Author Archives: Daniel Perry

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Grads in Demand

(WACO) – As a child, Beau Babineau of Creedmoor enjoyed flipping cars. In high school, he worked as a mechanic and knew he wanted to work with diesel equipment after his dad bought a diesel truck.

“I’ve learned more in two semesters than I had in most of high school,” said Babineau, 18, a Diesel Equipment Technology student at Texas State Technical College.

Job prospects are booming for students studying to become diesel technicians.

“Industry pretty much comes here,” said David Folz, lead instructor for the Diesel Equipment Technology program at TSTC. “They are constantly calling us.”

The program has developed several partnerships with industry leaders such as RDO Equipment Co. and Freightliner. Many of these companies send representatives to TSTC to talk to students about the field.

“We had a job fair and got to talk to a lot of really good people,” said Robert Landry, 21, of Cypress. “We’ve got our foot in the door all over the place.”

Landry is excited for the opportunities in the technician field.

“The industry is growing big time,” Landry said. “So there is definitely job security.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas employs the most bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in the country with more than 27,400 workers.

Durham School Services provides transportation for schools across the United States. The company is frequently looking for qualified technicians to hire.

“It is very difficult to find good mechanics,” said Enrique Rangel, lead technician for Durham School Services in Waco. “Experience is something I look for.”

Rangel says experience makes candidates stand out more during the hiring process.

“We’ll base it [hiring] on experience,” Rangel said. “What have they done and where can we develop them to become better mechanics?”

Diesel Equipment Technology students at TSTC get a combination of classroom and hands-on learning.

“They prepare us pretty dang good and they’ve got a lot of engines for us to work on,” said Babineau. “The instructors really seem to care about the stuff we’re learning. We have a lot of hands-on work and it’s pretty fast-paced.”

Babineau is excited for the future and for the rest of his time at TSTC.

“Coming out of a school and having two associate degrees, I think I’ll be moving up quickly through the field,” Babineau said. “A lot of people don’t get that opportunity.”

TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program offers students certificates and associate degrees with specialties. In addition to Waco, the program is offered on the Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas and Sweetwater campuses.

For more information about Texas State Technical College, visit

TSTC Alumni Visit BCT Students

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology students recently learned about their career field from five graduates now working at Galaxy Builders Ltd. in San Antonio.

Ramiro Contreras, Joel Doss, Ryan Hutton, Zach McLeskey and Courtney Seelhorst work at the company and told students how their TSTC studies helped them succeed in their careers. The alumni also offered employment advice.

“There were things I learned in the classroom that I didn’t understand at first,” said Seelhorst, an assistant project manager at the company. “But then the links between the classroom and the field come together and it all makes sense.”

Each alumnus spoke individually and then answered questions at the end of their presentations. Students were encouraged to stay later and speak with them.

“Galaxy is a great company and this is a great school,” said Hutton,a junior assistant superintendent at the company. “It’s changed my life.”

Galaxy Builders often sends representatives to TSTC to attend job fairs and speak with students.

“It gives them real life experience,” said John Russell, an instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. “Here’s what these guys have done with their lives. It shows students if they put forth the effort, they can be successful too. This company is big on our students and has high regards for them.”

TSTC Building Construction Technology major Luis Diaz, 20, of Georgetown was impressed with what he heard from the group.

“They can relate to us,” he said. “They told us how important it is to show up on time and pay attention in class. I really liked their culture. They take care of their employees.”

For more information about Texas State Technical College, visit

TSTC Students Able to Find Internships and Job Opportunities in Diesel Equipment Technology

(MARSHALL) – Supervisors at the Sabine Mining Co. in Hallsville see little turnover in its mobile equipment department.

The more than 40 employees, some being graduates of Texas State Technical College, work on bulldozers, forklifts, hydraulic cranes and other heavy equipment for mining operations. The company currently has one full-time diesel equipment mechanic opening.

Matt Hampton, the company’s mobile equipment department maintenance manager, said finding the right employees is a challenge. Hampton said the company looks for employees through online job sites and career fairs. He said the two biggest qualities sought in job candidates are aptitude and attitude.

Hampton said the company uses TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology students as paid interns, and many are hired after graduation.

“We like having the interns around,” Hampton said. “It gives them a chance to do a year to two-year interview. If the timing is right and the person is right, we will hire them.”

