Category Archives: West Texas

TSTC Automotive Technology student learning more than he expected

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Joseph Fredericks, of Ballinger, admits that he is learning more than he expected in Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program.

Fredericks, a second-semester student, is already setting his sights on furthering his education at TSTC. He is currently studying for a basic automotive certificate and plans to earn an automotive technician certificate.

“After I earn my automotive technician certification, my ultimate goal is to work for an engine building company,” Fredericks said. “Until I am able to do that, I want to find a good place to work that pays well. I know I am going to have to work my way up the ladder.”

Fredericks said his mechanical experience was somewhat limited before he enrolled at TSTC.

“I spent more than two years working in a shop before I enrolled in school,” he said. “I wanted to learn more.”

He has been learning more by working with his fellow students in the shop.

“I like how things are set up here, and we are able to work with other people,” Fredericks said. “We are able to help each other, and I really like to help people out.”

Instructor Gerod Strother sees that trait daily in Fredericks.

“He is willing to help anyone in the class. He takes a lot of pride in his work,” he said.

Fredericks said Strother teaches students in a way that will help them in professional shops.

“We are covering everything that is important to know when we are in the shop. That has been helpful for all of us,” he said. “The hands-on approach is the best way to teach a program like this. Shop time is the best time for me.”

Fredericks said TSTC recruiters drew him to the program.

“The recruiters came to our high school in San Angelo and told us about the program. I knew I needed to look into this as a career,” he said.

When he is not in class, Fredericks said he likes to show his family what he has learned.

“My dad likes it when I come home and do some work on his truck, especially since it is free,” he said. “We also have a tractor that is always breaking down, and I am able to fix it with the little bit of experience I have been able to learn so far.”

However, tractors and cars are not all he wants to work on when he graduates.

“I hope to build the engines for drag racing,” he said. “I have always enjoyed watching drag racing and would like to build engines for those cars.”

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Amos enjoys challenges of TSTC’s Welding Technology

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Comanche’s Caden Amos likes the challenges he faces in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology classes.

He is working toward a certificate and looking forward to the day when he has a job. With instructor Daniel Aguirre providing his own work experience, Amos knows he will be well prepared when he graduates.

“Daniel likes to throw a curve at us,” Amos said. “He knows when he does that, we will be ready to take on anything.”

Amos started the program with no welding experience, but Aguirre has seen his progression over the last two semesters.

“He came in here with zero experience and has picked up things really well,” Aguirre said. “He is actually understanding what goes into making a good welder.”

Amos said he had trouble learning the welding fundamentals, but credits Aguirre and other students for helping him.

“I would take my project to Daniel, and he would say I needed to toy with it,” Amos said. “Some of the guys in here have welding experience, and I know I can go to them to see how things can be improved.”

Aguirre said Amos’ work ethic will lead him to a career.

“He puts great effort into his work. He knows that if it is not how I like it, he will keep working to make it right,” he said.

Amos said he does not have any regrets about choosing TSTC and a welding career.

“I was thinking about becoming a mechanical engineer, but took a shot in the dark and tried welding,” he said. “I knew TSTC would prepare me for a career.”

Once he is working, Amos knows the environment will be different.

“I want to see how everything I am learning relates to the real world and not in a shop setting,” he said. “I know when I am working I am going to have to learn on the fly. Daniel is preparing me for that.”

Welding runs in Amos’ family, and he hopes to work in the West Texas oil fields like his brother.

“I hope to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” he said.

Amos said more people should consider a career in welding and taking classes at TSTC.

“The staff here is great. If you fall behind, everyone will help you get caught up,” he said. “Everyone here wants you to succeed.”

Welding Technology is available at each of TSTC’s 10 campuses.

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Johnson tours TSTC, finds new career

(ABILENE, Texas) – U.S. Navy veteran James Johnson had some downtime in his life.

“I decided I wanted to go back to school. I knew I could use my GI Bill,” said Johnson, a student in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program.

In fact, Johnson already knew some of the things he would learn in the program. While in the Navy, Johnson worked with electronics, satellite communications and information technology systems.

When he left the Navy, he entered the workforce as a calibrator for Texas Aerospace Services. But the downtime came, and he wanted to learn more.

“When you see what is in here (TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center), everything is offered in this one program,” he said. “Welding is just one aspect. This program offers you multiple opportunities.”

Another reason he chose TSTC was the help he received from Annette Collins, the Veteran Services program officer in West Texas.

“Annette is one of the reasons I started here. She knows what veterans need to do to get into school,” Johnson said. “She would sit down with me and help me with each step.”

