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.”

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

TSTC Student Q&A with Jordan Harris of Tyler

(WACO) – Jordan Harris, 26, of Tyler is working toward associate degrees in cyber security and digital forensic specialist at Texas State Technical College in Waco.

Beginning this fall the digital forensic specialist degree was changed to a two-semester advanced technical certificate, but Harris is still able to finish the associate degree program. He is scheduled to graduate in December from TSTC.

Harris is a 2010 graduate of Whitehouse High School in Whitehouse in Smith County.

What got you interested in studying technology? “I have always had an interest in computers. Digital forensics is the main degree I want to get a career in. The act of searching for something that may or may not be there is interesting to me.”

How did you learn about TSTC? “I learned about it through family members that know people who graduated from here and have had success.”

What do you like to do when you are not in classes or studying? “I’m normally playing fantasy-based, role-playing video games or riding my mountain bike at Cameron Park.”

What advice would you give to high school students? “I would tell them to start college early, as soon as graduating from high school. You should have a basic idea of your major and go with something that makes you happy.”

What are your plans after graduating from TSTC? “I would like to go into the U.S. Air Force and get certifications and do things in the Department of Defense.”

Some of the cyber security fields that are expected to grow through 2024 include networks and systems administration and information security analysis. People studying digital forensics can pursue jobs in the forensic science technology field, which is expected to grow by at least 3,500 jobs through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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

 

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Erika GonzalezTexas State Technical College student Erika Gonzalez is a 31-year-old mother of two who is determined to show her children that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

The Weslaco native is pursuing an associate degree in Biology and hopes to graduate Spring 2019.

In addition to studying, Gonzalez keeps herself busy by volunteering with the TSTC Service Squad and with the TSTC Cafeteria.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I will apply for the Dental Hygiene program. I’m a dental assistant and I’m ready to take my career to the next level.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work as a dental hygienist. It’s my passion. I want to help promote the importance of oral health care and help boost people’s confidence by helping them maintain a healthy mouth and smile.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been getting involved and becoming active on campus and in my community. Doing this has helped me break out of my comfort zone and realize new opportunities.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

Going to school, working and being a mom has not been easy, but it has taught me to keep pushing forward and never stop learning. I want to be a good example for my children so I must keep going and make my dreams come true so that they see everything is possible.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

Everyone at TSTC has had an influence on my success, from the people who helped me register and my instructors to the folks at Student Life and the cafeteria. They have all given me so much motivation and encouragement. They are always there to help.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

It’s the same advice I give my children: take advantage of your educational opportunities, never give up, find your passion and make your dreams come true. TSTC is here to help. Faculty and staff truly care about their students.

Bon Appetite: TSTC Culinary Institute Hosts First Cooking Demos

(HARLINGEN) – Get cooking with Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Institute during their first-ever Saturday cooking demonstrations.

There will be four, three-hour sessions available in the fall and scheduled for, September 16, 30, October 28 and November 11 and they are open to the community.

“This is new and exciting for us. It’s going to take our program to the next level,” said Chef Emma Creps, TSTC Culinary Institute lead instructor.

Saturday cooking demonstrations are hosted by TSTC’s Meat Preparations class at the culinary kitchen and dining room where students will prepare dishes using the meat of the day and fresh vegetables while explaining step-by-step preparation procedures and recipes.

For $30, participants will be able to ask questions, learn professional trade secrets and get to taste some great meals.Culinary Arts

Dishes to be featured in the sessions range from chicken cordon bleu, braised short ribs, beef wellington and stuffed pork chops to baby back ribs, grilled salmon and crab cakes.

In addition to enjoying the day’s dish after the demonstration, the paying attendees will receive an apron with the TSTC logo and copies of the recipes they can use at home.

“This is a great opportunity not only for our community, but also for our class,” said Creps.

Creps said she always stresses to her students the importance of not only being great cooks, but also leaders in their profession. So, hosting events like Saturday cooking demonstrations is one way she gives her students real-world, hands-on experience.

“Our students are going to learn to interact with people, take care of their guests and gain confidence through this experience,” said Creps. “Leadership is important and this will help prepare them.”

