Author Archives: Daniel Perry

Red Oak ISD Tours TSTC Campus in Waco

(RED OAK, Texas) – Representatives of the Red Oak Independent School District traveled to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus on Thursday to see its technical programs firsthand and talk about future collaboration with TSTC. 

Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost at the North Texas campus in Red Oak, led the school district’s delegation. He said the visit was a way for staff from the school district and TSTC to learn more about each other’s missions. TSTC’s North Texas campus is located next to Red Oak High School and shares its parking lot.

“I think it went really well,” Balch said. “I hope we can find more ways to connect and be more strategic.”

Some of the technical programs the group visited include Aviation Maintenance, Culinary Arts, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Instrumentation and Welding Technology.

“I like the amount of different programs that are available and the first-rate equipment the students have to work with,” said Red Oak High School Principal Miller Beaird.

Beaird said he enjoyed seeing TSTC’s commitment to showing students’ ways to be successful and employable in the workplace. He said some of what he heard could benefit future graduates of Red Oak High School, citing that up to 40 percent of the school’s graduates do not immediately find employment or enroll in college after they graduate. 

“TSTC could help decrease that number,” Beaird said.

Lisa Menton, the Red Oak school district’s career and technical education director, said about 100 Red Oak High School students will be taking dual enrollment classes starting this fall at TSTC. She said this is a number that can grow as students and faculty learn more about TSTC’s offerings at other campuses.

Menton said some of the technical programs she liked were Building Construction Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

“I gained a lot of good knowledge I can pass on to the teachers,” she said.

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

TSTC Students Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Homes

(WACO, Texas) – Some Texas State Technical College students are learning how consumers can save money for their residences by making them more energy-efficient. 

Students in the Residential Building Performance Consulting class used a vacant home on campus on Monday to perform a series of tests to find out where outside air leaked in, and vice versa. 

“I want students to learn the actual mechanics of how to set up and perform the tests and how to correct the seals we have,” said Hugh Whitted, an instructor in TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist and Solar Energy Technology programs.

Before testing started, students found every interior opening they could to seal with plastic. Whitted led students through the first test by using a blower to measure how airtight the house was.

“It depressurizes the house so air comes through the cracks and you can seal them,” he said.

Students used a variety of tools, including smoke pencils and thermal cameras, to conduct the tests.

“It’s a good eye-opener to the kind of equipment we will use in the field,” said Christian Bolyard, a TSTC student from Bridge City.

Whitted said students found problems with air leaking through electrical outlets.

Johnathan Rhodes, a TSTC student from Plano, said air leaks can be challenging in older homes.

“Older houses can be terribly constructed because this (the energy code industry) is relatively new,” he said. “It’s important to pay attention to detail and construction.”

Students also performed a duct-blaster test and did a carbon monoxide reading on the home.

“I’m learning some of these buildings are air-challenged and that we may come across things that are not in new buildings that we have to work with,” Bolyard said.

Homes that are insulated well can receive good scores on the Home Energy Score Report from the U.S. Department of Energy. On a scale of 1-10, scores on the higher end mean there is lower energy usage and cost.

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is a two-semester program in Waco preparing students for jobs in energy auditing and green marketing. Whitted teaches students to use the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code, which is designed to meet the need for efficient mechanical, lighting and power systems through model code regulations that result in optimal utilization of fossil fuel and nondepletable resources. 

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is part of a “triple crown” combination, which includes the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and the Certificate I in Electrical Construction.

Bolyard and Rhodes are both taking the combined certificate and degree programs.

“It’s been fantastic,” Rhodes said. “I love the hands-on learning, and the instructors tell us stories about what they have experienced in the field.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. 

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

TSTC Hosts Future Fair For Residents

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College showed East Texas residents on Saturday why their future can be brighter with a technical education.

The first TSTC Future Fair in Marshall highlighted 11 technical programs on campus, many of which serve industries in need of qualified workers.

Visitors of all ages did hands-on demonstrations, such as the virtual welder, toured labs and ate at food trucks parked next to the South Building on campus.

“We have had visitors as young as middle school,” said Patty Lopez, TSTC’s regional director for dual enrollment. “In eighth grade, students have to choose a career path. Hopefully this can lead to dual enrollment classes and then coming here.”

Michael Calhoun, a senior at Harleton High School, made his first visit to TSTC.

“My guidance counselor told me to look into this college because I am interested in information technology,” he said.

Calhoun said he looked forward to graduating from high school and starting college.

“It will be a lot of fun and a change,” he said. “I felt really welcomed today, especially by the people giving the campus tours.”