Collins was equally impressed with Johnson.

I was so honored to talk to him because he holds all the values of a veteran,” she said. “I saw the potential in him, and I felt that Industrial Systems would be great for him. He has all the skills to do great things in that program.”

While touring the program, Collins introduced Johnson to the instructors. The introductions strengthened her belief in Johnson.

“After he talked to the instructors, he was more enthusiastic about the program,” she said.

Johnson said instructors Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones prepare students for the future.

“They are very thorough while we are in the lab,” he said. “I came in knowing some things, but I have learned so much more.”

Johnson said the program offers students several opportunities.

“I have been learning about pumps and boilers. That is something I have not known much about,” he said. “We are covering it all. We talk about it, and the instructors explain what we need to do.”

With different areas being covered, Johnson said students should be prepared to do one thing.

“Be prepared to devote your time to this program. What we do in the lab two days a week is easy,” he said. “The hard part, for me, is to take the time and commit myself to working online before coming here. You will need to look at all of the material.”

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TSTC students look forward to getting careers off the ground

(ABILENE, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Aircraft Airframe Technology program are back in the hangar.

Students studying for a certificate in the program began their second semester in January and are ready to learn more about the inner workings of an aircraft.

“This semester, so far, has been really good for me,” said Jordan Grisham, of Tyler. “We have been learning a lot of different things, including basic electronics and wood/fabric finishes.”

Grisham was drawn to the program after friends told him it would be a good career choice.

“I also like the mechanical side of the job,” he said. “I have a lot of family members that are pilots, and I thought I would join the family trade. Planes have always been intriguing to me.”

Grisham said he was ready to get back in the hangar after the winter break.

“During the long break, I did not want to leave. I just wanted to stay with it,” he said. “I enjoy the hands-on approach offered in the program.”

Darwin Binek, who is originally from the Metroplex, said his time in the U.S. Marine Corps flying missions overseas led him to continuing in the field.

“The semester has been going really well,” he said. “This is an extension of what I did in the military for 18 years.”

Binek’s wife wanted to move back to Texas, and a family member recommended that he look at TSTC. He said TSTC offers one thing the military did not.

“I like going to school. It is a lot easier than getting shot at when I was deployed,” he said jokingly.

Binek appreciates being able to work in the hangar while also having to study online.

“Like in the military, I learn more by doing things with my hands,” he said. “It is easier for me to get a task done by doing it.”

Both Grisham and Binek know that TSTC is preparing them for a career. But they may go different routes after receiving their certificates.

“I am looking forward to getting a job working on planes,” Grisham said. “I think at the same time I will start learning how to fly.”

Binek would like to return to his roots.

“I think I will try to get on with a defense contractor somewhere,” he said.

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TSTC Welding Technology student makes dad proud

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Lacey Watson, of Coleman, is now able to show her father some of the latest welding techniques.

Watson, a Welding Technology student at Texas State Technical College, is working toward a certificate in the program, but she is most pleased with showing what she has learned to her father, a longtime welder.

“My dad is really happy with what I am learning,” she said. “When I show him some of the things we are learning, he tells me, ‘We didn’t do that way back in the day.’ I know he is proud of me.”

Instructor Daniel Aguirre is also proud of Watson’s progress.

“At first, she was having a lot of difficulties,” he said. “She has shown really good technique, but when she gets in a rut, she can stay there.”

Aguirre said he motivates Watson, helps her move on and is pleased with the results.

“I will tell her to try some different things to see if it works,” he said. “Once she gets it, she takes off with it and does a great job.”

Watson wanted to be a welder because of her father. She said he is preparing for her to join him in the field.

“He is already asking me about a truck with a welding bed,” she said. “I have to tell him to slow down and let me finish school.”

Watson likes her time in the lab with Aguirre and her classmates.

“So far, I have loved it,” she said. “The best way for me to learn is by doing things. I like having people here to help me.”

One of the advantages Watson has in the lab is that she can work at her own pace.

“Daniel allows us to work until we get the project done. That is helpful for me,” she said.

Having Aguirre as an instructor and access to hands-on training made it even better for Watson.

“TSTC is a great place to learn,” she said. “My uncle attended TSTC, and I knew if I gave it a chance I would love it. I am glad I chose TSTC.”

Watson said once she completes her certification requirements in August, she will be ready to join her father.

“Prior to starting, he told me I could work for him. But I wanted to go to school,” she said. “I cannot wait to be working with him.”

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TSTC Wind Energy Technology student sees benefits in renewable energy

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – James Chung knows the benefits of renewable energy.

