Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Alumni Keeping People Healthy in Corsicana

(WACO, Texas) – The technical well-being of patients at Navarro Regional Hospital is in Travis Recksiek’s hands.

Recksiek, a biomedical technician, is responsible for about 1,500 pieces of medical equipment at the hospital and four clinics in Corsicana. He usually starts his workday at 6 a.m., almost an hour ahead of when operating room doctors and nurses begin their work. He can be finished with his day by 2:30 p.m. unless there are repair emergencies.

Recksiek grew up in Waxahachie and learned about biomedical equipment technology from his stepmother, who worked at an area hospital. He graduated in 2010 from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology.

Mark Plough, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Biomedical and Medical Imaging Technology, foresees an increasing need for qualified technicians in Corsicana’s health care industry. 

“Corsicana is a growing area. And as the hospital expands, so will the opportunities for health care technology management technicians,” Plough said. “Navarro Regional Hospital will have one of our students interning this semester. They have been very supportive of our program.”

Texas had more than 3,500 medical equipment repairers as of 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs for those technicians are projected to increase nationally to 55,800 by 2028, according to the agency.

But finding enough qualified workers to fill those jobs could be a problem. 

“The health care technology management field is losing experienced technicians as the baby boomers retire,” Plough said. “This is a double-sided sword. The aging population will put more burden on the medical facilities, and there will be fewer people to repair, calibrate and perform preventive maintenance. This is a concern for all of the technical fields.”

Recksiek’s supervisor, Chad Sanders, is also a graduate of TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program. Sanders is the hospital’s director of plant operations and its safety officer. His job includes ensuring the facility abides by guidelines from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission.

Before Recksiek’s arrival, Sanders was the hospital’s biomedical technician.

“I was ready to move up, but I enjoyed my work as a technician,” Sanders said.

Sanders said biomedical technicians need to have good communication skills, learn hospital protocol, know about privacy concerns, be good at scheduling, and have familiarity with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.

“Working in the nonclinical side of health care has its perks,” Sanders said. “We have more time to get the job done.”

Sanders, who grew up in Hillsboro, previously worked in manufacturing before attending TSTC and also did a program internship before pursuing the health care field.

“The internship is vital for any medical equipment repair program,” Plough said. “The internship allows the students to put into practice the knowledge they have gained through their formal education. The real-time experience helps the students connect the dots between theory and reality.”

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TSTC’s Workforce Training Office Offers New Mobile Welding Training Lab

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training office wants to bring welding to you.

The office recently finished creating a mobile welding training lab inside a 42-foot enclosed gooseneck trailer. The training lab features four welding bays, one being wheelchair accessible, along with multipurpose welding machines, a fume extraction system and a hydraulic wheelchair ramp.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Courtney Cox, a TSTC Workforce Training project manager. “It adds a new tool in our toolbox.”

Workforce Training staff expect the mobile lab to be taken to high schools, trade shows and companies making requests for on-site certifications. The welding certifications that can be done in the mobile lab range from 1F, a flat weld done using a fillet joint, to 6G, which is an all-position pipe welding plus all-position structural welding.

“Being a certified welder opens doors for you,” said Jon Autenrieth, a TSTC Workforce Training instructor.

Autenrieth said staff are working to get the mobile trailer certified by the American Welding Society to be a mobile test facility. He said staff also want to get workforce training certification from the Texas Veterans Commission.

Jay Hernandez, executive director of TSTC’s Workforce Training office, said the mobile lab idea came about in discussions with staff from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service regarding the availability of welding training opportunities.

For more information about Workforce Training at Texas State Technical College, call 254-867-4844 or go to

TSTC Hosts Students for FFA Tractor Competition

(WACO, Texas) –  Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program hosted on Thursday the Texas FFA Association Tractor Technician Career Development Event, which featured 12 high schools from North and Central Texas.

In the Texas FFA Association’s Area 5, Sam Rayburn High School placed first, Wolfe City High School placed second and Campbell High School placed third.

Dru Nichols, a sophomore member of Sam Rayburn High School’s team, said the key to victory was lots of hands-on practice. 

In the Texas FFA Association’s Area 8, Midway High School placed first, Crawford High School placed second and Teague High School placed third.

“It feels rewarding,” said Caleb Montgomery, a sophomore member of Midway High School’s team. “We have all been working on this since September.”

Students on the first-place teams in both areas received TSTC scholarships.

The top three teams from each area will compete in a state FFA tractor technician competition to be held in March at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Teams of three students took a written test and did a parts identification test. The students performed a troubleshooting exercise on John Deere and Kubota tractors donated for the competition by United Ag & Turf and Tipton International, both in Waco. Students drove the tractors once the teams found and repaired the problems.

TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program instructors and students served as contest judges and  created the problems the high school students found in the tractors.

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TSTC First in Texas to Join Tesla START Program

(WACO, Texas) – Starting in March, Texas State Technical College will become the first college in Texas to host the Tesla START training program. 

Tesla START is an accelerated 12-week training program designed to equip students with the skills necessary to become electric vehicle technicians. Following completion of the program, Tesla will work with successful students for placement in a Tesla Service Center in North America. 

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Automotive Technology, said the advanced training program will teach students to work on Tesla’s electric vehicles. He said graduates of TSTC’s automotive technology, aviation maintenance and electrical programs could be a good fit for the work.

Cervantez said the program is open to everyone in the community to apply, and students will be hired by Tesla. The training program will be housed in Waco at TSTC’s Kultgen Automotive Center. Tesla will provide the instructor, training equipment, vehicles, tools and curriculum for the program. 

Cervantez said each Tesla START class is about a dozen students, and will have three 12-week sessions this year. Students will develop technical expertise and earn certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning. Students are employed by Tesla as hourly interns.

Kelly Filgo, TSTC’s executive director of special projects, said working with Tesla is a great example of TSTC’s state-directed mandate to emphasize “highly specialized advanced and emerging technical and vocational areas for certificates or associate degrees.”

“Tesla recognizes we are a good pool to pull talent from,” Filgo said.

“For more than fifty years, TSTC has worked hand in glove with Texas employers to fulfill their needs for a skilled workforce,” said Mike Reeser, Chancellor & CEO of TSTC. “This partnership with Tesla is another example of the innovative manner in which we place Texans in great paying jobs.”

There are currently six other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Washington. The program launched in 2018 and has had a total of more than 300 graduates to date. 

For more information on Tesla START, go to

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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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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.”

For more information on EMA Electromechanics, go to

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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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