TSTC Presents Faculty Member of the Year Award

(HUTTO) – Employees at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County celebrated Employee Appreciation Day on June 19, a day that included fun for employees and awards for employees of the year.

George Fields, an Industrial Electrical Systems instructor who has worked at TSTC for six years, was chosen by his colleagues as Faculty Member of the Year. The Greenville, Texas, native was excited to hear the news.

“It was satisfying,” Fields said. “I like interacting with the students and helping them reach their goals. What they said they’re giving me the award for is what I try to accomplish, so it feels like I did what I set out to do.”

Fields is on his third career. The veteran retired from the Navy after serving 20 years in the military – seven years in the Army and 13 in the Navy. In the military, he served as an electronics technician. He then went on to a supervisory role and, in his last tour, taught electronics. Fields later worked as a Facilities Maintenance and Services Supervisor in shopping malls, where he stayed for another 18 years before retiring again.

Fields set out to be a teacher after working as a supervisor and realizing that there were certain skills he wanted his workers to know on the job. He began teaching at a prison in 1996.

“You like to see people reach and surpass their ability to do their job,” he said. “You know what you want them to know. You know the type of training you want them to have. It’s not that they aren’t already receiving good training. But are they getting the right training?”

After the prison, Fields taught at Blinn College and in 2011 made his way to TSTC. But teaching wasn’t his first experience with the college; Fields had attended TSTC in Waco in 1983.

“I had been working at the mall part time and going to school part time,” Fields said. “I went down to Waco and found out about TSTC and enrolled. After about two semesters, they asked me to go back to the mall as a facilities maintenance and services supervisor.”

In his short time there, TSTC made an impression on Fields, and once he began teaching, he made it his goal to return to the college.

“That was a goal of mine, to come back to TSTC as an instructor,” he said. “I said if I got that opportunity that I would, and the situation was ideal. It was a brand-new school. They needed old folks like me who knew how to get something started. So I got to get in on the ground floor and see this program start and grow.”

Employees of the campus submitted nominations for the award, and the final winner was chosen by a committee. Employees had great things to say about Fields, with one teammate writing, “Invaluable knowledge, invaluable resource, years of dedication and solid as a rock! He’s an example to us all to keep raising the bar and never stop!”

Another comment reads, “Mr. Fields is an advocate of the student and a consummate professional. If he tells you something, you can trust it is correct. He is there for the other instructors as well.”

Fields is agraduate of Saint Paul High School in Neylandville, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s (2000) and master’s degrees​ (2002) from Texas A&M University Commerce.

TSTC touts itself as “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

Brothers Find Their Careers at TSTC

(HARLINGEN) -Brothers Robert and Wade Reynolds came to Texas State Technical College after feeling insecure about their futures at Texas A&M Kingsville.

“We saw our friends and classmates graduate with debt and unable to find jobs,” said Robert. “That scared us.”

Robert was majoring in music and Wade was majoring in history. Both had taken out school loans and were constantly worried about money.

“Money was tight,” said Robert. “We’re not a rich family. How to pay for college was always a discussion.”

That is why when both men decided to return home and pursue an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology, their father Grady Reynolds was ecstatic.

“I know this is a good career goal for my sons,” he said. “I don’t want them to worry about finances and work hard, laborious jobs like I did. I want them to have a nice life.”

It was the wind farm that was erected nearby their home in Bayview that first sparked the men’s interest in the wind energy field.

“We researched jobs and wages and there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Wade. “I saw that I could find security in a career.”

Reynolds Brothers

Both brothers are expected to graduate from the program in Spring 2018 and have big dreams for themselves and each other.

Robert said he has his eyes set on General Electric and already started looking up job duties and requirements on the company’s listings.

“I hope to be a lead technician someday, or oversee an entire site,” he said. “I have a lot to work toward and look forward to.”

In the near future, Robert hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

As for Wade, he said his main goal is to find a steady job that pays well, so he can make his dream of becoming a homeowner a reality.

“I’ve always wanted my own home and I know this career can help me get there,” said Wade. “I no longer feel insecure about my future. This is where I’m meant to be.”

