Author Archives: Debra Townsend

TSTC Expansion Brings New Opportunities in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER) – As industrial trades continue to grow in the West Texas area, Texas State Technical College is at the forefront, ready to supply graduates to fill new job openings.

Starting this fall, TSTC in Sweetwater will expand two of the college’s flagship programs, welding and diesel equipment, to increase its capacity to produce more work-ready technicians. The welding program, which currently houses 25 welding booths, will be expanding to hold 60 booths, and the diesel equipment program will expand from 30 enrollment slots to 60.

“Diesel and welding jobs are plentiful and projected to grow,” said Provost Eliska Smith. “TSTC chose to invest $1,750,000 to expand these two in-demand programs and equip even more quality welders and diesel mechanics.”

With the expansion, TSTC will be able to serve more Texans – both dual enrollment and full-time students – schedule courses more effectively, add additional course offerings, and grow its residential student body.

Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development said as Sweetwater’s economic base continues to expand into logistics, energy and manufacturing, the need for developing the skill sets in welding, diesel, electrical and hydraulics also grows.

“TSTC continues to meet and exceed the current training needs while growing opportunities for their students and our companies’ future employees,” Becker said. “TSTC has expanded programs to not only meet the needs of today but to prepare students for expanding opportunities at new and existing companies.”

“Another benefit of more welding and diesel students living on the TSTC campus in Sweetwater is more dollars being spent in the Sweetwater economy as well,” added Smith. “TSTC residential students become a part of the community, eating at restaurants, and buying gas and groceries here.”

Taylor Elston, a welding instructor at TSTC in Sweetwater, agrees, and said the expansion also brings new opportunities for instructional growth, increasing the knowledge base of students.

“It’s an opportunity to get into different welding processes that haven’t been offered here yet,” Elston said.

TSTC currently offers a pipe welding certificate in Sweetwater, but the expansion would allow the college to branch out to offer a structural welding certificate as well. A structural welding certification is a valuable credential for welders who work with structural steel, petroleum pipelines, sheet metal and chemical refinery materials. The annual median wage for welders is $41,000, a great return on a $5,000 investment for a one-year certificate.

Keith McDonald, the district service manager for Yellowhouse Machinery South Texas, says the company employs three TSTC diesel graduates, and would benefit from the growth in qualified workers.

“Techs are few and far between,” McDonald said. “Not everyone can grab a wrench and say ‘I’m a technician.’ There are definitely more openings than there are qualified technicians.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 21 percent increase in jobs for diesel engine specialists in Texas through 2022, and a whopping 43 percent increase in welding jobs in the same time period.

TSTC currently offers welding at the Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County campuses. Associate degrees and certificates are available, varying by campus. Diesel equipment technology is also offered at TSTC’s campuses in Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco.

TSTC will begin enrolling new students for the summer and fall semesters on April 4. For more information on the college, or to apply, visit


Longview Company Provides Work Experience, Scholarships to TSTC Students

(MARSHALL) – Four Industrial Controls Technology students at Texas State Technical College in Marshall are receiving scholarships and valuable experience this year at Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview.

The company offered paid summer internships to Alex Archer, 24, of Shreveport, La.; Bailey Green, 19, of Ore City; Dakota Skinner, 19, of Hughes Springs and Zach Stalnaker, 22, of Longview. The students enrolled for fall classes and received scholarships from the company to pay for their education until graduation.

“None of them were scholarship students out of high school,” said Garland Underwood, a workforce technologist for 33 years at Eastman. “They were in the top of their class and they were what we were looking for. We turned around and gave scholarships to those four students for their second year.”

The students have worked with troubleshooting, calibrations and device, pump, motor and instrument installation at Eastman.

“I enjoy working at Eastman because the people that I work with are very understanding and take the time to teach and show me how things work,” said Archer, a 2009 graduate of C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport. “I appreciate the financial help.”

Green, a 2014 graduate of Ore City High School, said he was grateful for the financial help, too.