Alex Hernandez, a senior at Jacksonville High School, drove with a friend more than an hour to Marshall to attend the event. He said he enjoyed talking to faculty and staff members learning about TSTC.

Hernandez said he is interested in studying Process Operations, which combines electronics, engineering, instrumentation and troubleshooting for the chemical, gas, petroleum and other industries.

Industry was also represented at the event to show the more than 50 people who attended what career possibilities are in the region.

Joe Razza, a regional recruiter at Crown Lift Trucks in Arlington, said students going to college to prepare for the workforce can have an impact on their families.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the trade industry and that ties into the mission of TSTC,” said Razza. “You need to get your hands on it and experience it before you make a career of it.”

Fidelity Communications Co. in Marshall provided a $1,000 scholarship that was drawn early Saturday afternoon for a student planning to attend TSTC this fall.

TSTC worked with the Marshall Independent School District and the Marshall Economic Development Corp. to put on the event.

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

TSTC, TWC, STEMCO Celebrate Skills Development Fund Grant

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission and Longview-based STEMCO gathered Thursday in Marshall to commemorate a $166,657 Skills Development Fund grant aimed at improving workers’ skills.

More than 100 STEMCO employees have taken over 900 hours of technical and nontechnical training in collaborative team building, decision-making, electrical safety, Excel, Google Suite and other topics. 

“TSTC makes a positive difference in the lives of our working citizens by helping them earn more in their careers through their increased knowledge and skills,” said Kelly Kinsley Overby, the Longview Economic Development Corporation’s business retention and expansion director. “Training grants from the TWC such as the Skills Development Fund help provide this needed training and foster economic growth and prosperity in East Texas.”

This was the first time the company utilized TSTC for workforce training. The work started last summer and ended in May.

“I think we have built very good relations with STEMCO,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of workforce training in Marshall. “As soon as we get another grant, we need to continue doing this type of training.”

William Leadaman, STEMCO’s manager in Longview, said staff from the company’s human resources office and TSTC had discussions about specialized training for employees.

“Our company is really focused on the dual bottom line, so not only is it the growth and sustainability of the business, but also the growth of the colleagues and their technical base,” Leadaman said.

The Skills Development Fund has been used since 1996 to localize workforce training for Texas companies. This enables companies to work directly with local partners to develop training tailored to employers’ needs. The Skills Development Fund grant has assisted more than 4,200 employers statewide, according to the TWC.

“Our labor force continues to be among the most sought-after in the world, thanks to the state’s commitment to implement strategies to improve the skills of Texas workers,” said Julian Alvarez III, the TWC’s commissioner representing labor.

STEMCO supplies brake, suspension and wheel-end components for the commercial vehicle  industry.

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

TSTC Wins Six Medals at National SkillsUSA Conference

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College won one gold medal, four silver medals and one bronze medal at the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching employability, leadership and technical skills helping middle school, high school and college students pursue successful careers and build a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories of competition ranging from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.

“The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference is more than just a competition, though it is certainly the pinnacle of collegiate technical skills contests,” said Adam Hutchison, provost of TSTC’s Waco campus. “It’s really a national celebration of technical education and the quality of life that our students can achieve when their craftsmanship is combined with leadership and teamwork skills.”

Erik Syck, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major, won a coveted gold medal in Information Technology Services.

“It’s a massive release and excitement,” Syck said. “Last year I didn’t place at all. In a year, I made that much of a difference and it’s amazing.”

The team of Brandon Lund and Cody White won the silver medal in Additive Manufacturing. This was the first TSTC team to ever compete in the event.

Lund and White, both Architectural Drafting and Design Technology majors, were put together by their instructor, Bryan Clark, because of their interests in 3D printing and machining.

“We were really close to getting gold,” said White. “Brandon is good to work with and knows what he is doing. This is going to help with job hunting.”

Recent TSTC graduate Cody Scheffe won a silver medal in Carpentry. This is the second year he competed in the event. SkillsUSA allows participants to represent their campuses up to six months after graduation.

“I’m excited,” Scheffe said. “Second in the nation is still good. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot from the instructors I have had.”

Jondaria Maxey, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major, won the silver medal in the Job Skill Demonstration Open contest. The skill he demonstrated was replacing hardware on a computer.

“I wasn’t prepared last year,” said Maxey. “This year, I was more prepared and did a lot of practice. SkillsUSA has helped me be a leader.”

TSTC won the silver medal in TeamWorks for the second year in a row. Recent TSTC graduate Andres Zapata competed on both silver medal teams while students Jacob Dawson, Antonio Hernandez and Leonardo Mata took part for the first time on the college level.

