Category Archives: Sweetwater

Agility, fitness important for TSTC Wind Energy students

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Climbing a wind turbine is not as easy as it looks.

First-year students in Texas State Technical College’s Wind Energy Technology program are getting in shape for such climbs. Over the first two weeks of the semester, students had to stretch and prepare their bodies for the remainder of the program.

“We have stretched a lot to begin the program,” said Hunter Anglin, of Roscoe. “I started working out some before beginning school. I am happy I did that now.”

Anglin’s stepfather works for a crane company that is used by wind turbine crews in West Texas.

“He has taken me out there a few times in the past, and I was always fascinated by what I saw,” Anglin said.

He said the best advice his stepfather gave him was to go to college.

“He told me that I need to know what I am doing. He said it would be better to get a job knowing something than going in and not knowing anything,” Anglin said.

Evan Cheyne, of Jayton, said he is also preparing himself for future climbs. Knowing that he would need to be in shape was something he learned during a TSTC highlight day at Aspermont High School last spring.

The Wind Energy Technology department allowed students from Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties to rappel down the mobile lab. It was part of a highlight day announcing the scholarship opportunity funded by California-based BayWa r.e. Wind.

“I talked to my counselors, and they told me about the scholarship. I was able to go down the tower, and I loved it,” he said. “If I did not get the scholarship, I probably would not be able to attend school.”

Cheyne said he liked how current TSTC students presented themselves in Aspermont. He added that was another reason why he chose to attend TSTC.

“Everyone has been quite accepting of the students. The third- and fourth-semester students have been helpful with anything we need,” he said.

Both students are looking forward to the program, knowing that at some point they will be able to climb turbines.

“I have to be in good shape to do that, so working out now is important,” Cheyne said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC students learn to use a robotic arm with Lincoln Logs

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Electromechanical Technology program begin the day using an unusual combination: Lincoln Logs and a robotic arm.

During lab sessions, students practice moving a robotic arm through a log structure to drop a pin from its perch. The goal is to move the pin without knocking over any of the logs. It is one of the best ways for students to focus on the tasks ahead, said instructor Jeff Olney.

“I have always been interested in learning how machines work,” said Noah Grant, a first-year student from Snyder.

Grant focused intently as he maneuvered the robotic arm through the small opening to drop the pin, but he admitted that it took him time to get the hang of it.

“It was a little strange setting it up, but once you get in the groove, it is fun and exciting,” he said. “I wanted to stay after class and work on it some more.”

During the program, which is available at the Sweetwater campus exclusively, students will combine computers with control, electrical and mechanical systems that can be used to power machines in a variety of industries.

Kristopher Talamantes, a U.S. Air Force veteran from San Angelo, had some prior knowledge in the field. He was an electrician in the military before beginning classes at TSTC.

“I figured since I was out of the military, this would be the next step for me. It is in the same field I was working in, and this will help me expand my knowledge,” he said.

Talamantes toured TSTC in high school but opted for a career in the military. He knew that TSTC would be an option to further his education after his service.

“I was excited to come to school,” he said. “We started using the robotic arm on the first day. I was ready to come back to class and do it again.”

Talamantes said he looks forward to learning about all aspects of Electromechanical Technology.

“This is going to prepare me for working with the robot, as well as teaching me patience,” he said. “I am looking forward to learning how things work.”

As for choosing a career, students will have options after graduation. Grant said he would like to work in an electrical substation or a manufacturing plant.

“I think it would be pretty fun to design and sell machines,” he said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC student looks to break into male-dominated industry

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Leslie Shubert, of Abilene, knows she is entering a male-dominated industry.

Shubert is beginning her first semester in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program in Sweetwater.

“I know there are not many females in this field,” she said. “I think that is because there are a lot of heavy-duty aspects to the job. The males are stronger, but women can do the job if they set their mind to it.”

Shubert has always had an interest in big trucks. Her uncle operated a big rig, and Shubert rode along with him during his travels.

“He would never let me drive it,” she said.

A relative told her about the program at TSTC.

“He told me about the instructors and labs, and it sounded like something I wanted to do.”

Shubert said her family’s support while attending TSTC will be important.

“They are supporting me daily since I have to drive here from Abilene and then back again,” she said. “They know while I am at home there will be a lot of reading during the semester. I know I will have to pay attention to all the details while taking the online courses.”

Shubert was able to begin lab sessions this week and is looking forward to one area of work in particular.

“I really like working on engines. I can’t wait to disassemble and then assemble an engine,” she said. “I enjoy figuring out how things work.”

That started at a young age.