“Eastman has made a big impact on me. This experience will definitely help me in the future regarding school work and what goes on in the field,” he said. “Also, receiving the scholarship was a big help. I have learned so much in these past three months that it’s unbelievable.”

Eastman gives scholarships to about 25 area high school seniors yearly who enroll at the Marshall campus to pursue electrical and maintenance work, welding or technology. Eastman’s student support continues with a summer internship if they maintain a 3.0 grade point average, completed at least two semesters and have good attitudes and people skills.

“They get a lot of hands-on and life experience and they will hire most of the students that are doing an internship,” said Jimmie Wilson, an instructor of Industrial Controls Technology at TSTC in Marshall.

Underwood said he has been pleased with the quality of TSTC students and graduates who have gone on to work at Eastman.

“Overall, we are happy with the program in Marshall,” Underwood said. “Jimmie Wilson worked at Eastman for more than 30 years and he is one of the best electricians that have been in our plant. He turns out very high quality electricians and instrumentation people.”

Skinner, a graduate of Hughes Springs High School, became interested in the electrical field after working on small wiring projects.

“All of the people at Eastman are really supportive and aren’t afraid to help you with any question you may have,” he said.

Students interested in studying Industrial Controls Technology can pursue an associate degree at TSTC in Marshall. There is also an associate degree in Instrumentation Technology offered at TSTC in Waco.

Students can also earn one-year certificates in Industrial Electrical Systems at TSTC in North Texas, Industrial Electrical Systems at the Williamson County campus and Owens-Illinois Industrial Technician in Waco.

Eastman Chemical Co. was founded in 1920 in Kingsport, Tenn. and has more than 15,000 employees at locations in the United States, Mexico, China, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, South Korea along with several facilities in Europe. The chemical company works with clients in the transportation, construction, agriculture and industrials and chemicals processing industries.

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TSTC Team Wins Spelling Event

(MARSHALL) – The team of Mara Hartsell, Glena Lowe and Alan Towery represented Texas State Technical College in Marshall and won the Marshall – Harrison County Literacy Council’s Spelling Bee held Friday, Sept. 11 at First United Methodist Church in Marshall.

The team won by spelling “credibility” correctly.

“I was actually in it last year so I had studied the word list they gave out then as well as the list for this year,” said Towery, an instructor of Internet Technology Studies. “The winning word was spelled by Mara Hartsell (success coach) who was a last minute replacement for Patty Lopez. We also had to spell the word the other team that was left misspelled, which was ‘esophagus’ which I spelled.”

Teams represented 14 area school districts, companies, colleges and media outlets.

“The spelling bee was totally awesome,” said Lowe, coordinator of workforce training and continuing education in Marshall. “I had a great time meeting other competitors from Harrison County.”

The spelling event is the literacy council’s only fundraising event and raises money providing free adult education to county residents. Organization staff work with clients in reading, writing, mathematics, English as a Second Language and pre-GED instruction.

“It raises about a fourth of our annual operating budget, so it’s success largely determines how many people we can serve during the year,” said Karla DeLuca, the literacy council’s executive director.

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TSTC to Hold Second Annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show Saturday

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will hold its second annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the campus in Abilene.

There will be a $20 fee per vehicle per class to enter the show. Classes include antique, classic, muscle, import, pick up, orphan, unfinished, Volkswagen, Corvette, rat rod, low rider and motorcycle.

Several TSTC programs will be participating, including Emergency Medical Services performing wellness checks, Digital Arts drawing caricatures, and Welding creating the trophies for car show winners. Digital Media Design also designed fliers for the event, Drafting mapped out the event area, Software & Business Management organized the vendors and the Chemical Dependency Counseling program is hosting.

A variety of booths will be present, and the animal shelter will have a food drive and adoption event. There will also be vendors selling food and crafts.

Sponsors include:

GOLD: Abilene Chicken Expresses (owned by TSTC Alumnus Steve Davis), Classic Auto Restyling
SILVER: Arrow Ford, Abilene Behavioral Health, A Party People, 3rd Street Printing and Sign Co.
BRONZE: The 180 House, Mary Kay

Admission is free. Funds raised will benefit Guardians of the Children, and TSTC’s Reach Club and Student Leadership. For more information, visit

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TSTC’s Laser Electro-Optics Program to hold information session at North Texas campus

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College will hold a free information session from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13 in Room 126 of the Industrial Technology Center at 119 Lowrance on the TSTC campus.

