online to learn in-depth information on how the company’s machines operate.

Thomas said he and his co-workers are the ones who are called on to troubleshoot problems and get equipment back up and running. 

“Every piece of equipment is challenging, I would say,” he said.

Thomas grew up in Longview and he was active in sports at Longview High School. At that time of his life, college was not on his mind.

“As I got older, I started thinking more about things like that,” he said.

Motivation is easy for Thomas to find.

“It is my family, but I have just been the kind of person that always wants to do something,” he said.

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TSTC Student Builds on Work Ethic in Welding

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Dakota Smith of Gladewater learned early on the importance of a good work ethic, especially in a welding booth.

“Once I have something to do, that’s all I focus on until it is completed, and I do it to the best of my abilities,” she said.

Smith is scheduled to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology this spring from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. She already has a structural welding certificate from TSTC’s Marshall campus.

“I was the only girl in my Certificate 1 class for welding,” she said. “I went above and beyond in a class of guys.”

Smith said TSTC Welding Technology instructors Rusty Hutcherson, Philip Miller and Patrick Reed, all of whom teach at the Marshall campus, are the best at what they do.

“She was probably the best student I have had, as far as the bookwork  goes, and one of the best welders too,” Miller said. “She once got every online objective — quizzes and tests — done for every class during the first week of classes.”

At first, Smith’s father did not like the idea of her becoming a welder. 

“I loved working outside with my dad growing up, and that (welding) was the one thing he never wanted me to do,” she said. “I am great at it, and he is very proud of me.”

Smith is a graduate of Gladewater High School. After graduation, she started as a nursing major at another college before changing her career path and making the switch to TSTC. 

“I picked TSTC because it is the best of the best in technical schools,” Smith said.

After finishing her associate degree, Smith wants to do welding or underwater welding as a member of the U.S. Navy.

“After being in at least four years, my plan is to go back to TSTC’s Marshall campus and get my structural and pipe welding certificate and work for Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview,” she said.

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Virtual events keep TSTC students engaged

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College students are facing a new challenge with online learning.

Michael LeRoux, coordinator of Retention Services for the West Texas campuses, said the staff wanted students to have a sense of normalcy. Through a brainstorming session with team members, LeRoux said the idea of a daily virtual experience was the way to go.

These experiences include Trivia Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, and discussions about what students face working at home.

“We are talking a lot about time management in what is our new normal,” LeRoux said. “We are doing things online that we did during our leadership luncheons. We had to adjust the approach by doing them online.”

Belinda Palomino, Harlingen’s Student Life and Engagement coordinator for TSTC, said students are wanting something positive to do with their time.

“We are there for the student experience on campus and wanted to keep that going in these times of uncertainty,” she said.

Eight students participated in the first Wellness Wednesday event, LeRoux said. However, as word spreads, he expects the numbers to grow.

There is an incentive for students, LeRoux said. Each student who signs in will have a chance to win prizes and shout-outs in future events.

There is also the chance to be the top campus. LeRoux said each of the 10 TSTC campuses is conducting virtual activities. But Wellness Wednesday is a statewide challenge. With the theme “Commit 2 B Fit,” students will have a chance to win prizes throughout the month.

“All students have to do is log 30 minutes of activity in order for it to count toward the challenge,” he said.

LeRoux and other staff members will send wellness tips and links to workout videos to help keep students active. One of the wellness tips was for students to do school work outside because, as LeRoux said, it can “break up the day.”

The experiences will vary by campus, and Palomino said Harlingen students can expect online hangouts with counselors, receiving positive messages. She said that a virtual movie night is in the works.

“With the different demographics, we are setting up each experience specific to where we are at,” Palomino said.

Fridays have been set aside as a virtual hangout for students just to talk about the week, LeRoux said.

“The students participating so far have really liked the activities,” he said. “We are getting some very positive feedback.”

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TSTC Employees in Marshall Recognized With Statewide Award

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Three employees at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus have been honored for their work and skills.

Angela Bross, Carol O’Reilly and Josh Stampley have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“Josh is not just a top-notch instructor, but the backbone of Marshall’s SkillsUSA efforts,” said Bart Day, provost of TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Carol does so much of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting. She possesses an absolute wealth of knowledge and epitomizes our core values every day. Angela’s approachability and genuine nature make such a difference for our students.”

