Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC’s Workforce Training Office Partners to Offer Specialized Medical Coding and Billing Training

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s statewide Workforce Training office is offering an 11-hour online Telehealth and COVID-19 bundle aimed at providing guidance to people working in medical coding and billing.

Participants who register for the training can take the 10 sessions through the Practice Management Institute at their own pace, but there is a time limit to complete the work. Topics include billing, cybersecurity, telehealth reimbursement and COVID-19’s impact on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  The sessions have been created using federal public health guidelines.

The American Medical Association and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued this year new procedure codes to use for COVID-19 laboratory testing and billing for non-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory testing for the virus, according to the Texas Medical Association.

“Medical billing and coding is ever changing, so it is always important for us to keep up with the most current guidelines,” said Carra Benson, a TMA practice management associate. “I feel the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge reminder of that.”

The training is open to Texas residents, no matter their proximity to a TSTC campus. Participants need access to a computer and internet to take the courses. Those completing lessons will receive certification from PMI, and if they are registered with TSTC’s Workforce Training office, they can receive continuing education hours.

Medical facilities who have staff that can benefit from the lessons can contact TSTC’s Workforce Training office, which can apply for Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund money to cover the training cost.

“That is why a lot of businesses, organizations and vendors work with us because the (TWC) funds have to be filtered through a college,” said Cindy Brunett, a TSTC Workforce Training project manager.

To learn more about TWC funding and register for the training, go to tstc.edu/workforce/onlinelearningcovid-19.

TSTC Alumnus Strives for Excellence at Austin Company

(WACO, Texas) – Emory Sutton of Pflugerville took his appreciation for the environment and turned it into a satisfying career. 

Sutton is a safety and loss control specialist at Professional Contract Services Inc. in Austin. He began working at the nonprofit company in August 2018 during the same week he graduated from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus.

His work involves making sure clients are meeting environmental and safety regulations.

Sutton’s work involves traveling a week each month to visit contractors’ clients. On some days he completes reports after making site visits, while other days are spent working on gathering bids for contracts.

“Every day is different,” he said. “It’s how I can assist my department in succeeding.”

Sutton said his motivation lies in his desire to be good at what he does.

“I like the feeling of succeeding,” he said. “I think of little things as succeeding. I like to get things done, doing a good job for the company and proving that I can do it.”

Sutton grew up in Granger and is a graduate of Granger High School. He attended a four-year university to study education to become a teacher, but he said after three-and-a-half years, he concluded the field was not for him.

Sutton has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental Technology – Compliance and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology from TSTC. He said Lester Bowers, an instructor in TSTC’s Environmental Technology program, influenced him to pick up the second associate degree.

“He was a very good student and always added relevant materials into class discussions,” Bowers said.

Sutton said TSTC provided him with a solid education because of its emphasis on hands-on learning.

“I preach technical schools since I have been at TSTC,” he said. “We need people to fill technical jobs in the nation.”

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

More TSTC Programs to Expand Into Evenings This Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Registration continues for the summer and fall at TSTC. 

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

TSTC Foundation Receives Financial Contribution for Campus Food Pantry

(WACO, Texas) – The Episcopal Student Center made a $2,000 contribution on Wednesday, May 20, to The TSTC Foundation for use at Texas State Technical College’s student food pantry on the Waco campus.

The money will be used to replenish the food pantry’s stock, which has been depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s good to know something we can do will have an impact on the students’ lives,” said the Rev. Keith Pozzuto of the Episcopal Student Center.

Jerome Mendias, TSTC’s associate provost, said the contribution will enable Misty Kaska, a coordinator in TSTC’s Advocacy and Resource Center, to continue her important work with students. 

The food pantry is located at TSTC”s  Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center, with a temporary pickup site at the Student Services Center’s Welcome Center.

Kaska said she is grateful for the financial help. 

“There are not a lot of donations going on at this time,” she said.

Kaska said the most important items needed for the food pantry are canned soups, proteins, vegetables, and baby items such as diapers and wipes.

Pozzuto said he learned about the food pantry from TSTC students involved in the Episcopal Student Center’s Canterbury Club, which meets regularly in the Texas Room at TSTC”s  Student Services Center. He then reached out to Kaska to learn more about the project’s needs.