The number of bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in East Texas is projected to grow to more than 1,000 up to 2026, according to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Labor Market and Career Information Department.

Hannah Luce, a campus coordinator for TSTC Career Services, said internships are important because students get work experience as they attend classes. And, she said companies are seeking TSTC’s graduates.

“Our Diesel Equipment Technology instructors know the importance of hands-on learning and expose the students to many different projects in the shop to help them be prepared when they graduate,” Luce said.

Some of the projects students work on come from residents who own diesel equipment. Michael Sanders, a TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology instructor, said the labor is free to residents but they have to purchase needed parts. And, they need to be patient.

“They cannot rush us because we teach as we are doing the job,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the experiences the students have can take them wherever they want to work.

“It is up to the student if they want to do well and it is hard on them, but that is the way life is nowadays,” he said. “Most of our students that graduate go into the mechanic profession. I have them working in Midland. I have had some in Kilgore. I have some working in Longview. We do a lot of interning with companies out there.”

TSTC in Marshall’s Diesel Equipment Technology program has more than 60 students this semester studying for certificates or specialized associate degrees.

TSTC also offers Diesel Equipment Technology on the Fort Bend County, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Receives Scholarship and Equipment Check from San Antonio Organization

(WACO) – More than 20 Automotive Technology majors at Texas State Technical College will receive a financial boost this semester from a San Antonio-based automotive organization.

The non-profit Community of Automotive Professionals, which runs CarFest in San Antonio, recently awarded a $30,000 check for scholarships and equipment for the participation of Waco’s Automotive Technology students in the 2018 event.

TSTC in Waco students who took part in CarFest and participated in SkillsUSA last year were eligible for the $500 scholarships. TSTC in Waco and Harlingen Automotive Technology majors who have at least a 3.25 grade point average were also eligible, said Chris Perales, an instructor in TSTC in Waco’s Automotive Technology program.

“This is to help them buy what they need to continue their education,” Perales said.

Gabriella Villarreal, 20, of Brownwood attended last year’s CarFest and said the experience was beneficial because she learned about door and tire mechanisms.

She said the scholarship will be put to good use.

“It’s helping me with my living accommodation,” Villarreal said. “I have to pay rent. It’s helping me to continue in school.”

Patrick Bruce, 25, of Waco is benefitting from a scholarship because of his grade-point average. He said the money will help pay for classes as he and his fiancé prepare to buy a house.

Other TSTC in Waco Automotive Technology majors that received scholarships are David Davis, Ramiro Hernandez, Jaeshon Jackson, Patrick Kaltenbach, Kevin Le, Krystal Marshall, Jens Moen, Joel Ramirez, Samuel Shimek, Shelby Terry, Ricardo Villegas and Andrew Whatley.

TSTC in Harlingen students who received scholarships are Christopher Aguilar, Luis Barrientos, Christopher Machado, Jose Munoz, Noel Soto and Joshua Vasquez.

TSTC in Waco’s Automotive Technology students will participate in this year’s CarFest 2019 from April 5-7 at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

For more information on CarFest, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC and GWAMA Partnership Help Promote Career and Technical Education

(WACO) – Hipolito Galan is already putting a spark in his future career.

Galan, 18, is a senior who spends mornings at Waco High School and afternoons at the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, or GWAMA. His days are a combination of textbooks and hands-on learning with welding equipment.

“It’s something different every day,” said Galan, who plans to enroll this fall in the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Students in GWAMA’s welding program can earn dual enrollment credits good for use at TSTC.

Galan said he has come to enjoy fabrication work while attending the academy.

“I like to build things that can be used,” he said.

Besides welding, GWAMA also offers courses in robotics and electronics, along with construction.

“It gives them an advantage to the beginning of a career,” said Brandon McMahan, an instructor in TSTC’s Robotics Technology program. “They have the hunger to learn.”

The high school students use professional-level equipment in their classes, such as 3D printers to create parts for small rockets.

“They are using the same type of robots we have here and in industry,” McMahan said. “We want to maintain a strong relationship with that school. Their students are doing what we want to teach them.”

The academy has about 200 juniors and seniors from more than 10 area high schools, the farthest being in Mexia.

“I get to see people who have the same interests that I do,” Galan said.

GWAMA’s classes enable small, rural school districts who cannot afford to have an array of technical education classes to be able to give students high-quality experiences that can spark curiosity.