He began learning of the benefits while living in Korea, and today he is working toward an associate degree in Wind Energy Technology at Texas State Technical College.

Chung, who was born in Boston, wanted to enter the cybersecurity field but admitted it was not for him.

“I knew I would make a lot of money, but somehow it was not fun,” he said. “I learned that was not the specific field I wanted to do. So I searched several job categories. Wind turbine technicians just came up, and it was something I was interested in.”

Chung knew renewable energy is not popular in Korea, but he knew it had potential to grow.

“Some people realize that one wind turbine can generate power for a number of homes,” he said. “I want to be an energy innovator. Wind is just the beginning for me. I hope to spread out to solar and other areas.”

His road to TSTC began with an internet search.

“I researched and learned Texas State Technical College has a great program. I knew this would be a good opportunity for me,” Chung said.

It took Chung time to convince his family that TSTC would be a good place to continue his education.

“They were glad that I had a goal and are supportive of my decision,” he said.

With his family’s support, Chung was ready to begin his studies. He is looking forward to the day when he will climb the turbine tower.

“I am a Christian, and I am looking forward to the day we climb. It will give me the chance to see all of the scenery God has created,” he said. “When I went rock climbing, I admired the scenery. I am looking forward to doing that again.”

Until he is able to climb, Chung talks to other students who have had that experience.

“Our resident assistant is in his second year, and he gives us a lot of tips,” he said. “He shows me examples of what I can expect to learn.”

Chung also knows he can turn to his instructors for help if he needs it. He even attends exercise classes that are not on his schedule to make sure he stays in shape.

“The instructors at TSTC are the best,” he said. “They know we have a lot of questions about the process and are always letting us know what is happening.”

Instructor Billie Jones saw Chung’s ability early.

He is attentive in class and always strives to do his best,” she said. “He takes advantage of any extra materials offered to allow himself to get ahead.

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Daily conversation leads Hernandez to TSTC

(ABILENE, Texas) – While working in her hometown of Snyder, Veronica Hernandez talked to a Scurry County EMS paramedic daily.

The more she talked to the first responder, the more her interest grew in becoming one herself. Hernandez decided it was a good career option and began Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program in January.

“I went to college after high school and was not really feeling it,” she said. “I ended up working for my parents. There was a paramedic next door, and we would always talk. He would tell me what was happening, and I found it interesting. All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted to do.”

While she was late to register for a Scurry County EMS-based program, she knew that TSTC offered the program close to home.

“So far, I have loved every minute of the program here,” Hernandez said. “I like to help people, and I knew this would be the right step.”

Through the first few weeks of the program, Hernandez said she has learned more than she expected.

“The skills we learn in the lab are great,” she said. “Even with COVID protocols, it is good we still have the opportunity to learn. In February, we are going to be starting clinicals. I am excited to be working in different hospitals and ambulances.”

Hernandez is planning to complete her certification and return to study for an associate degree.

“I am going all the way in this program. I will have so many different options after that,” she said.

During high school, Hernandez knew of TSTC’s program, but she did not realize how much the instructors wanted to see students succeed.

“The instructors are awesome. They are so open,” she said. “They like to have one-on-one conversations with you. It is so easy to communicate with the instructors and the students.”

She also likes that most TSTC graduates will be working immediately after school.

“When they told us that we could start working in May, that is something I did not dream of,” she said. “They are preparing us to work in the field.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1,000 emergency medical technicians and paramedics are employed in West Texas. It estimates that EMT/paramedic jobs will increase by 6% by 2029.

Hernandez said TSTC is the place to go for a person wanting to enter the paramedic field.

“The instructors are going to hold you to the highest standard. They are going to make sure you know the material to succeed,” she said.

Hernandez did admit there was one regret.

“I really wish I would have started this program sooner,” she said.

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Students travel different paths to TSTC’s Welding Technology program

(ABILENE, Texas) – Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College is one of the more popular programs offered statewide.

Students enter the program for different reasons, from seeking a career change to learning more about a craft they dabbled in during a weekend project. TSTC instructors will teach students how to hone the craft in order to find a career or simply to complete a weekend project.

Matt Hanneman is finishing his final semester of the associate degree program. He wanted to change careers and knew welders make good money.

“I was in residential and commercial construction,” he said. “I decided I wanted a career change. What I plan to be is a certified welding instructor.”

The lifelong resident of Abilene knew that TSTC offered welding and would be the perfect place to get his education.

“The teachers are really good and are perfect for this program,” Hanneman said. “They let us play around with different projects but are always there to make sure we do things correctly.”