The Episcopal Student Center is on South 10th Street in Waco and is operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

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

TSTC Alumni Keep Longview Technologically Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gore said the work is rewarding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSTC Culinary Arts: Options Abound for Meat Substitutes

(WACO, Texas) – Consumers who find limits on purchasing their favorite meats at the grocery store can look for options to make meals satisfying.

Mark Schneider, Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts division director, said those who are interested in shifting from meat should not do so cold turkey. He advises cooks to create one or two meatless dishes, then increase the number of such meals as they become comfortable.

Schneider also advises consumers to read the labels on meatless products.

“Most vegetarians are very conscious of what they are doing and ingesting,” Schneider said.

David Ray, an instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Waco, said students learn in the first-semester Nutrition for the Food Service Professional class about amino acids, complete proteins and vitamins in food. Also in the first semester, students learn in the Sanitation and Safety class how to avoid contamination and be mindful of cooking for those with food and gluten allergies.

Ray said beans, nuts and rice can be combined in a variety of ways to give people essential amino acids and protein. He said soybeans and quinoa are also great sources of complete protein.

“Asian dishes and Indian dishes have beans and rice and a little of animal protein in them,” Ray said. “It’s not nearly as much as we eat. They stretch the protein way out.”

Eggplant and portobello mushrooms can be used to substitute for meat in recipes, Schneider said.

“Both of those are great,” he said. “You can definitely make a vegetarian burger that is natural. A lot of time, that will include portobellos and grains like barley and oats. You can grind everything together and make a decent burger.”

Schneider also said tempeh is a good alternative. Tempeh is made of compressed soybeans that are fermented and shaped into a block held together with mycelia, according to The Vegan Society. Tempeh is popular in Indonesian cuisine.

“I really like tempeh,” Schneider said. “I cut it up into bite-size pieces and use it as a stir-fry or as a filler for pasta. Instead of cooking it in the dish, cook it first, then add to the dish.”

Tofu is another go-to for cooks.

“It is great,” Schneider said. “It takes on the flavor of what you are cooking. I try to marinate it first. I use the firm, hard tofu that gives it a little more substance. You can even press that and get it a little firmer. You get a better chew, or bite.”

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

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Increases Marketability for Workforce

(WACO, Texas) – With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in hand, Kory Dyer of Bellville wanted to make himself more marketable.

“I went home and just wanted to weigh out what all my options were. During the internship (for the degree), I came to realize that engineers are expected, going into the field coming out of school, to be proficient in AutoCAD and all the major computer-aided drafting software,” he said.

Dyer decided to go back to college, this time traveling to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. Now he is a spring candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Mechanical-Electrical Drafting Technology.

Dyer will start a new job in mid-June at RODS Subsurface Utility Engineering Inc. in Spring in the Houston area.

“I am very excited about it,” he said. “It is a great company.”

While at TSTC, Dyer learned about computer-aided drafting, machine drafting, parametric design and modeling, and other topics.

“The instructors are very knowledgeable,” he said. “One thing I love about TSTC is they have real work experience. There are people that have been out in the industry for 20, 30 years and retired, and decided to come back and share their knowledge with the next generation of workers. That is a valuable asset that you cannot get just anywhere.”

Dyer spent more than a year as a campus tutor.

“Kory has tutored students in drafting and math, and he has contributed immensely to TSTC by providing instructional support to our students,” said Kassie Harrington, TSTC’s tutoring coordinator. “He is an individual who shows up earlier than asked, works hard, and is always willing to go above and beyond in his studies.”

Dyer said the job challenged him to figure out what worked to communicate with students to get them to understand their problem areas. He said these skills can transition into his future workplace.

“I applied for the tutoring job because I needed a job,” he said. “I wanted to try to get a job on campus because I know, from working in my undergraduate career, it is so much easier when you have a job on campus. They are willing to work around your schedule. They understand studying comes first.”

Dyer’s motivation comes from proving to his high school classmates that he could succeed in college and provide for his future family.

“I want to be able to prove that I can succeed in life,” he said.

Dyer is a graduate of Bellville High School and Texas A&M University Kingsville.

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

TSTC Candidate for Graduation: Change Circumstances to Meet Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Lands IT Job in Dallas

(RED OAK, Texas) – Daryl Golden of Waxahachie worked in sales for a decade and decided he wanted to take a different direction in his career. And, the direction he took led to Texas State Technical College.

“I get anxious that I’m not accomplishing anything if I don’t have a progression path set up,” he said. “I’ve got to be working toward something, or I feel like I have plateaued.”