The information session is for potential students who would like to earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Laser Electro-Optics. The session will include information about the degree plan, career opportunities and a hands-on skilled lab project.

Space is limited. To reserve your seat email today.

For more information, contact the Laser Electro-Optics Department at 254-867-4857.

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TSTC Partners With Crosby Group for Workforce Training

(MARSHALL) – Texas State Technical College in Marshall recently received a $192,179 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The grant will pay for training more than 260 employees at The Crosby Group in Longview.

Twenty-nine tool and die employees will upgrade their skills at TSTC taking Advanced Gas Tungsten Welding, Basic Machining, Blueprint Reading and Sketching, Computer Numerical Controlled Machining and Math and Measurement for Machining.

More than 230 workers will take the 12-hour safety course Manufacturing Process and Safety taught by company staff at the Fisher Road facility in Longview.

The company specializing in material handling applications, lifting and rigging products announced in April a $45 million expansion and relocation to Longview Business Park. The company is based in Tulsa, Okla. and also has locations in Canada, Europe and China.

“I think the stance is TSTC is training a reliable workforce,” said Mike Heidger, human resources manager at the Longview facility. “It’s tough to find good talent today. TSTC is a big benefit for the region especially with employers needing desperately today a trained workforce.”

Bryan Maertins, director of workforce training and continuing education at TSTC in Marshall, could not be happier about the grant’s awarding.

“One of the things we are receiving is equipment,” Maertins said. More than $14,000 of the grant will be used for new welding machines and machining equipment to support the Crosby workers and for future Marshall welding and machining students to use for hands-on training.

The grant funding period is from Aug. 31, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016. Since the mid-1990s, the Skills Development Fund has helped more than 4,000 Texas employers and more than 215,000 workers learn new work skills, according to the state workforce commission. The grant program has also helped create more than 101,000 new jobs.


TSTC to Hold Second Annual Reach for Recovery Car & Bike Show

(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College will hold its second annual “Reach for Recovery” Car & Bike Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the campus in Abilene. There will be a $20 fee per vehicle per class to enter the show. Classes include antique, import, rat rod, motorcycle and more. Admission is free. Funds raised will benefit Guardians of the Children, and TSTC’s Reach Club and Student Leadership. For more information, visit

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TSTC Hosts Czech Government, Cultural Delegation

(WACO) – An eight-member delegation from the Czech Republic toured the Col. James T. Connally Aerospace Center at Texas State Technical College in Waco on Thursday, Sept. 3.

The group received a glimpse of the five academic programs offered at the center: Air Traffic Controller, Aircraft Airframe Technician, Aircraft Dispatch Technology, Aircraft Pilot Training Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.

Carson Pearce, Aerospace Division director, showed the group the air traffic control lab which has a simulator students can use to work in conditions such as fog, rain and darkness to gain hands-on experience directing incoming and outgoing flights.

“Our students are taught by the finest instructors in America who have more than 30 years of experience with the Federal Aviation Administration in air traffic control,” Pearce said.

The Czech visitors watched a student use a Redbird flight simulator to “land” in Prague.

Pearce said aviation maintenance students undertake the equivalent of four years of work in two years and called their work some of the most intense on campus. He said students keep track of 1,900 hours of training for the Federal Aviation Administration’s rating as mechanics.

“Most of our graduates have jobs waiting for them before they graduate,” Pearce said.

Pearce also showed the group the college’s collection of original aviation oil artwork located in the first floor boardroom. The artwork symbolizes something no other higher education institution has in the United States: The legacy and heritage of a military airfield. The land the college is on was once used for flight training and as James T. Connally Air Force Base which was decommissioned in the late 1960s.

One of the TSTC staff members leading the delegation was Stevie Vanek, a housing maintenance foreman and mayor-pro tem for the city of West.