“They are good guys and they do what needs to be done,” Hernandez said. “We just have to build upon what we started here and start working at it. We just have to make our work like a fine-tuned machine.”

Rickie Hartfield won the bronze medal in Residential Systems Installation and Maintenance. For the contest, he demonstrated his ability to install multiple electrical components to work with thermostats and household appliances.

Also at the national conference, TSTC’s Harlingen campus received a silver medal in Community Service and the Marshall campus received a gold medal in Technical Computer Applications.

TSTC’s competitors qualified for the national conference by winning the SkillsUSA Texas State Leadership and Skills Conference in April in Waco.

More than 6,400 students from Alaska to Puerto Rico competed at the conference, with more than 1,100 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded. In-kind industry and education contributions in equipment, materials and time totaled more than $36 million for the event, according to SkillsUSA.

“I’m thrilled that our students get to experience the SkillsUSA NLSC with the other elite technical education students from around the country and be recognized for their outstanding talents,” Hutchison said. “And, I’m grateful for our dedicated faculty and staff who mentor, train and support our students all year long to reach this event.”

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

TSTC Wins First Medal at National SkillsUSA Conference

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College won its first-ever medal at the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching employability, leadership and technical skills helping middle school, high school and college students pursue successful careers and build a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 competitive events ranging from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.

Mikayla Walden, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major from Broaddus, won the gold medal in Technical Computer Applications.

“I honestly didn’t expect it,” Walden said. “It took about 10 seconds to realize I was getting gold. I have a feeling of accomplishment.”

Amy Hertel, a TSTC Cyber Security instructor who traveled with the Marshall delegation, said Walden never lost faith in her skills.

“The competition was tough and had many elements over a two-day span,” Hertel said. “It was a test of endurance as well as technical ability.”

TSTC’s Marshall campus also had students compete in CNC Turning, Customer Service, Cyber Security and Industrial Motor Control.

“We are incredibly proud of Mikayla, as well as each of her teammates who represented TSTC and East Texas in such fine fashion,” said Barton Day, provost of TSTC’s Marshall campus. “These competitions are a great experience for our students and a terrific showcase of the skills provided by a top-notch technical education.”

Also at the national conference, TSTC’s students from the Harlingen campus received a silver medal and students from the Waco campus received one gold medal, four silver medals and a bronze medal.

TSTC’s competitors qualified for the national conference by winning the SkillsUSA Texas State Leadership and Skills Conference held in Waco last April.

More than 6,400 students from Alaska to Puerto Rico competed at the national conference, with more than 1,100 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded. In-kind industry and education contributions in equipment, materials and time totaled more than $36 million for the event, according to SkillsUSA.

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

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

TSTC Cyber Security Reinforces Importance of Protection in Health Care Industry

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Just like illnesses invade the body, so can viruses of a more technical kind invade digital devices.

The health care industry is entrusted with sensitive patient information, and Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security program trains technicians to diagnose vulnerabilities and protect data from intrusion in digital systems such as those maintained by hospitals and medical offices.

Some of the biggest security problems plaguing health care include phishing emails, human error, and the compromise of digital devices by third-party vendors, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2019 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey.

Less than half of the problems were discovered by internal security teams, according to the survey.

“Cybersecurity is essential for any business that has government regulations policing it,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in the Cyber Security program at TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Health care is a great example of that due to thorough and complex HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) regulations aimed at protecting patient privacy, whether it be a family practice or a whole system of hospitals.”

Texas has more than 24,800 cybersecurity jobs currently open, according to Cyberseek.org. More than 60,000 people are employed statewide in the cybersecurity field.

Hertel said cybersecurity internships can be difficult to get in the health care industry because of the patient data being stored. But, graduates can be hired as entry-level analysts to build trust in their workplaces.

“Rural health care facilities have a great opportunity to hire TSTC graduates who have first-class cybersecurity knowledge but prefer to stay in the local community instead of moving to a large city,” Hertel said.

David Dowdle, network administrator for HealthCARE Express in Texarkana, which has locations in Longview and Marshall, said geography factors into finding qualified people to fill jobs. He said finding good mentors can help students build on their interest in cybersecurity.

Malicious new viruses — like ransomware, a type of software that denies access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid — are a constant threat.

“I think one of the biggest responsibilities any information technology professional has is to stay on top of the industry news,” Dowdle said. “Ransomware, for example, was not heard of by your average professional a few years ago. By 2015, it was on everyone’s minds. People who were not staying on top of the news were blindsided by ransomware.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security in Marshall and at several other locations throughout the state. A certificate option is available.