Not only is Golden a spring candidate for graduation at TSTC’s North Texas campus, but he has also landed a job in an information technology position at GDT in Dallas.  

He is scheduled to complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity later this month at TSTC. 

“These degree plans are very similar — just five additional courses — and you really can’t have security without networking,” he said. “So, I encourage anyone on the same degree plan to be a dual major as well.”

Some of Golden’s favorite courses focused on auditing, firewalls and network and security assessment.

“I had the privilege of teaching quite a few of Daryl’s classes,” said Joel Bryant, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program. “Daryl can be described as every instructor’s dream student. He’s inquisitive, highly motivated and determined to get the job done, whether it’s in a lab, homework assignments or his internships. He is persistent, helpful and a positive force in the classroom.”

Golden already knows how he will celebrate the completion of his classes.

“I plan to cook out as much as possible and play some games with all this free time I’ve suddenly gotten back,” he said. “After that, I’m going to chase as many certifications as possible. I need to keep working on my resume.”

Golden is excited to be working at GDT, a company that designs, builds, delivers and manages IT solutions and services for customers of all sizes and from a variety of industries. 

“They understood that I was a full-time student for just one more semester when they hired me and allowed me to work early on days I had class,” he said. “I could not be happier with this company and how they have treated me so far.”

Golden said his advice for future students is not to procrastinate and to pay attention to everything.

“Stay in as many loops as you can,” he said. “Through understanding what is being done around or even above you, it can become easier to learn more and punch above the weight of your position. Staying as looped in as you can means that you can solve and own problems that weren’t originally intended to be yours.”

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

TSTC Electrical Lineworker, Welding Programs Preparing for Growth

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker Technology and Welding Technology programs at the Fort Bend County campus are expanding.

“Those have been two of the hottest trades in the region for several years,” said Jeremy Heath, executive director of the Rosenberg Economic Development Corp. “Everyone who goes through either program has a job in hand upon graduation or very quickly after. And these jobs pay well, so the city gets an immediate return on its investment in TSTC, because those paychecks get spent at our local businesses.”

The Electrical Lineworker Technology program’s building will be expanded, said Randall Wooten, TSTC provost. The Welding Technology program in the Industrial Technology Center will double the number of welding booths. Both programs anticipate accommodating more students when the fall semester begins.

“We are open in our fourth year (here) and are ratcheting up with the projects,” Wooten said. “We can see that in a year or so we will need more room or turn students away.”

The Electrical Lineworker Technology program will get additional classroom and storage space, along with more poles for students to practice their skills. Wooten said the program will grow to accommodate 90 students. Students will also have the opportunity to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) while in the program. The program has two trucks that will be shared with TSTCorkforce Training.

“The employers want the CDL because there are big pieces of equipment with trailers that need to be towed,” Wooten said. “In order for them to get the jobs and get in the front of the line, if they have a CDL, that helps them a whole lot.”

Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Electrical Lineworker Technology department, said linemen are needed. Recent TSTC graduates in Fort Bend County have been hired by CenterPoint Energy and North Houston Pole Line.

“All of them in that area are making excellent money,” Carithers said. “We are trying to accommodate the growth of the enrollment and the demand in the area.”

The number of electrical line installers and repairers is projected to increase nationally to 128,900 by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology and an Electrical Lineworker certificate.

The Welding Technology program is expanding into an open storage area being fitted with 80 more welding booths. Wooten said the program will have the capacity to accommodate 240 students after the expansion.

“Houston is a large area and highly populated,” said Ashley Yezak, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Welding Technology department. “I know we are making a smart move in order to offer more availability so we can run more sections and serve more Texans.”

Yezak said the expanded space will give flexibility in offering a mix of day and night classes as necessary. 

The need for brazers, cutters, solderers and welders nationwide is projected to grow to more than 439,000 up to 2028 due to the nation’s aging infrastructure and the construction of new power generation facilities, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology and certificates in Structural Welding and Structural and Pipe Welding.

TSTC is an important tool that the Rosenberg Economic Development Corp. uses in its recruiting efforts. Heath said the city is seeing rapid residential and commercial growth.

“A skilled labor force is the number one most important factor in recruiting new businesses to our city,” he said. “The price of dirt, reasonable tax rates and financial incentive packages help seal the deal. But every prospect I have spoken to in almost six years of business recruitment asks the same question first: Do you have a strong enough workforce to accommodate my needs?”

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