Donovan Gomez, of Clyde, entered the program after working on welding jobs when he graduated from high school.

“I started to like it more and more,” he said. “I wanted to follow my brother in diesel mechanics, but I learned that I enjoyed welding more.”

Gomez is working on his certificate with the goal of finding employment close to home.

“I hope to work in the oil fields in West Texas,” he said.

Like Hanneman, Gomez said the instructors help students learn the tricks of the trade.

“They will let us go through one project, and we will go show them what we did,” he said. “They will tell us what we need to do to fix our project. They always want us to get better.”

Gomez said he was nervous when he first started the program in the fall but has settled into his work bay.

“I think things have come pretty naturally for me,” he said.

Gomez’s biggest struggle was with reading blueprints. But with encouragement, he gained confidence.

“The instructors were always there to help me. Now I am able to read the blueprint and get the work done,” he said.

Hanneman said having a lab available to complete projects drew him to TSTC. But there was another reason why he chose TSTC.

“I really like TSTC’s money-back guarantee. It shows me the confidence of the school because they will give us our money back if we do not find a job,” he said.

In addition to Welding Technology, the money-back guarantee program is available for Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Electrical Power and Controls, and Instrumentation.

Gomez said anyone interested in welding should look at TSTC first.

“All of the machines and equipment we have is great,” he said. “This is a great place to learn.”

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TSTC Automotive Technology students cherish time in shop with instructors

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program provides students with something they cannot find in textbooks: first-hand knowledge.

Students Tanner Tankersley and Brady Kennemur said instructors Mike Myers and Gerod Strother bring their knowledge to the lab sessions in a way that helps them prepare for the workforce.

“The best aspect of this program is the hands-on approach taught by Mike and Gerod,” Kennemur said. “They show us how things work and how things are made.”

Tankersley said the instructors are preparing students for a career.

“They are teaching us everything we need to know in order to be ready for our profession,” he said. “You are taught a lot more by people who have experience.”

Automotive work was not the first career choice for Kennemur.

“I wanted to be a computer engineer. That is something I had been learning since I was 15,” he said. “But then I found out there is nothing better than fixing a car. And most cars have computers in them.”

Kennemur toured the TSTC campus while attending Big Spring High School, but the automotive department was closed that day.

“I had a feeling about the program and decided to tour it,” he said. “I came back and enrolled in the program later that day.”

Tankersley, of Rotan, said he always enjoyed working on cars, and taking classes at TSTC will help him in the future.

“I enjoy being around everyone and working together,” he said. “I hope to continue learning things to prepare me for work.”

Both students return home and work on vehicles and with families and friends.

“I can show them some of the certain things I learned in class,” Tankersley said.

Kennemur said people interested in an automotive career should consider TSTC first.

“There is not a friendlier environment than what is here at TSTC,” he said. “If you are planning to go into mechanics, the more hands-on work you get, the better. We get the best hands-on work from the best instructors. They want us to succeed.”

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TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology student working toward career

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Andres Garza, of Ballinger, knows the key to finding a good-paying job is working on his education.

Garza began his second semester in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program with a goal of graduating and getting a job. He knows it will take time to earn his degree, but he is enjoying his time in the lab.

“I learned a lot about how the truck works,” Garza said of his first semester in the program. “I am looking forward to what will come this semester.”

During the first week of the spring semester, Garza and other students were working on a diesel transmission system.

“Right now, it is a bit challenging learning about the transmission,” he said. “I know that by doing the work during the lab sessions I will be able to master working on the engine.”

One of the reasons Garza enjoys the lab sessions is that it is easier for him to pick up what is being taught. Garza said he suffers from dyslexia and struggles with the online portion of the class. He said the instructors have helped him navigate the course.

“I like the hands-on work we do. It is fast-paced and easier for me to pick up,” he said. “Once I learn something, it sticks in my head and I can do it.”

Garza said attending TSTC was always a goal for him. Before enrolling, he wanted to work toward a commercial driver’s license, which would take two years to complete.

“I decided if it was going to take me two years to get my CDL, I might as well go to school and learn even more,” he said. “I have not had one regret making that decision.”

The love for diesel trucks came naturally for Garza. Some members of his family have driven trucks and have mechanic backgrounds.

“Over time, I started to enjoy working on vehicles. I told myself I should work on the bigger trucks,” he said. “I knew I would be able to make more money that way.”

Instructor Lane White said students can expect well-paying jobs after graduation.

“Once the pandemic is under control, more companies are going to be hiring people,” he said. “We are here to help our students get ready for work. Because no matter what the economy looks like, trucks are going to be rolling on the roads.”  

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