TSTC Aircraft Pilot Students in Demand to Fill Jobs

(WACO) – Students in the Aircraft Pilot Training Technology program at Texas State Technical College are seeing an array of job options once they graduate.

“There aren’t enough pilots being trained to meet the need,” said Trey Cade, director of Baylor University’s Institute for Air Science, which partners with TSTC in pilot training. “Airlines need to be flying more routes and need more airplanes.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for airline and commercial pilots are expected to increase by 4 percent through 2026.

“The demand is everywhere, specifically at the regional level. Everyone is fighting each other for the ability to get you, the pilot, to come to one of us,” said Marie Didonna, a cadet manager for Envoy Air Inc. “It’s kind of like the buyer’s market for housing; it’s the pilot’s market for a job.”

Although traditionally a male-dominated field, the aviation industry is seeing an increase in female pilots.

“Our female cadet numbers are going up,” Didonna said. “Those interests are really taking off, and it’s easier to spread the word when you can say, ‘Look, these are female pilots.’”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2018 Active Civil Airmen Statistics report, there were more than 46,400 female pilots in 2018 compared to around 39,600 in 2013.

“It’s great to see a little girl look up at you and say, ‘That’s amazing; I didn’t know I could be a pilot,’” Didonna said.

TSTC’s Aircraft Pilot Training Technology students take classes and do all flight training at the campus airport. Baylor students do coursework at their home campus and flight training at TSTC.

“I would definitely recommend the program to anyone who is seriously interested in becoming a pilot,” said Noelle Smith, an 18-year-old Aviation Sciences major at Baylor from Fort Worth doing pilot training at TSTC. “They get you in the plane first semester. You’re immersed in it to make sure you like it.”

Aviation students from both institutions are given helpful perks to help jump-start their careers. TSTC offers a Part 141 training program that enables Baylor graduates to receive a 500-hour reduction from the required 1,500 flight training hours. TSTC students who graduate with an associate degree receive a 250-hour reduction.

“The 141 program here at TSTC is very professional,” said Andrew Dolan, a TSTC flight instructor and Baylor aviation alumnus. “You really get the good training you need here to excel and advance further in the industry.”

The annual mean wage for commercial pilots in Texas as of May 2017 was more than $105,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC has the largest airport in the United States operated by an educational institution and includes a dual runway operational control tower.

“I like how it [the program] is structured,” said Alejandro Ledesma, 21, a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Training Technology major from Dallas. “They don’t just make pilots, they make quality pilots. I’m not trying to be another average pilot.”

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

TSTC in Waco Hosts Industry Job Fair

(WACO) – More than 860 Texas State Technical College students met potential employers from throughout the nation and Texas on Thursday at its Industry Job Fair.

Students were lining up to register about a half hour before the 9 a.m. start of the event at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center. Inside, students were treated to more than 100 companies looking to fill jobs for diesel equipment mechanics, industrial maintenance workers, instrumentation employees, electricians, plumbers and welders.

Galaxy Builders Ltd. in San Antonio has hired six TSTC graduates in recent years, said Ramiro Contreras, the company’s executive vice president.

“I have had really good success,” he said.

Contreras said he was searching for potential assistant project managers.

“There’s a misconception that everyone swings a hammer,” he said.

Boeing attended its first campus Industry Job Fair, with representatives seeking aviation mechanics, industrial maintenance workers and electrical employees.

“We really like how we are getting students that are matched to what we are looking for,” said Chris Rustik, a Boeing equipment maintenance manager. “The students are eager to find out information, so we appreciate that.”

Some TSTC alumni returned to campus to job recruit.

Joseph Jacobs, a support services manager for the Waco Independent School District, graduated in 2000 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.

He said the school district, one of Waco’s largest employers, looks for more than teachers. Jacobs said computer networking is one of the fields that workers are sought for.

Students asked questions, clutched company brochures and handed out resumes to business representatives.

Cesar Vazquez, 19, of Red Oak is studying in the Diesel Equipment Technology program. He talked to a few companies and felt good about his job prospects.

“I’m here to get a job in the diesel industry because I like working on diesels and I have since I was a little boy,” Vazquez said. “My first truck was a diesel, and I just like working on them.”

