Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Hosts Counselor Update

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus held its annual Counselor Update on Friday to kick off the new year.

“It just gives them a chance to see what is going on if they are new,” said Trey Pearson, TSTC’s North and Central Texas regional director for student recruitment. “For those returning, it’s keeping our relationship strong.”

More than 30 area school counselors learned about TSTC’s technical programs and new initiatives.

The counselors were told about TSTC’s Performance-Based Education initiative beginning this fall with the Cybersecurity and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology programs. Students in these programs can take course lessons at their own pace to create flexibility in their learning.

The counselors watched members of the first cohort of Bombardier’s Aviation Apprenticeship Training program work in their specially designed lab on the first floor of the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center. The cohort is the first of 250 people taking 180 days of training at TSTC and at the company to produce the Advanced Metallic Wing for the Global 7500 aircraft at the company’s Red Oak plant.

Megan Bloedel, a college advisor at McKinney North High School, said Friday’s event was the first time she had been to TSTC.

“I liked the different programs there were and partnering with different industries,” she said.

Bloedel said the technical program that piqued her interest was Diesel Equipment Technology, which teaches students about engine repair, hydraulics, steering and suspension systems and other topics.

Allison Knott, a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) coordinator at Cedar Hill High School, said she was interested in the need for HVAC technicians and the skills taught in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology and Industrial Systems programs.

“I’m always super impressed when I come to TSTC,” Knott said.

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TSTC’s Workforce Training to Offer Solar Energy Class

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training department will host a continuing education class on solar energy from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, in the South Building on the Marshall campus.

“We have a lot of people in East Texas that can make use of solar energy to power up remote areas on their property,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of Workforce Training in Marshall.

Using solar energy means low water usage, long-term price certainty and energy security, according to the Texas Solar Power Association’s Texas Solar Industry Overview released in March 2019. More than $4.5 billion has been invested in solar projects in Texas, according to the trade association.

“We are seeing solar growth in all parts of the state,” said Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association in Austin. “Our data point is that in the SWEPCO Texas service territory covering part of East Texas, installed solar capacity increased more than 20 percent in 2020, growing from 984 mW to 1,192 kW. East Texas has a good solar resource, and it makes sense that residents would look to take advantage of it.”

Hughes, a registered professional engineer, will teach the course. The cost is $75 and includes a combination of lecture and hands-on training. To register, contact TSTC’s Workforce Training department at 903-923-3442.

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TSTC Culinary Arts Instructors Prepare for International Contests

(WACO, Texas) – Two instructors in Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program enter 2020 preparing for international competitions.

Chef Michele Brown is a member of the Agricultural Culinary Team Manitoba taking part in the IKA/Culinary Olympics in February in Stuttgart, Germany. Brown will handle the team’s pastry arts.

Brown said she is at the point in her preparation to test how to style four different kinds of petit fours on plates. She will also spend time working on the detailed aspects of her desserts, including cocoa painting.

“It is about what makes more sense,” Brown said.

Once in Germany, the team will do final preparations at a kitchen they have arranged to use. 

“It is stress from the 13th of February to the 17th of February, then relax,” Brown said.

Chef Mark Schneider will compete at the Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) Food and Beverage 2020 in early April in Singapore. Schneider was selected to take part because of his membership in the Epicurean World Master Chefs Society.

Schneider started a stringent training schedule last week, with a combination of preparing ingredients and kitchen equipment along with cooking. He plans to use his competition dish twice for upcoming special events and most likely make minor changes up to the contest.

Schneider has also been doing research on Singapore’s cuisine. He will create a seafood dish for the competition, using local fish and some ingredients that are seasonally available.

“It’s a jump from doing anything in the U.S. or Europe,” he said.

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TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center Offers New Programs in 2020

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Challenger Learning Center in Waco is preparing to take you to Mars starting this spring.

The center will offer the new “Expedition Mars” mission, said Jeremy Hagman, the Challenger Learning Center’s coordinator. Groups can make reservations now for the mission, which will enable participants to learn five phases of living on Mars.

“The concept is the same,” said Nereida Balli, director of Pre-College Programs, which include the Challenger Learning Center. “There is mathematics and science involved, and STEM information and activities the students are needing to get.”

Pre-K to fourth-grade students can take part in “Pre-Supply,” the revamped Atomnaut Academy that is accepting bookings now, Hagman said. An Atomnaut Academy can accommodate up to 28 students alternating between five stations.

“The kids help pack up and plan the mission,” he said. “They adopt an astronaut of their own and prepare the mission. This is more mission-focused.”

Balli said the Atomnaut Academy will prepare students to see what they can expect in doing missions once they reach fifth grade.

The Challenger Learning Center will continue to offer the “Rendezvous With a Comet” mission for students.

The Challenger Learning Center served more than 300 students in the fall in Waco, Hagman said. More than 1,000 students visited the center in 2019.