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 mission,” said TSTC Chancellor & CEO Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.” 

Bross lives in Avinger and began working at TSTC in April 2019 as the campus counselor.

“My motivation for my work is the students,” she said. “For me, it’s all about the students. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful team of people that I work with that continue to motivate me daily.”

Bross said she was surprised by her recognition.

“I feel so honored and privileged to be working with the staff and faculty not only on the Marshall campus, but with those I have the good fortune to work with.”

O’Reilly lives in Linden and is a campus senior administrative assistant. She has worked at TSTC for more than six years.

“I support up to 13 programs within Student Learning, as well as many faculty and staff on the Marshall campus, including a statewide department chair and associate provost,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly said she was happy to be nominated for the award by her co-workers.

Stampley lives in Marshall and has taught in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology program for more than three years. He said he enjoys teaching because he gets to experience students craving the knowledge their instructors have.

He said he is thankful and appreciative for the recognition.

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Zoerner sees opportunities for wind energy students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – One job need that is not going away anytime soon is that of wind energy technician.

Texas State Technical College Wind Energy Technology instructor Patrick Zoerner said that in light of today’s headlines, more people may look to change careers.

“I think what is happening today (with COVID-19) will open up everybody’s eyes,” Zoerner said. “People will be asking themselves, ‘Is this what I want to be doing (careerwise)?’”

The Harlingen campus offers a two-year associate of applied science curriculum in Wind Energy Technology and a three-semester certificate program for wind energy technicians.

“I think we will have a good influx of students coming this fall,” Zoerner said. “I think that it, along with the lineman program we are starting, will be good for the local workforce.”

Zoerner always tells new students they will need to have thick skin to work inside a wind turbine cell. But he also preaches safety “first and foremost.”

“This is not for the faintest of hearts. It is going to be hard work,” he said. “You are going to have to work in the heat. It could be up to 160 degrees in the cell at the top.”

With TSTC temporarily moving to remote classes at this time, Zoerner said current students will have several tasks to complete online, including researching wind energy companies.

He said most of the students had completed climbing requirements prior to this semester.

“It has been a lot of refresher stuff this semester,” Zoerner said of tower climbs. “I had them climb to allow them to go through the cycle on a routine basis. It (the extended spring break) should not really affect us.”

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program: Make It Difficult for Hackers to Get Information During COVID-19 Crisis

(MARSHALL, Texas) – As East Texans adapt to an uncertain future of self-isolation and businesses reducing hours or temporarily closing, online shopping is becoming the way for consumers to acquire what they want.

And for those people who do not shop online much, they could be a prime target for scammers.

“From a security perspective, the most important thing a consumer can do is make it difficult to get their information,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Cybersecurity program in Marshall. “Most consumer hackers will give up quickly if challenged.”

Hertel said people should use a “defense in depth” approach to create multiple layers of security. She recommends consumers follow cybercrime and security journalist/blogger Brian Krebs’ three rules: If you did not look for it, do not install it; update what you have installed; and if you no longer need it, get rid of it.  She added to Krebs’ guidelines: If it seems too good to be true, it is.

Hertel said people should have an active antivirus system and a software firewall, along with a secure home network.

“Put a password on your router and wireless networks, and hide them from anyone that might be driving by,” she said. “Make sure your router is encrypting your network traffic so your usernames, passwords and banking information are scrambled and cannot be seen.”

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau received more than 28,000 complaints and at least 10,000 scam reports nationwide related to online shopping.

“With identity theft, there is never a 100 percent guarantee that it will happen to you, but there are things you can do not to become a victim,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and chief executive officer of the bureau’s Central East Texas office in Tyler.

The bureau recommends consumers do online research before making purchases through social media and websites. The agency advises to research sellers, use a credit card for secure online payments, take time to think about purchases and keep documentation of all orders.

Mills said consumers should be aware of fake websites, malware and clickbait when perusing the internet. She said not to shop when using Wi-Fi hotspots because they are not secure.

“If a hacker is in the vicinity, they might have access to your information,” she said.

Mills said consumers should utilize locally-owned stores as much as possible.

“You can verify the legitimacy a little better, and when you go there, you are supporting the local economy,” she said.

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