“Any time you can exchange cultural visits, it’s a great thing,” he said.

Pearce gave the Czech visitors specially minted coins depicting the aerospace center.

Ivana Majickova, mayor of Kunovice, Czech Republic, said she felt inspired by the opportunities she saw students have.

“This school is a very beautiful school,” said Majickova. “In my city, we also have a school for aviation as well. In our town we don’t have all the programs in one place.”

Also part of the delegation was Jan Mazuch, former cultural attache representing the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C. along with his wife, Magda; their sons Honza and Stephen and Alexandra Janku, all of Brno. Majickova’s husband, Petr, and Vicar General Josef Nuzik of Olomouc also made the trip.

The tour was part of the group’s visit to Texas highlighted by the signing this weekend of an educational, economic and cultural sister city agreement with the city of West which has a large Czech-American population.

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Detail Mold & Design Donates EDM Drill to TSTC

(HUTTO) –┬áDetail Mold & Design LLC donated a Sodick electronic discharge machine drill to the Precision Machining program at TSTC in Williamson County.
Precision Machining Instructor Darren Block said the donation will help students gain experience with a tool and die machine.
“The software is similar to other CNC machines we have, so not only will the gain the experience, but they’ll be able to learn on what industry is using right now,” Block said. “Another plus, is that if they make a mistake in their work, they can salvage it with this machine.”
Detail Mold & Design began in 1990 in Round Rock, and moved to Leander, Texas about two years ago. They specialize in creating molds for the fiber optics industry.  The company learned of TSTC through a connection with a friend from church.
“One of the things that we’re hoping is that through education, we can get more qualified personnel coming out of the school to come into our line of business” said Ray Lensing of Detail Mold. “We’re a machine shop, but we specialize in injection molds. It’s the same principle, but a lot more intricate in its details.”
Lensing says the machine should help prepare the graduates for the field. The value of the machine is approximately $10,000.
“The machine is a very important part of our operations,” Lensing said. “It supports a lot of the operations that have to be done.”

The Precision Machining program is available at the Fort Bend County, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses. A similar program, Computer Aided Manufacturing, is available at the Marshall campus. For more information on TSTC and the Precision Machining program, visit

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Logistics Program at TSTC Expects First Graduates in Fall

(RED OAK) – Last fall, TSTC in North Texas debuted its Logistics Technology program, catering to those who want to specialize in the lucrative industry of logistics.

The program, which expects its first graduates in Dec. 2015, covers the logistics industry from start to end.

“It starts with purchasing raw materials,” said Instructor William Scott, “then we cover the transportation of those raw materials to the manufacturing plant, storing inventory, operation of storage facilities and distribution.”

How does TSTC’s Logistics program differ from others in the state?

“We’re the only logistics program that has the hands-on component of a technical school,” Scott said. “The other schools that offer logistics degrees, you can get an associate degree in logistics, but there’s no hands-on training.”

Kay Jones, one of the Logistics students on track to graduate in December, said she originally came to TSTC to do a computer-related program, but decided it didn’t fit. After sitting down and talking to Program Chair Leroy White, she chose logistics instead.

“It is the best decision I ever made,” Jones said. “Logistics is so vast and it’s so cutting-edge right now that I’m sure I’ll be able to get a job. Plus, we have the best professor. I’d put him against anybody in the state. He’s wonderful.”

After graduation, Jones hopes to become a U.S. Customs Broker.

“I graduate on Dec. 11, and on the 14th, I help set up the US Customs Broker course that is going to be taught here at TSTC,” Jones said. “I’m going to start that course and get my Customs Broker License by April, and I want to start a global import/export business.”

Jones hopes to eventually go into humanitarian logistics.

“I want to go into third world countries and help women in poverty. They make these items and sell them, and people take them to other countries and sell them for double. I want to go in there and pay them more to help these women out of poverty.”

Logistics Technology is exclusively offered at TSTC’s North Texas campus. For more information on the program, visit, or call 972-617-4040.
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