“We are getting a lot of new business from the local schools,” he said. “It is about community-building. We are here to support their students.”

The Challenger Learning Center is the third of its kind in Texas and is affiliated with the not-for-profit Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Washington, D.C. TSTC’s Harlingen campus is also home to a Challenger Learning Center.

The center’s purpose is to bring the planets to life for students. Visitors attend a short mission briefing and then divide into groups to work in Mission Control and a working laboratory. Activities are focused on communication, critical thinking, leadership and science.

The Challenger Learning Center honors the astronauts who died Jan. 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed on the Challenger space shuttle launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The initiative was founded that year by the families of the seven astronauts tragically killed.

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Sweetwater Company Continues Financial Support for TSTC Veteran-Students

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – A Sweetwater company continues to provide scholarship dollars to military veterans studying at Texas State Technical College.

EMA Electromechanics, an international maker of equipment for the clean wind energy sector, has given $150,000 since 2015 for the Sweetwater Veterans’ Funds for College Education.

Company president Eduardo Montich recently presented TSTC with a $75,000 check, putting their total commitment for scholarships at $225,000.  

The scholarship funds have helped veterans complete their technical education at TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

“We are truly humbled by EMA’s generosity and desire to support veterans at TSTC’s West Texas campuses,” said Beth Wooten, chief executive officer of The TSTC Foundation. “Inspiring partnerships like this change lives. We are forever grateful to have the opportunity to work together on such a worthy cause.”

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC’s West Texas campuses, said the company is an exceptional industry partner that not only sees value in TSTC graduates, but also supports them through their EMA veteran scholarship. He said the fund allows veterans to achieve their educational dreams when otherwise their college education might not be an option.

“We are deeply appreciative of EMA’s continued support of veterans enrolled at TSTC’s West Texas campuses,” he said.

EMA Electromechanics was founded in 1952 in Argentina. The company’s VDH Series Vacuum Circuit Breaker was first sold in the United States in 2003. The company began its American operations in 2010 in Sweetwater.

“EMA believes if it weren’t for our veterans, their company would have been unable to locate, operate and flourish in our fine country,” said Gail Lawrence, TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief of staff to the chancellor. “Our partnership with EMA is incredibly important and serves to further our mission and commitment to supply a highly skilled workforce for Texas industries and this region.”

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TSTC Process Operations Program Graduates Sought by Companies

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Once equipment is installed at a chemical plant, personnel are needed to operate it.

Texas State Technical College’s Process Operations program in Marshall teaches industrial processes, troubleshooting, process instrumentation and other topics to students interested in pursuing jobs as chemical, gas plant, power plant or refinery operators.

“We have started to get Process Operations known by our Instrumentation Technology contacts that have gone back to their plants and gone to their operators and said we have the program at TSTC,” said Robert Lovelace, TSTC’s statewide department chair for the Instrumentation Technology and Process Operations programs.

Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview continues to hire interns and graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program, said Mike Tucker, a company learning services technologist. Since 2017, the global specialty materials company has hired more than 20 TSTC alumni.

TSTC is one of two colleges in Texas that have industry-validated Process Operations programs the company looks to for prospective employees.

“It is challenging to fill these positions, so we use our internship program as a three-month interview,” Tucker said. “The internship screening process is rigorous.”

Nick Scott, operations support manager at Pergan Marshall in Marshall, said the company has seen an increase in applicants for internships and full-time employment in the last year. But, he said it is becoming harder to find good candidates who understand the commitment to working at a facility that operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and can be part of a diverse group of employees. The company manufactures full-line organic peroxide for the processing and polymer production industries.

Scott said TSTC’s faculty and staff make it easy to find job candidates with an understanding of the basic principles of manufacturing.

“We often prefer hiring graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program because the students chose this path because they had an interest in manufacturing,” Scott said. “They committed to multiple semesters of coursework, they have a general understanding of the equipment used in manufacturing environments and they are aware of safety hazards that could be present in a plant environment.”

Brady A. Sedler, site human resources manager at Sherwin-Williams in Garland, said the company had a challenging time filling reactor operator jobs.

“But, with the relationship we’ve built with TSTC and the programs they offer, it’s been nice to see future talent come to Sherwin-Williams from TSTC,” Sedler said. “We look forward to the continued partnership.”

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Teacher Watches Former Student Graduate at TSTC

(WACO, Texas) – Alicia Hayes was not going to miss this night.

Hayes, a middle school English teacher in the Wortham Independent School District, once taught students in Teague. One of those students, Gerardo Calixtro, was in her fifth-grade mathematics and sixth-grade science classes in Teague.

Now, Calixtro can call himself a graduate of Texas State Technical College.

Hayes saw Calixtro, and four other students she taught in Teague, walk across the stage at TSTC’s Fall 2019 Commencement earlier this month in Waco. Calixtro received an Electrical Lineworker Technology certificate.