“This whole concept was designed for surrounding districts to share the costs of having a program of this magnitude,” said Donna McKethan, director of career and technical education for the Waco Independent School District.

McKethan said the academy’s precision metal manufacturing program will be tweaked this fall to include an emphasis on computer-aided design. And, the architecture program currently at Waco High School will be moved this fall to GWAMA for all interested students to participate in.

GWAMA’s plans do not stop beyond the fall.

McKethan said a new academy focusing on cyber security and networking will have a dual enrollment component with TSTC and another two-year college starting in 2020. McKethan said the number of students is expected to be capped at 40 juniors and seniors a year.

“A lot of what you see is years of working with TSTC and some hard lessons on what can work with the students,” McKethan said.

For more information on the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Student Builds Leadership Skills as Campus Ambassador

(RED OAK) – Orlando Chavez, 19, of Red Oak did not look far to make his college decision.

Chavez is a Precision Machining Technology major at Texas State Technical College, which is next door to Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

“I have enjoyed getting to learn how to use the milling machines and lathe,” Chavez said. “It was a major learning curve, but it was the best thing I learned so far.”

Theo Comer, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said Chavez has been a joy to teach.

“He shows an energy to learn and the effort to do it correctly,” Comer said.

Chavez also serves as a TSTC student ambassador. Applicants for that position are interviewed by campus student recruitment staff and chosen for their academic work, along with their communication and leadership skills. He works at campus events, such as the recent Spring Counselors Update, gives tours to campus visitors and assists potential students with their TSTC applications.

“He’s not only gaining the technical skills needed to be a successful machinist, but he is also gaining valuable soft skills to enhance his employability,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC provost.

After graduation in December, Chavez wants to work in an area maintenance shop and possibly pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

He said the first time he walked into TSTC in North Texas’ Industrial Technology Center was during a spring open house event.

“I would have to say TSTC was very convenient for me,” Chavez said. “I didn’t want to go to a university because the environment was very different. I didn’t want to go as big. It’s close to home, and I didn’t really have to spend as much as at other universities.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Student Uses Military Discipline in Studies

(WACO) – Discipline acquired from military service plays an important role in Texas State Technical College student Edward Hernandez’s day.

“I know I need to wake up at 5 a.m. so I’m not late,” said Hernandez, 50, of Killeen. “I work everything around school.”

Hernandez grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was a member of the U.S. Army for 20 years.

In between Auto Collision and Management Technology classes, Hernandez fits in lunch and does homework at the campus Veteran Services Center.

“This is therapy for me, being at school,” he said. “I want to go to work.”

Hernandez started this semester working on a certificate in Auto Collision Repair.

“Painting a car is like painting a picture,” he said. “It’s art.”

Tracy Marshall, senior instructor in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program, said Hernandez brings insight to class discussions.

“He is not afraid to comment,” Marshall said. “You can tell he has a general interest in learning. He is very quick to learn.”

Hernandez is among the fifth generation of family members who joined the Army. His great-grandfather fought in World War II, his grandfather took part in the Korean War, his father was part of the Vietnam War, and Hernandez had two deployments to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Hernandez’s son is currently in the Army.

“Joining the Army is a good job, plus you can retire early,” Hernandez said.

He learned about TSTC by searching online for auto collision and repair programs.

“I always wanted to learn to paint cars,” he said. “When I decided to do it, I wanted to learn to paint and repair. I have always loved cars.”

Hernandez graduated in December from TSTC with a certificate in Auto Collision Refinishing.

His goal after finishing college is to work at a restoration shop.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Austin Company and TSTC Build Welding Relationship

(HUTTO) – Lauren Caprio got her first welding job in 2016 shortly after graduating with a certificate from the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County.

Caprio, 33, of Pflugerville is a level III ultra-high-purity welder at Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin, where she works in a humidity-controlled clean room with employees wearing white protective gear to do tungsten inert gas welding and orbital welding. The controlled climate means employees can work with very pure materials to ensure quality for the biomedical, pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries.

“It is super-high accuracy,” Caprio said. “Everything has to be really exact. It you are detail-oriented, it is satisfying.”

The longer Caprio has worked at the company, the more complex her training has become.

“I know there is a ton of work for me here,” she said. “I feel really appreciated.”

Seventy percent of what the company has produced in the last 12 months has been exported overseas.

“We are passionate about building things in the United States,” said Robb Misso, the company’s chief executive officer. “Our ability to grow is limited to hiring good-quality welders, period.”