TSTC Culinary Institute student Antonio Anguiano will be one of sixteen students hosting the cooking events and said he is excited for this chance.

“Something like this gives us great experience and prepares us even more for life after college,” said Anguiano. “We also get to showcase our program to the community and share cooking tips and recipes they can use at home.”

Creps said each session is limited to 20 people, and she encourages the community to come

out and support the Rio Grande Valley’s up-and-coming chefs.

To make reservations for the cooking demonstrations, call 956-364-4754 or for more information on TSTC’s Culinary Institute visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Gives Student Chance at Success

(HARLINGEN) – Luis Silva, a stellar student at Texas State Technical College, learned the hard way that a four-year university is not for everyone.

The 23-year-old Mechatronics Technology student started his college career at a local university studying Electrical Engineering because everyone in high school told him he had to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“I was always told I had to go to a four-year school. But that was the right choice for them, not for me,” said Silva. “My grades suffered and so did my confidence.”

The Roma native added that he considers himself a hands-on learner so learning solely from lectures and books was difficult for him.

“I learn by doing,” he said. “And TSTC has been able to provide me with the learning environment I need to excel.”

All TSTC programs are made up of at least 60 percent hands-on learning on industry standard equipment. And, the majority of faculty are seasoned veterans who have worked in the real-world industry.Luis Silva (left) Mechatronics Technology

Today Silva is pursuing an associate degree in Mechatronics Technology, which combines various disciplines within the engineering field, including electrical.

“A large part of my day is working hands-on with machines similar to what is in industry,” he said. “I’m not even close to graduating, but if I were to be offered a job tomorrow I would feel fully prepared and confident.”

Mechatronics Technology Lead Instructor Rolando Leija said he sees Silva going far in his career.

“He has a goal and has his eyes set on companies he wants to work for,” said Leija. “There’s no doubt he’ll be successful.”

The Rio Grande Valley is home to Silva and he hopes to stay in south Texas, but said he keeps an open mind and won’t shut doors of opportunities if they are opened.

Silva’s goal is to work for American Electric, Toyota or Oncor utilities when he graduates in either the electrical, maintenance or machine operations side.

TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology prepares students like Silva for careers in electronics, mechanics, robotics, instrumentation and computer control systems and positions such as electrical engineering technicians, mechanical engineering technicians and electro-mechanical technicians.

“This field is so broad and gives our students a number of career options to pursue,” said Leija. “And because the majority of our training is hands-on our students are highly skilled and ready to be productive in the workforce.”

As for Silva, he said transferring to TSTC was the best decision he could have made for his career and future.

For more information on TSTC Mechatronics Technology, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Aviation Programs Receive Jet Engine

(WACO) – Rick Fazollo of Waco is 5 feet 8 inches in height but is looking forward to the tall challenges looming over him in the aviation maintenance hangar at Texas State Technical College.

Fazollo, 28, an Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology major, said he is eager to start troubleshooting and repairing a recently gifted multimillion dollar CFM56 high-bypass turbofan jet engine used in Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737 fleet.

“When I was in the Marines, I worked with turbine engines,” said Fazollo, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Seeing it being brought here was breathtaking.”

The 5,500 lb. and at least 6-foot-tall engine will be used by students in TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology programs. Southwest Airlines will give the aviation maintenance programs the engine’s instruction manuals later this fall so it can be incorporated into classes.

“It’s going to give our aviation mechanics a boost in their learning,” said Carson Pearce, TSTC’s statewide transportation division director in Waco.

Pearce and Kelly Filgo, lead instructor for the airframe and powerplant technology programs at TSTC, both said it would be impossible to purchase an engine like this for class usage. They said in the past students have only been able to see photographs of this kind of engine in theory classes.

“We are getting students in front of it with their eyes,” Filgo said. “The students are very aware of what a great gift this is.”

Christopher Scheel, 26, of Houston is majoring in the airframe and powerplant technology programs and said he has been impressed so far with the engine.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how the cooling systems work,” he said. “It’s a really good opportunity to get your hands on something like this.”