“You can tell it meant something to him,” Hayes said.

Calixtro and Hayes reconnected through social media earlier this year and swapped telephone numbers. Calixtro invited Hayes to the ceremony and found out the day before she was able to attend. He asked one of his brothers to save Hayes and her daughter seating tickets.

“Knowing she pushed me throughout the school years I was with her, it felt good knowing and seeing her there,” Calixtro said. “She played a big role in me and my brothers’ lives, asking us what we were doing after high school.”

The day after the Commencement ceremony, Haynes attended the family’s celebratory barbecue for Calixtro in Teague.

“To see the support he had with his family and how proud they were, it touches your heart because you know that kid is going to succeed,” she said.

Calixtro’s graduation means even more to him because he said at one point while in high school, he wanted to drop out. At that stage in his life, college was not an option he was excited about.

But, Calixtro graduated in 2017 from Teague High School. He told his brothers he was going to college, but they did not believe him.

“I knew I would do it,” he said.

Calixtro had his own challenges while at TSTC.

“There were times I wanted to quit college because of financial stuff and work,” he said. “I didn’t think I would be able to do it.”

Calixtro’s brothers, David and Carmelo, are also students at TSTC. Hayes said she plans to watch them graduate from TSTC.

“I want my students to understand I consider them my children from the moment I start teaching them,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t stop just because they move to the next grade level or graduate.”

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program Expands in Anticipation of New Learning Initiative

(HUTTO, Texas) – As Texas State Technical College’s students at the East Williamson County campus are enjoying their holiday break, workers are physically expanding the Cybersecurity program’s first-floor learning spaces at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Once completed in early 2020, the Cybersecurity program’s newly enlarged lab will be rearranged to accommodate TSTC’s Performance-Based Education (PBE) initiative set to launch in August.

Joshua Schier, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program, said he is thrilled about the work taking place.

“This will be even more hands-on focused, and it’s going to create a lot of room for our programs to grow,” Schier said. “Students can work at their own pace and get through the system faster.”

Schier said the new space means more one-on-one time to engage with students.

“Change is always interesting, and it is exciting for us because I think of where it is going to free us up,” he said.

Starting in the fall semester, TSTC’s Performance-Based Education will give students in the Cybersecurity and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology programs the opportunity to learn course material at their own pace. PBE also will increase student access to programs throughout the year and generate a secondary learning transcript showing the competencies that students have completed.

“Students will have the ability to accelerate through their courses and program,” said Kyle Smith, TSTC’s deputy chief academic officer. “Such acceleration will be rewarded by waiving certain portions of the tuition and fees.”

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TSTC Holds Fall 2019 Commencement

(RED, OAK, Texas) – More than 20 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

Several graduates already have jobs, while others are making plans for the future. 

Demarcus Evans and Donna Floyd both graduated with the Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization. 

“We decided teamwork makes the dream work,” Floyd said. “Why not help each other? We love each other, and we want each other to succeed.”

Floyd said she and Evans planned to celebrate their achievement with friends and relatives later Monday night.

The couple said they are awaiting word from a company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on when to start their new jobs. They plan next to work on bachelor’s degrees at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

Bronc Stewart of Red Oak graduated with a Diesel Equipment Technology certificate. He began TSTC shortly after serving five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“It feels really good,” he said about graduating. “I didn’t think I would go to college, much less graduate.”

Stewart will continue work as a technician at United Ag and Turf in Ennis.

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TSTC Holds Fall 2019 Commencement

(WACO, Texas) – More than 400 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 6, at the Waco Convention Center.

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Spencer Brown of Austin came to TSTC after working in automotive and construction jobs. He received the Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Power and Controls. 

“Hands down, this is the best decision I have made to date,” Brown said about coming to TSTC.

Brown said the classes he took were challenging and interesting. And, he feels ready for his next challenge starting his new career at Oncor in Dallas, where he will work in the company’s distribution side.

Arturo Linares of Waco received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting and Design – Architectural/Civil Specialization. 

Linares will start work Monday, Dec. 9, at Strand Systems Engineering Inc. in Dallas. The company specializes in architecture, civil engineering, design and surveying.

“It feels good,” he said. “I’m not too stressed out.”

He is following the degree up with the Electrical Construction certificate he received in 2016 at TSTC. He worked as an electrician and discovered he enjoyed design, which motivated him to return to TSTC.

Some graduates are making plans to job hunt.

Angela Putty of Waco received the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and certificates in Electrical Construction and Energy Efficiency Specialist. She said she will take a break during the holiday season to spend time with family and then look for work in early 2020. 

Putty said she was inspired to go to college after seeing energy efficiency equipment in action on a visit to see relatives in California. 

Putty credited Letha Novosad, a TSTC instructor in the Building Construction Technology program, for being an inspiration in her studies and future career.

“She has a strong personality,” Putty said. “I like seeing a woman in the construction field.”

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