The company primarily looks for welding job candidates at TSTC and other two-year institutions.

“Building relationships with employers is essential to the success of our graduates and the TSTC mission,” said Edgar Padilla, provost of TSTC in Williamson County.

Misso said students learning about welding should think more high-tech as the industry evolves into automation and robotics. Parents and school counselors can play a role in encouraging students to pursue welding.

“We need a skilled workforce to do the assembly,” Misso said. “More TIG (tungsten inert gas), less MIG (metal inert gas welding).”

Misso said China, Vietnam and Malaysia are some of the nations he keeps an eye on regarding their technology. He said these countries have lower land costs, but the work quality does not compare to what is created in the U.S.

“For us to bring the jobs back to the U.S., we have to use technology to have a step up on other parts of the world,” Misso said.

Welding jobs in the United States are projected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, welding factors into industries such as aerospace, construction and manufacturing that the Texas Workforce Commission considers as being in-demand and high-earning in the state.

“Welding is an interesting science in that the physics of welding will never change, but the methods of teaching and technology available to do so will continue at a rapid pace,” Padilla said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in Waco Student-Run Restaurant to Open Feb. 6

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program opens its student-run restaurant Wednesday, Feb. 6, for the spring semester.

The restaurant is located in the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center on Campus Drive and is open to the public. Student-prepared meals with themes such as Hawaii, Ireland and Native American will be featured.

Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from Feb. 6 to April 19 except for March 13 and March 15 due to Spring Break. Each menu includes up to three courses.

The serving days and themes are:

Feb. 6 and Feb. 8: Texas

Feb. 13 and Feb. 15: Native American

Feb. 20 and Feb. 22: Hawaii

Feb. 27 and March 1: Romania

March 6 and March 8: Ireland

March 20 and March 22: Native American

March 27 and March 29: Hawaii

April 3 and April 5: Romania

April 10 and April 12: Ireland

April 17 and April 19: Live-Action Buffet

Menus and dates are subject to change without notice.

Call 254-867-4868 to make reservations. Reservations are not accepted on serving days. Customers should arrive 15 minutes before their seating time.

The restaurant is not providing to-go orders this semester.

For menus and other information, visit or the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center at TSTC in Waco Facebook page.

TSTC in Williamson County Hosts Spring Counselors Update

(HUTTO) – About 70 area educators learned Tuesday how Texas State Technical College’s technical programs can support the state’s economy.

The TSTC Spring Counselors Update held at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto featured talks from TSTC staff about the registration process, dual enrollment and certificate and associate degree options.

Josh Schier, chair of the Cyber Security program at TSTC, said the field needs problem solvers. He said there are about 10,000 jobs open now in cyber security in the state, with the Austin area being one of the places with opportunities for graduates.

“We teach a mindset to be successful,” Schier said. “The challenge is filling the jobs. Students need to learn networking to begin with.”

Darren Block, statewide chair of the Precision Machining Technology department at TSTC, said students who graduate with a certificate in the field typically make at least $18 an hour,while those with an associate degree can make at least $22 an hour.

“The job market is great right now, and our economy is great, with low unemployment rates,” Block said. “All of my students have jobs lined up in their third semester, and some companies are offering to pay for student loans as sign-on bonuses.”

Ed Latson, executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told attendees that manufacturing is the top contributor to the area’s gross domestic product. He said there are about 1,500 manufacturing companies with about 57,000 jobs in the area. Many of those jobs are technology-based.

Some of the skills companies are looking for in potential employees include the ability to read drawings, take measurements, do mathematics, drive forklifts and complete shop paperwork, Latson said. But, companies also need people with good communication skills.

Liane Kerkman, a teacher at Wayside: Sci Tech Middle and High School in Austin, visited TSTC for the first time on Tuesday. She said out of this year’s 34-member senior class, about half are considering two-year secondary education options.

Kerkman said TSTC’s Cyber Security program could spark her students’ interest.

“TSTC is a good resource to bring back to them,” she said. “A lot of them are hesitant about a four-year university.”

Shirley Reich, a college and career coordinator at the Hutto Independent School District, said she was surprised at the number of jobs available in technical fields. She said the labor market will give staff more information to guide students on their post-high school paths.

“This (TSTC) is in their backyard,” Reich said. “It’s getting them in the door and excited.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to