Tanner Whitsel, 19, of Giddings is also studying in the Diesel Equipment Technology program.

“I’m here to get a job close to home,” he said. “The Industry Job Fair is important because it has a lot of jobs you may not see that are closer to home than you think.”

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

TSTC’s EMS Program Turns Experience Into College Credit

Time for an upgrade? The Emergency Medical Services program at Texas State Technical College in Abilene recently created a program that brings more opportunity to current and future students.

The EMS program now gives certified paramedics and emergency medical technicians college credit for some certifications they already have. The certifications are transferred toward earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic to becoming licensed paramedics.

“We are offering an opportunity for students who already have some experience,” said Ronnie Pitts, an EMS instructor and the college’s statewide department chair. “We evaluate the certifications they have already obtained, and they can transfer those certifications toward our degree plan here at TSTC.”

To take advantage of the program’s credit by certification, a student must already be a certified EMT or paramedic.

“When these students graduate, they will have a college degree on top of all the previous certifications they already obtained to work in the field to be more marketable in their job hunt. It helps our students save time and money, and to increase their growth in the field,” Pitts said.

Pitts stated that students can save time because instead of having to retake the basic courses to be admitted into a paramedic program, TSTC will accept the Texas Department of State Health Services certifications as college credit after a student credit evaluation is completed along with a $25 fee per course that is transferred. Students are only required to take 15 hours, or 20 percent, of the degree plan at TSTC to earn the associate degree.

Randall Noe, a firefighter/paramedic with the Mineral Wells Fire Department, earned his certifications through another institution and was able to transfer all of his credits to TSTC.

“I want the degree because it can further your career,” Noe said. “I’m able to earn it online, so it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule much.”

This will be Noe’s first degree. He is expected to graduate in summer of 2019.

Zachary Henderson, a firefighter/paramedic with the Baytown Fire Department, earned his EMT basic certification at TSTC but his paramedic certification through a third party.

“My time at TSTC really helped me in the long run because it laid the foundation for other training,” Henderson said. “My goal is to become a teacher, and the degree is important to have because it gives me that option and the opportunity to go even further with my degree and get a bachelor’s.”

Henderson chose the program with TSTC because he can complete it online while still working in the Houston area. Henderson is expected to graduate with his associate degree in spring of 2019.  

Once a student graduates from the program and passes the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam, he or she can work with emergency medical services, schools, hospitals or as safety officers.

TSTC’s EMS program is always accepting applications and hosts an information session every Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Industrial Technology Center at 2082 Quantum Loop in Abilene.

For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC in Abilene is offering state certified paramedics and ETMs the opportunity to earn an Associate degree and work toward becoming a licensed paramedic.

TSTC, Valley Metro partner to meet industry needs

Texas State Technical College, in partnership with Valley Metro, recently started a Professional Bus Driver Training course through TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education to help fill a regional need.

The first class began the 80-hour, two-week course on March 5 and students in the class will receive preparatory training for both written and driving exams, and will receive hands-on training thanks to a bus donation from Valley Metro.

“This course was created to provide advanced training that can lead to a good paying job,” said Adan Treviño, TSTC Continuing Education special projects coordinator. “With this class we’re filling a demand and providing highly-skilled individuals into the workforce.”

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Valley Metro Director of Regional Transit Tom Logan said the bus donation not only ensures that students in the bus driving course receive the hands-on training they need to be successful but also helps fill an employment need.

“Public and private bus agencies are in need of certified and trained bus drivers,” said Logan. “TSTC’s training program gives us the source to hire drivers to fill our vacancies.”  

Logan added that through a long-time partnership with TSTC, he has witnessed the college produce high-caliber drivers and employees.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a steady job growth in the bus driving industry, growing six percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Also, data shows that Texas has a demand for drivers, employing more than 12,000.

Hoping to become one of those bus drivers is Gloria Garza, currently the only woman in the course.

The 45-year-old already holds a Class A license to drive tractor trailers, but said it is time for her to slow down and stay closer to home.

“I’ve worked hard all my life, and sometimes not the easiest work,” she said. “So this is a career change for me. It’s something stable, with benefits and close to home.”