Robert and Wade agree that as students in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology they feel more prepared every day to enter the workforce. They added that the hands-on experience is what makes all of the difference.

Their instructor David Gomez describes the men as exceptional students who are a pleasure to teach.

“They come to school prepared, are very attentive and hard working,” said Gomez. “They both have a genuine interest in Wind Energy and that is the key for success. Both of these young men will have great success in the near future. I am certain of that.”

Both men said being at TSTC has made them better students because they do not have to worry or focus on money.

“I’ve become a better student, probably because my dad is around pushing me to get things done,” said Wade jokingly. “In all seriousness though, the stresses we had in Kingsville financially have lifted since coming to TSTC.”

Neither brother has needed to take out a loan this time around. Grants and scholarships are helping both get through TSTC debt free.

“I highly recommend TSTC to anyone looking to start a career or make a career move,” said Robert. “Not only because it’s affordable, but because the training here makes you more marketable and helps you start your life.”

Wind Energy Technology is offered at the TSTC Harlingen and Sweetwater campuses. For more information or to register for Fall 2017 call 956-364-4780 or visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Boasts a Unique Grow and Go Food Partnership

(HARLINGEN) – Recently, Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts students joined Agricultural Technology students at their on-campus greenhouse to harvest eggplants to be prepared and cooked by the up and coming chefs.

Using the latest technology to grow vegetables and fruits, instructors and students from both programs have partnered to give the students and the TSTC community the farm-to-table experience.

The idea for this joint venture came from TSTC’s Associate Vice President of Instructional Support Nicki Cone and Vice President of Instructional Support Hector Yanez.

“This project serves a variety of purposes,” said Cone. “The collaboration between two departments helps to educate the faculty concerning real-world applications. This expansion of knowledge will help to develop curriculum that better suits our industry, while giving our students a more well-rounded, innovative approach to their course work.”

Culinary Arts Instructor Emma Creps and Agricultural Technology Instructor Sammy Gavito both agree they were instantly excited with the idea of working together to give their students different perspectives ofTSTC Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts the food business.

“We recognize that a growing trend in the food industry is farm to table,” said Gavito. “So it’s important that we prepare our students to face this in the workforce.”

With initial success, Gavito’s Horticulture class and instructor Norberto Mendoza’s Crop Science class will be expanding the project, growing new crops that will be used by Culinary Arts students.

Mendoza plans to use a traditional 30-acre field located on Loop 499 and Rio Hondo Rd. in Harlingen to grow corn, while Gavito’s class will use aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil using tower gardens, and aquaponics – an aquaculture system that uses the waste produced by farmed fish to supply nutrients to the plants.

The class will have access to eight tower gardens and one new aquaponics system to grow fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons, watermelons, peppers, eggplants and zucchinis.

All the farm fish from the aquaponics system will also be given to culinary to use.

“This is very exciting for me. This is exactly the type of business I want to get into when I graduate,” said Michelle Jacobson, TSTC Agricultural Technology student. “It’s great that I’m going to get this type of experience while still in school.”

Jacobson’s classmate, Irene Loya, added this experience is especially beneficial for her because she currently owns and is preparing five acres of land, with the help of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, for specialized crops.

“The connections in the classroom that I get to make to my real life are invaluable,” she said. “As students we all get to help each other learn and become better at what we do.”

Creps, while in the kitchen with her students as they cooked the eggplants they had harvested, said this project also brings a lot of benefits to her classroom and cooking labs.

“I personally wish this partnership had started sooner,” she said. “We’re always looking for new learning opportunities for our students and this gives them the chance to see the process and challenges of where our fruits and vegetables come from.”

TSTC Agricultural Technology and Culinary Arts

Crepes also added that it saves her department money and gives the TSTC community and visitors fresh food to enjoy when her students cook for banquets and special events.

“With this partnership we get only what we need when we need it,” said Crepes. “There’s no need to get extra to save trips to the grocery store and risking that it’ll go to waste, and there is no substituting the freshness you get with farm to table.”

Crepes’ student Diego Ramirez, who is graduating in August and has already signed a contract as a culinary teacher with La Feria High School, said he wishes the project had started sooner as well so he could enjoy it more.