Pearce said TSTC has worked to build relationships with Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, which are both based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Pearce said Southwest Airlines has hired some of TSTC’s Aircraft Dispatch Technology students and American Airlines has employed past Aircraft Pilot Training Technology graduates.

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

 

BEST Robotics to Kick Off Saturday

(SWEETWATER) – Big Country BEST Robotics will mark the start of its 2017 competition with a kickoff event at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

The event, held at The Center at Texas State Technical College, will give students a glimpse into this year’s contest objectives.

“This is where we’ll reveal this year’s game challenge,” said Richard Smola of Ludlum Measurements, who is serving as co-hub director of Big Country BEST Robotics. “They’ll see the scenarios and learn how their robot will need to perform.”

Students will also go over contest rules and pick up their robot-building supplies at the event.

“We give them everything that they need,” Smola said. “Plywood, PVC, wire — everything they need to build a robot. Supplies like motors and programming tools are reused each year. These are middle school and high school students, and they all receive their supplies to start building on the same day.”

Texas State Technical College partners with Ludlum Measurements to co-sponsor the Big Country BEST Robotics program, with Ludlum leading the event this year and TSTC supplying the venue and event volunteers.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers, and the venue is really important,” Smola said. “With The Center we have a nice, big space, and we have the expertise of those volunteers from TSTC and Ludlum who’ve helped in prior years.”

BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help students develop technological literacy skills and encourage interest in engineering, science and technology.

Students have six weeks from the kickoff event to the final game day event. Game day will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at The Center at TSTC.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

 

-#-

TSTC to Celebrate Student Center’s 20th Anniversary

(SWEETWATER) – Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater will celebrate the 20th anniversary of “The Center,” the campus’ 36,000-square-foot recreational facility, with a commemorative ribbon cutting event at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, inside the building’s Seminar Room.
Former TSTC President Homer K. Taylor, who served as manager of development at the time, said in the ’90s TSTC exhibited a need for this building.
“First and foremost, our campus is somewhat isolated,” Taylor said. “We are a few miles from town, so our residential students needed a place to be able to use. Prior to this building, our students had a small building where students had like two pool tables and some table tennis. The building was shared with health services and the Dean of Students office. It was a very small place for the number of students we had. Students needed a place to add winter-type intramural sports and a cardio/fitness center. We were also in the middle of adding more housing for students, so we needed a facility that resident students could use and enjoy.”
Taylor said the facility not only filled a need for TSTC, but for the community as well.
“Dr. Clay Johnson, president of TSTC in Sweetwater at the time, had a dream to build a facility that was first class that both our students and the community could use and enjoy,” Taylor said. “In pursuing the plans for the Student Center, Clay and I visited the Cooper Fitness and Cardio Center in Dallas and modeled parts of the facility after the Cooper Center. The Center (at TSTC) offered the community a public place that would have a cardio/fitness center, a workout facility and a public meeting place.”
Maria Aguirre, TSTC executive director of compliance, agrees.
“The Student Center is a place the community has used since its opening,” she said. “We’ve hosted banquets, proms, meetings, workshops, competitions, conventions, practices for basketball and so much more for many community organizations and companies. The Rotary Club of Sweetwater regularly meets in the Seminar Room and has done so for many years. The Student Center is at the heart of our community.”
Since The Center was considered an auxiliary building, state funds could not be used to build it. A community-wide fundraiser was held to raise money to construct the building.
“This was the first time in Sweetwater to conduct a fundraising campaign to build such a facility,” Taylor said. “In The Center, there is a plaque of early donors that made a pledge and financial commitment for this facility. The goal for this building was to raise about $1 million to $1.5 million for this project.”
Aguirre said that even after 20 years, people ask if The Center is a new facility.
“The staff at the Student Center has cared for that facility very well,” she said. “Most prospects or visitors to the campus give great compliments to our Student Center and are surprised to find out it has been around for 20 years.”
Cake and punch will be served at the ribbon cutting. After the ceremony, attendees can also enjoy a lunch of grilled lemon pepper chicken or hamburgers for the discounted rate of $7.