Ruiz worked several years in Washington and Minnesota as a migrant driving tractors and harvesting corn, strawberries and blueberries. And because she was a migrant, the Motivation Education and Training (MET) program, a non-profit corporation that provides rural communities in Texas with employment training and family services, is covering her tuition, supplies and exams.

“I’m currently receiving unemployment, and having to make it stretch,” said Garza. “So receiving this kind of help is invaluable. I know there are good things, better things, ahead for me because of this course and assistance.”

TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez said training students like Garza is what these types of partnerships and courses are all about.

“We’re continuously looking for ways to collaborate with organizations like Valley Metro to develop the workforce in the region,” said Hernandez. “So when they (Valley Metro) approached us about this partnership and helping them fill a bus driver shortage, we were on board.”

Hernandez said this is not the first time they host a bus driver training. Several years back TSTC worked in partnership with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council and local transportation entities to get drivers trained and employed.

“We’ve seen great success with this type of training and we’re confident we’ll see success again,” she said. “This is what TSTC is created to do: provide our regional and state workforce and industry stakeholders with the trained workforce they need to help fill the skills gap.”

TSTC’s Professional Bus Driving Training will be hosted monthly.

Those that complete the course and pass all exams will earn a Class B license through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and can work as drivers for transit systems such as Valley Metro, Metro McAllen, Brownsville Metro and Greyhound Lines.

For more information on, or to apply for the Professional Bus Driver Training, and to learn more about the other services offered by TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education call 956-364-4503 or visit tstc.edu/workforce/ce.

TSTC to host its first Industry Job Fair

In line with its of mission of placing more Texans in high-paying jobs,

Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County will be hosting its first Industry Job Fair for TSTC students and alumni.

The job fair will be hosted at the TSTC campus located at 26706 Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg with more than 40 companies signed up to  accept resumes and conduct on-site interviews. 

“The growth we have seen on this campus is exponential,” said TSTC Talent Management and Career Services coordinator Judy Cox. “And because of the highly-skilled students we’re producing and sending out into the workforce, we’re becoming more popular among local industries.”

Industry Job Fairs are an annual event hosted across TSTC’s 10 campuses statewide.

“Many of the industry reps who will be attending this event have hired TSTC students in the past or are interested in hiring,” said Cox. “One of the major reasons for hosting this job fair comes from request of these companies.”

TSTC students and alumni can expect to see companies such as Atec, Inc., a product and service manufacturer for aerospace and energy; Burns & McDonnell, a construction and engineering company; Coonrod Electric, an electrical construction services company; Crown Lift Trucks; HEB; Travel Centers of America-Petro; among others.

“TSTC is the technical education leader in Texas and companies know this,” said Cox. “And as industry continues to boom in our area and across the state, opportunities for our students grow.”

Cox added that programs at TSTC can be completed within two years or less, which in turn can save the student money and get them out into the workforce quicker.

This also allows TSTC to meet the increasing industry demand for more middle-skilled workers, which in most cases requires an education beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

TSTC students and alumni are encouraged to attend the job fair and arrive dressed to impress and with updated resumes in hand.

If a student or alumni needs assistance preparing for the job fair, the college’s Talent Management and Career Services office offers resume writing assistance and interview coaching.   

Among these services, which are offered throughout the year, TSTC also offers job search assistance and for employers and industry partners, Employer Spotlights.

Employer Spotlights include on-campus recruiting visits used by employers to meet and speak to TSTC students and graduates about job opportunities.

“Our goal is to get our students hired before they graduate and this job fair is another tool in our arsenal that gives our students in the Fort Bend County area an advantage,” said Cox. “This will open up a world of opportunities for our students and industry partners.”

For more information on the Industry Job Fair or the services offered to students, alumni and employers, call Talent Management and Career Services at 346-239-3429.

TSTC nursing alum finds career success with two-year degree

For Amber Vega, every day brings new challenges as a registered nurse at the emergency room in Harlingen Medical Center.

But as an alumnus from three TSTC nursing programs, the 25-year-old said she is more than ready to handle what comes her way.

“I’ve seen everything: birth to death, and everything in between,” said Vega. “But I’ve never had a doubt that nursing is where I’m supposed to be.”