“We teach students to plan and implement the policies and procedures that keep health care organizations HIPAA-compliant,” Hertel said. “This includes network setup and security, intrusion detection and prevention, and end-user protection and training.”

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

TSTC HVAC Students Encourage Preventive Maintenance on Air Conditioning Units

(WACO, Texas) – Though the 2019 calendar says the first day of summer is June 21, Texas residents know that hot days and the comfort of air conditioning started much earlier.

On Thursday, June 20, students in Texas State Technical College’s Air Conditioning Troubleshooting class were simulating cold and hot situations on air conditioning systems.

“We are working with high-voltage, spinning unit fans, compressors,” said Derrick Gonzales of Waco, an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Technology major. “We are working with very high pressures and coolant.”

The students, who aspire to be future HVAC technicians, may have a lot of work to do in the future.

The United States, Japan and China are the world’s top users of air conditioning, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2018 study, “The Future of Cooling.” The number of air conditioning units is projected to rise worldwide to more than 5.6 billion by 2050, according to the study.

“With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a prepared statement given at the time of the study. “While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized.”

Gonzales said people should check and replace air filters and replace batteries in indoor thermostats. And, they should watch the direction grass is cut around outdoor units to minimize clogging.

HVAC Technology major Otniel Luviano of Buffalo, Texas, said bad air flow can increase pressure blowouts, especially in older units.

Tim Snyder, an instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said the ideal time to test air conditioning units is between spells of cold and warm weather.

“Most people have companies they call to come and do preventive maintenance,” he said.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation regulates air conditioning and refrigeration contractors who install, repair and maintain systems.

“The best thing for customers is to investigate their contractor,” Luviano said. “If you want to be a good technician, you have to go forward and learn the right way.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and an HVAC technician certificate.

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

 

TSTC Alumnus Invents Portable Workstation

(WACO, Texas) – Bobby Martin’s work as an oil field service controls technician was the inspiration for a magnetic portable workstation he invented.

Martin, a 1990 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College), received a patent in September 2018 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for The OmniShelf.

Martin’s invention, which measures about 17 by 15 by 3 inches when closed, uses industrial-strength magnets or suction cups to adhere to many metal or smooth vertical surfaces, leaving the user’s hands free. Once securely in place, The OmniShelf can support up to 30 pounds.

“I work all over the (oil) rig and needed something that was portable, and I thought I could make one that was magnetic. And, that is how it came about,” Martin said. “It took about three years to get it finished, going from the first prototype to what it is now.”

Some of the components Martin considered in the development process were the texture, strength of the plastic and how to make it work with hinges.

“We have some tweaks that are going to be made, but right now we have been selling it a little over a year,” Martin said. “It is just taking off on its own.”

Injection molding for the product is done in Kennedale, and assembly, packaging and storage is done in McGregor.

“When he decided to do this, I was behind him 100 percent,” said Martin’s wife, Mindy. “I’m very impressed with him finding the right people he found on his own as far as the molding company, the people in McGregor.”

Martin graduated in 1988 from China Spring High School.

“I didn’t even take a summer break,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when I decided I wanted to get into computers.”

Martin received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Maintenance Technology in 1990. After graduation, he worked in missile systems testing, troubleshooting and computer chip equipment maintenance at Texas Instruments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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

 

Three TSTC Building Construction Technology Scholarships Awarded

(WACO, Texas) – Two future Texas State Technical College students and one current TSTC student were recently awarded Building Construction Technology scholarships.

Recent Belton High School graduates Jose Delgado and Isaac Collazo Garcia each received $6,000 SkillsUSA scholarships to attend TSTC. Both students plan to major in Building Construction Technology this fall.

Delgado said he was inspired to go to college by Craig Sullivan, his high school construction technology teacher, and his involvement in SkillsUSA, which is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

Delgado said he wants to learn everything he can while at TSTC.

Collazo Garcia said the college’s state and national reputation impressed him. Several Belton alumni have gone on to graduate from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.

“I’m excited to learn new things and have new opportunities coming here,” he said.

The Building Construction Technology program also awarded a $200 Brazos Valley Woodturners scholarship to Amber Voss of Axtell. She is pursuing certificates in Energy Efficiency Specialist and Electrical Construction, along with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology.

“It (the scholarship) will definitely help because I quit my full-time job to go to school,” Voss said. “My husband is the main provider while I live out my dream.”

Chris Porter, lead instructor  in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, said the Brazos Valley Woodturners meet monthly on campus.

“Once a year they give money for scholarships,” Porter said. “It’s great because it helps the students out tremendously.”

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

For more information on Brazos Valley Woodturners, go to bvwt.org.

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