“What I have done so far has been a great experience. I have learned so much,” said Ramirez. “I hope to carry what I have learned from this project into my classroom at the high school.”

Cone said the ultimate goal is to see an increase in student success and cultivate a higher level of critical thinking and problem solving skills. She added students will also see an increase in awareness of the world around them, in socialization, efficiency and productivity.

“We expect to see higher retention rates and greater student satisfaction,” she said. “The cross functional collaboration between these programs will create a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We hope to begin partnerships similar to this between other programs on our campus. This is just the beginning.”

Culinary Arts is offered at TSTC’s Abilene, Waco, Williamson County and Harlingen campuses.

For more information or to register for Fall 2017 call 956-364-4755 or visit tstc.edu.


Student Success Profile – Yesenia Maldonado

(HARLINGEN) – After a long-time break from college, Harlingen native Yesenia Maldonado is now a student at Texas State Technical College pursuing her General Academic Core.

The 27-year-old single mom of four holds a 3.4 grade-point average while working part time at a farm and as a provider for her disabled mother. She is expected to complete her classes in Spring 2018.

Yesenia Maldonado

Maldonado said TSTC is her stepping stone into her dream career that was inspired by her son’s autism and ADHD diagnosis.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes at TSTC I plan on transferring to Texas State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communication science disorders and a master’s degree in speech language pathology.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a speech therapist and help other kids the way my son was helped. My son didn’t speak for a very long time because of autism and ADHD and I saw how hard everyone worked to give him the gift of speech. This is my way of giving back.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

Personally, my greatest accomplishment was finishing my first semester of college and achieving A’s and B’s. I’m proud of myself. A lot of people told me I couldn’t do it with four kids and working. And even though it’s frightening and nerve wrecking, I am doing it for my kids and myself.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned that it is never too late for an education and I want my kids to learn that also with my example. I never felt school was in my reach, but with dedication and confidence in myself I have been able to pick myself up, no matter what life throws my way, and work toward making my dreams come true.

Who at TSTC has influenced your success the most?

There are so many, I feel like I can’t name them all, but the ones that stood out were my composition instructor Heather Stuart, social and behavioral science instructor Richard Kirk and my government instructor Elizabeth Bryant. They all have a great attitude toward our learning and understanding of the material and they are always willing to help and give advice.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

Don’t be intimidated by your instructors, they’re there to give you advice and motivation when you feel like giving up. Also, build a strong support system, whether it’s family or friends because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom and stepdad.


TSTC Offering a Pipeline to Fill Plumbing Jobs

(WACO) – Cade West of Boerne already had plumbing, welding and oil field experience before registering for classes at Texas State Technical College.

He did the work after graduating in 2013 from TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio and briefly attending a four-year university.

“Our instructors tell us to treat school like a job,” said West, 22.

West is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Building Construction Technology – Project Management Inspection Specialization at TSTC. One of the classes West is taking this summer for the associate degree is Piping Standards and Materials, which is also included in the Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate program.

After graduation in 2018, West said he wants to work in the construction field and have the plumbing background to use when needed.

“It’s an honest living,” he said.

The need for pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters is expected to grow nationwide by more than 49,000 jobs through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the largest employment fields include building equipment contracting, nonresidential building construction and utility system construction.

Texas had more than 40,000 pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters as of May 2016. Workers were earning a mean average annual salary of $46,100, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land metropolitan area had the most pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters in Texas with 13,000 workers as of May 2016. The Dallas – Plano – Irving metropolitan area had more than 8,600 workers in the same period. The Waco area had more than 300 workers, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

“In Waco, there is a huge demand for qualified service technicians in both the plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) markets,” said Don Masten of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco. “Waco is aging, and we need trained people to maintain the buildings and homes as well as the aging infrastructure. With changes in technology, the process of building has sped up and become more efficient.”

Students in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate program take three semesters of hands-on classes to learn about backflow prevention, steam piping, blueprint reading and other topics.