 

-#-

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Ashley Gonzalez is an Education and Training student at Texas State Technical College. She expects to receive her associate degree Summer 2018.

The 19-year-old, Los Fresnos native also serves as TSTC’s Student Government Association Treasurer and works as the TSTC Game Room lead attendant.

Ashley Gonzalez

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduating I plan on transferring to Texas A&M Kingsville to pursue a bachelor’s degree in teaching, specializing in special education.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be able to become the kind of teacher that changes lives and makes a difference. Someday though, I hope I can become a school counselor or an instructor teaching others how to be great teachers.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment while at TSTC has been becoming treasurer of the Student Government Association. It was a task out of my comfort zone, but getting involved has really opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available beyond the classroom and has allowed me to grow as a person.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to not give up, no matter the situations life throws at you. Like almost everyone, I’ve had to overcome obstacles and that’s why I have a semi-colon tattoo that reminds me to keep going every day.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My brother and TSTC Biomedical graduate Roel Gonzalez has been my greatest influence. I saw how much school was a struggle for him, but he kept going and finally graduated with a job offer. In everything he does he perseveres and that is why my brother is my hero.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to get involved on campus through clubs and volunteering. It really helps you grow as a person and allows you to meet new people and make new friends. Also, study, study, study and do what you’re passionate about.

TSTC to Offer First Continuing Education Diesel Program

(HARLINGEN) – The Office of Workforce Education and Continuing Education at Texas State Technical College will offer a Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Specialist program that will launch in September.

This program is a first for TSTC’s continuing education office and the only continuing education course of its type in the Rio Grande Valley.

“We’re excited for this program,” said Adan Trevino, TSTC Continuing Education Transportation Center coordinator. “It has been in the works for some time now and it’s needed.”

The new diesel program was created through a partnership with TSTC Automotive Technology program in Harlingen and the Diesel Equipment Technology program in Waco, which have assisted with curriculum and have donated diesel engines, semi-tractor trailers and lab space for hands-on training.

“We built this course around industry need,” said Trevino. “These types of positions are in demand statewide and nationally.”

The six-week course will offer day and night classes and will mirror Waco’s diesel program. Every class is 90 percent hands-on training to prepare students for a career that could pay up to $50,000 to $70,000 a year.TSTC Continuing Education Diesel Program

“We took courses TSTC offers in our diesel certificate programs and combined them into eight classes,” said Trevino. “With this program you can earn a certificate in six weeks instead of one year.”

Students who complete this program also have the opportunity to take the Cummings Engine Certification program online.

Trevino said earning this additional certification makes students more marketable and competitive when looking for jobs at dealerships and trucking companies.

“We have contacted some of the most respected companies to work with and asked them to give us industry advice,” Trevino added.

Instructors, with more than 25-years experience in the field, and Trevino are working closely with companies such as Rush Truck Center, First Truck Choice, Swift, Longhorn Bus Sales and PetroChem Transport Inc. to customize training.

Garrett Wright, son of PetroChem Transport Owner Chris Wright, will be one of the program’s first students.

The 18-year-old is familiar with TSTC since attending as a dual enrollment student in high school. Wright said he and his dad knew immediately that enrolling was the right decision.

“Our company works closely with TSTC already and we know the success that people see when they leave the college. So as soon as I heard about this program I enrolled,” Wright said. “I know I’ll run my dad’s company one day so this will help me become well-rounded in the industry.”

Students enrolled in the course can expect to learn diesel shop safety and procedures, diesel engine testing and repair, powertrain and diesel tune-up and troubleshooting and tractor trailer service and repair.

And because each six-week class is made up of only six to eight students, classes are small, allowing for more one-on-one with the instructors and an opportunity for students to learn from each other as well.

Those who successfully complete the course can find career opportunities in areas such as fleet maintenance, heavy equipment maintenance and dealership service.

“Our goal is to accommodate everyone who is looking to come back to school to fulfill their dream of an education the best way we can,” said Trevino. “And we are so excited to get started and meet our first group of students next month.”