The Harlingen native followed in the footsteps of her mother, brother and many other family members who have pursued a career in the medical field.

“My mom and brother are nurse practitioners and many others are nurses,” she said. “Nursing is definitely in my blood.”

Vega graduated from the Nursing Assistant program in 2012 when it was still offered at TSTC, and also from the college’s Vocational Nursing and Registered Nursing programs in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

She had a number of nursing schools she could have chosen, but Vega decided on TSTC because of its proximity to home, affordability, length of program and class size.

“TSTC was a perfect fit for me,” she said. “I had plenty of one-on-one with instructors, a focus on hands-on training and patient care. I was well prepared and confident entering the workforce.”

When asked why a two-year degree over a four-year degree she said, “For me there was no difference. The degree wasn’t going to change the fact that I was going to be a registered nurse.  I had to take the same courses, same exams and do the same clinical rotations. Plus, I got to start working a lot faster.”

She added that pursuing a two-year degree also saved her and her family money, leaving them debt free.

TSTC’s registered nursing program takes approximately 20 months, or two years to complete and costs around $12,300.

According to the Nurse Journal, a worldwide social community for nurses, on average a bachelor of science in nursing takes nearly four years to complete and can cost on average anywhere between $40,000 to $65,000.

“It’s great not owing any money and saving what I’m earning to make a better life for myself,” she said.

Vega said nursing has changed her perspective on life, decision making and leadership; and it all started when she began her clinical rotations at Harlingen Medical Center.

It was also here where her skills were recognized and she immediately hired after passing her National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

“My goal as a nurse is to always give my best to my patients,” she said. “Patient care is number one, especially during this difficult time in their lives. I’m here to provide the best quality care whether it’s mental, physical, emotional or spiritually. With me my patients are never alone.”

She also said she is happy and relieved that TSTC has helped her find success in such a short period of time.

“I’m only 25, and most people my age are still looking for their place in this world,” said Vega. “But I found mine and TSTC helped me get there.”

Vega said she does hope to follow in her brother’s and mother’s footsteps and eventually become a nurse practitioner.

Nursing is also offered at TSTC’s Breckenridge and Sweetwater campuses.

For more information on the vocational nurse to registered nursing transition program at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/program/nursing or call 956-364-4983.

Information sessions are now being held twice a month through August 2019.  

Student Success Profile – David Pena

David Peña is an Engineering major at Texas State Technical College. He expects to graduate this semester with an associate degree.

The 22-year-old, who also works as a work-study employee as a mentor with the TSTC Office of Student Success, said he is excited about his future and happy that he’s been able to grow and maintain a 3.8 grade-point average.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I plan on pursuing a career in engineering and eventually getting a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

What’s your dream job?

My uncle is a senior foreman for an engineering team in Hawaii, and I hope to follow in his footsteps.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment at TSTC has been maintaining my GPA. I was never an A student in high school, so I never expected to do this good in college, but TSTC has shown me that it’s possible.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned is about resiliency. Before enrolling at TSTC my plan was to enlist in the Air Force, but due to a past surgery I was disqualified. It was a big disappointment for me to say the least, but because of resiliency I didn’t let the discouragement or struggles keep me down.

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

My mathematics instructor Scott Contois and engineering instructor Hermes Chirino have been my greatest influences. They are inspirational to their students, push us to pursue our passions and encourage our education.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

My advice for future TSTC students is to find a field and a career they are passionate about. Do more than just your basics at TSTC, complete an associate degree because there are programs that are going to bring so many opportunities to your lives.

Longview Companies Utilize TSTC Training

(MARSHALL) – Three Longview companies are utilizing Texas State Technical College for training employees in new technical skills.

Komatsu Mining Corp., Stemco and Westlake Chemical Corp. have scheduled training on-site and at TSTC’s Marshall campus in recent weeks.

“We are now approaching businesses to assist them in identifying training gaps and coming up with recommendations to close such gaps,” said Dirk D. Hughes, executive director of TSTC Workforce Training. “Then, and only then, will we talk to the company about how to fund the training through grants and/or cash.”

Thirteen employees at Stemco, which produces bearings, hubcaps, seals and other products for the heavy- and medium-duty trailer and truck industry, will take computer software classes at the end of March and a class in measurements and tools in April. The classes are conducted through a Texas Workforce Development grant.