“We are losing our older generation and don’t have as many younger people who want to get their hands dirty,” said Jimmy Bibb, a plumbing and pipefitting instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. “We are more in the line of technicians.”

Bibb said school districts should include plumbing and pipefitting in curricula, similar to how construction technology and welding are offered for high school students through specialized technical career tracks.

Bibb said the typical student entering TSTC’s certificate program should not be afraid to work. He knows all too well what it takes to earn the Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate from TSTC – he did it in 2009.

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners administers the testing and licensing for people working in the fields of plumbing, medical gas piping installation, public water supply protection, sewage disposal and natural gas.

Masten said Texas requires 8,000 registered hours as a plumber’s apprentice before taking the journeyman licensing examination.

“What this means is that a worker will have to be on the job and registered with the state for approximately four years before he or she will be considered eligible for the state exam,” Masten said. “This isn’t by accident. Plumbing is very diverse and despite improvements in material and technology, the science behind it has not changed. It takes that amount of experience under a qualified journeyman to gain the skills necessary to do the job correctly and efficiently.”

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


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.

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

Marshall Welding Student generic

TSTC Student Q&A with Sergio Gutierrez of Red Oak

(RED OAK) – Sergio Gutierrez, 20, is a Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology major at Texas State Technical College in North Texas. He is TSTC’s first Student Government Association president and is scheduled to graduate in August.

He is a 2015 graduate of Red Oak High School, where he played soccer and was a member of Hawks Against Destructive Decisions Inspiring Teens (HADDIT).

How did you learn about TSTC? “It was during a tour. I was taking drafting at the high school and I saw the program here and decided to take it. The campus is really convenient and I like it a lot. I don’t have to be away from my family.”

What do you enjoy about Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology? “I like the 3-D modeling. I have gotten good at it. I like to make costume parts, and in architecture you can make houses.”

Do you get to use the program’s 3-D printers? “It’s really fantastic. We have three and they are pretty cool. I can make the costume parts and print them out and use them.”

What have you done in the Student Government Association? “Right now I’m the only member. Student involvement is a big factor. SGA helped start clubs for Diesel Equipment Technology and Welding. I hope SGA continues after I graduate. Being the first sets the standard.”

What kind of work experience are you getting while in college? “I am doing an internship at my uncle’s cabinet shop. I am making drawings in AutoCAD and they look good. I have learned a lot to get out in the field.”

Registration for fall semester is taking place now, with two special Registration Rally events planned from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 13 and Aug. 8 at TSTC in North Texas.

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

_DSC0593 north texas sergio gutierrez july 11, 2017

TSTC Presents Staff Member of the Year Award

(HUTTO) – Employees at Texas State Technical College celebrated Employee Appreciation Day on June 19, a day that included fun for employees and awards for employees of the year.

Etsuko Martinez, senior staff assistant who has worked at TSTC for 2 1/2 years, was chosen by her colleagues as Staff Member of the Year. The Hutto resident was excited to hear of the news.

“It was definitely unexpected,” Martinez said. “I was honored and glad to be chosen.”

Employees of the campus submitted nominations for the award, and the final winner was chosen by a committee.

Employees had great things to say about Martinez, with one teammate writing, “Etsuko is dependable, efficient and unfailingly punctual. In fact, I have never worked with a person who gives as much attention to detail as she does … She also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to our students, staff and faculty. She loves people, works hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her. I believe these characteristics represent all that is good about TSTC.”

Another comment reads, “Etsuko has helped me to learn my job, and she continues to be available whenever I need advice. Etsuko always handles her work with thoroughness.”

Martinez prides herself on being able to assist her co-workers.

“I’m happy when I’m able to help somebody,” she said. “I feel accomplished.”

She reflected on a time last year when her co-workers put together a gift for her after her father passed away.

“I went back home to Japan last November for my father’s memorial service, and they gave me a very thoughtful gift,” she said. “That was really sweet of them. I really feel the support all the time, and that’s why I always want to give back to TSTC. We’re family!”

TSTC touts itself as being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for over 90 positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.


Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student Sergio Garcia is studying his General Academic Core. The Brownsville native currently boasts a 3.7 grade-point average and hopes to complete his courses by the end of summer.

The 32-year-old said he is ready to continue pursuing his career dreams after taking time off to take care of his mother as she battled a brain tumor.Sergio Garcia

“She lost her battle and I decided it was time to come back and help others like her fight,” he said.

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my classes at TSTC I plan on transferring to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

What’s your dream job?

My ultimate dream job is to help children and adults suffering with an illness, and with my career as an occupational therapist, I can do that.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

For me, my GPA is something to be proud of. I have taken at the most 17-18 credit hours and I’ve been able to maintain my grades. This is especially a huge achievement for me after being out of school for so long.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is to always help others, put them first and make them happy. My mom always instilled this in me growing up and I always followed it. I put my mom first when she was with us and now I make sure to put my wife first.

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

First there’s my government instructor Elizabeth Bryant. She reinvigorated my fire and desire to learn. Next, is my Anatomy and Physiology instructor Eduardo Saldivar, who has made learning fun and helped me steer my career decision.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?  

I want to advice students to take every single class seriously, no matter how easy they may think it is. Also, do your best and make the most of your college career and have no regrets.

TSTC Alum Owns Successful, Popular Local Restaurant

(HARLINGEN) – Frank Macias’ passion for cooking first started because of the Food Network making him hungry for success in the restaurant industry.

Now Frank Macias is the proud owner of Frankie Flav’z in Harlingen, a gourmet burger restaurant.

Though the journey was not easy, the Texas State Technical College alumnus’ restaurant has grown in popularity with burgers such as El Guapo, Sriracha Chicken Sandwich and El Chapa Burger, recipes of his own creation.

“I’ve always wanted to bring a different type of food scene to the Valley,” said Macias. “And I’m so blessed and glad toFrank Macias be doing what I’m doing.”

The Rio Hondo native graduated with an associate degree from TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in 2014 and said TSTC changed his life because, although he already worked in the restaurant industry, he had never worked in a kitchen.

“TSTC prepared me so well. It allowed me to sharpen my cooking skills, while learning the business aspect of the industry,” he said. “Because of TSTC I am now well-rounded in the food business.”

Before opening his restaurant earlier this year, Macias owned a gourmet burger food truck. It was through this first business venture that he built a strong following.

For two years, Macias’ food truck served Harlingen and surrounding communities serving up their most popular burgers such as the Cubano, consisting of braised pork cooked in a marinade placed in a buttered Bolillo bun and topped with ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and a touch of mustard.

“People doubted that my food truck could do well in the Valley, but it caught on and here we are now with a restaurant. Truly a dream come true,” said Macias.

The restaurant has not even been opened more than a month and Macias said response has been great.

“I was nervous about the transition from the food truck to a restaurant but I’m truly enjoying the experience,” he said. “Being able to see the joy my food brings to people is the most rewarding and exciting thing.”

The 41-year-old’s Yelp restaurant reviews prove Macias’ gourmet burgers are being enjoyed.

One comment read, “If you’re looking for a delicious gourmet burger prepared with just the right combination of flavors to satisfy even the pickiest of eater…look no further than Frankie Flav’z.”

Macias said however, it’s not only the food that keeps people coming back, but the service. He hires TSTC alumni. Some he went to school with and others he met later, but he never doubts their skill.

“TSTC has such a great culinary arts program,” he said. “I’m never worried about my employees’ work ethic or skills.”

So what does Macias’ future look like?

He will be reviving the Frankie Flav’z food truck for special catering events such as festivals, corporate meetings and weddings and quincenerias.

“We already cater, but I want to keep my truck. It’s my baby. It’s where it all began,” said Macias.El Luchador

Macias is also currently competing to win the Blended Burger Project for his chance to cook at the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. He has entered his burger El Luchador, which folks can vote for daily on the restaurant’s Facebook page through the end of July online.

Beard was a champion of American cuisine, cookbook author, teacher and television personality.

“Only the best of the best have ever cooked there,” said Macias. “Being able to cook at the historic James Beard House would be an honor.”

For more information on TSTC’s Culinary Arts program or to register for fall classes, go online at tstc.edu.