“We looked at the company needs and worked with TSTC to see what courses they had available and would work best with our colleagues,” said Amanda Tarbet, a human resources business partner at Stemco.

About 140 Stemco employees have already completed five courses in leadership, manufacturing and other topics through TSTC in 2018 and 2019, Tarbet said. Tarbet credited Stemco’s plant manager William Leadaman as being instrumental in getting the training for employees.

“I think it is helping our colleagues to open their eyes on furthering their education as well,” Tarbet said. “We have a few colleagues that are actually registered with TSTC. We have a tuition reimbursement program.”

Four employees at Westlake Chemical recently took a three-day course in motor controls.

Eight Komatsu employees are taking two inventory management classes this month at the company.

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

TSTC Nursing Student Prepares for Three-peat at SkillsUSA

(SWEETWATER) – Winning is so nice, she did it twice. Now Kacee Merrifield wants it again, and so does one of her classmates.

Merrifield is a nursing student enrolled in the associate degree program at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. She has competed at SkillsUSA two years in a row, winning state both times and placing nationally.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry, but it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth at nationals. In 2018 she won first in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She will compete in Practical Nursing this year.

“I love that SkillsUSA offers a platform to meet other professionals. You meet so many people and make friends and get to travel. I really enjoyed what Skills has done for me,” Merrifield said.

Hoping to win his second first-place title is fellow nursing student Corbin Calsoncin. Calsoncin and Merrifield both graduated from TSTC in Breckenridge with a certificate of completion in Vocational Nursing in 2018. Calsoncin is also currently enrolled in the nursing program at TSTC in Sweetwater.

“I was nervous my first couple times I competed, but I feel better now and am more prepared,” Calsoncin said.

Calsoncin placed second at state in Medical Math in 2017, but placed first in Math in 2018 and went on to place ninth at nationals. Calsoncin will compete in Medical Math again this year.

Not only do Merrifield and Calsoncin compete in SkillsUSA at the collegiate level, but they also judge the high school level.

“Judging is a chance for them to give back and share their experiences with others,” Marchelle Taylor, TSTC nursing instructor and West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator, said. “Skills allows them to interact with other students and industry around the state and nation.”

Merrifield and Calsoncin will compete at the SkillsUSA 2019 Leadership and Skills Conference on April 12-14 at TSTC in Waco.

Both students encourage anyone interested in nursing to visit TSTC and take advantage of the opportunities available with SkillsUSA.

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

TSTC in Sweetwater nursing students Corbin Calsoncin, left, and Kacee Merrifield, right, prepare to compete at SkillsUSA in April. 

TSTC Alumnus Motivated by Career Choice in Austin

(WACO) – Jacob Johnson’s career is in the fast lane.

Johnson, 20, of Austin graduated in August from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cloud and Data Center Management. He is an associate systems engineer at Austin-based Accruent, a worldwide physical resources management and planning company.

“This is the start of a great career and life for me,” Johnson said. “Besides, I genuinely find my job fun. I leave work and I go home and study AWS (Amazon Web Services), which I also find super enjoyable. I would not be this motivated if I did not enjoy what I was doing.”

Johnson’s job involves using the company’s ticketing system to ensure that software websites and servers are functional.

“I also do a fair amount of troubleshooting of our websites when customers find issues that our support team cannot figure out,” he said.

Johnson said what he learned at TSTC has been beneficial to his job.

“The thing I am most knowledgeable about is cloud providers,” Johnson said. “What my work gives me is the ability to expand my knowledge greatly on the actual server side of technology. I just love learning more about it.”

Rus Teston, an instructor in TSTC’s Cloud and Data Center Management program, said he could see early on how eager Johnson was to learn.

“During the AWS Solutions Architect course, it was apparent to everyone when things aligned for Jacob and his torch of knowledge was lit,” Teston said. “Even after graduation while looking for employment, Jacob continued to pursue knowledge, and AWS certificate after certificate were quickly claimed as his own.”

Workers will be needed to fill an increase in information technology positions predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency has estimated more than 24,000 network and computer systems administrators and 10,500 more computer network architects will be needed by 2026.

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