“I helped my dad rebuild a truck engine from scratch,” she said. “I knew then that I wanted to do this for a living. I have always liked tinkering with things.”

Once she completes the program, Shubert has a career goal in mind.

“I would like to either be a shop manager or own my own truck,” she said. “I have always liked trucks and even tractors. I know that working on them will be fun.”

Shubert hopes more women look into the diesel field. She did offer women some advice before pursuing it as a career.

“Do a lot of research. That is the most important thing before selecting any career,” she said.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC celebrates 50 years in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When classes begin at Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus on Monday, Aug. 31, it will mark 50 years of service in West Texas.

On Sept. 1, 1970, the first classes at the former Texas State Technical Institute Rolling Plains campus were held in Sweetwater. The college offered seven day courses and eight night courses during the first year. Today, TSTC offers associate degrees in eight different programs at the campus.

TSTC Chancellor and CEO Mike Reeser has a special affinity for the Sweetwater campus.

“I had the honor of serving 10 years at the Sweetwater location of TSTC. So, I know firsthand how the Sweetwater campus reflects the peerless work ethic and the friendly nature of the people who make West Texas a very special place,” he said. “Want to find the ethos that defines the state of Texas? Go to TSTC in Sweetwater.”

The Sweetwater community began working on plans to request a campus in 1969. The Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce, on May 2, 1969, listed as its top priority that a vocational-training school be built at the former air base in Sweetwater.

“We feel that this is a must for this area and that it would fill a definite need,” wrote Wade E. Forester, chamber president, to then Texas Gov. Preston Smith. “We are looking at the surrounding areas and feel that this would turn the tide concerning the many problems that the West Texas area is facing in reference to industrial development and training.”

Since its inception, the Sweetwater campus’ mission of training students for the Texas workforce has not changed. 

Texas State Rep. Stan Lambert recently voiced his appreciation for TSTC’s value to the area and the state.

“Thank you, TSTC, for 50 years of service and partnership in our community. Never straying from your original goal of ‘training Texans to work in Texas,’ you provided so many opportunities for rural residents to enhance the Texas workforce,” Lambert said. “I am proud to partner with you and look forward to seeing what TSTC in Sweetwater accomplishes in the next 50 years.”

Texas State Sen. Charles Perry, a native of Sweetwater, is also proud of the services provided at TSTC.

“Both employers and employees have benefited from the commitment to train and place tomorrow’s workforce to meet the needs of our growing state,” Perry said. “The model of ‘we don’t get paid unless the employee gets paid’ is one that maximizes taxpayers’ resources. TSTC’s legacy of providing the community a skilled workforce, and the families that workforce represents, is worthy of recognition and continuation of the state of Texas’ investment and support.”

Officials from Sweetwater and Nolan County also know the importance of the local campus.

“I took computer classes at TSTC 30 years ago,” said Sweetwater Mayor Jim McKenzie. “The importance of TSTC has not changed to our community and state since it first opened 50 years ago.”

Nolan County Judge Whitley May said the college has been and will continue to be an asset.

“TSTC has been a huge asset for our county and trade industry for years. It has helped people get jobs since it opened,” he said. “I look forward to another 50 years of TSTC in Nolan County.”

Ken Becker, executive director of the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development Municipal Development District, said TSTC’s progression in Sweetwater is “quite amazing.”

“In this day and age, the ability to train workers for the marketplace and creating a talent pipeline is very important in economic development. We have a shortage of skilled labor for different sectors that can’t wait four to six years for a student to go through a program and graduate,” Becker said. 

“Companies have different entry points, and the ability of a person to go from student to productive employee in one to three semesters has provided a quicker pipeline of skilled workers,” he continued. “Just like inventories, we need just-in-time skilled workers to fill the talent gaps as companies retool to compete in an ever-changing business environment. Sweetwater is fortunate that community leaders some 50-plus years ago fought for TSTI to be located at historic Avenger Field, home of the WASP training.”

The first director of the campus was Elmer Kuntz, and J.N. Baker replaced him in January 1970. D.A. “Bill” Pevehouse was named the campus’ manager of instruction. Later in 1970, a name that would become a fixture for the campus was hired. Homer K. Taylor, who was an assistant principal at Sweetwater High School, joined TSTI as the campus’ assistant manager.

According to TSTC archives, 101 students were enrolled full time and 50 students were enrolled in evening classes during the first trimester.

When the first academic year ended, 43 students made up the graduation class. During the ceremony, TSTI President Roy Dugger announced the naming of the automotive building for Wade Forester, a Sweetwater auto dealer and businessman.

By 1973, the Sweetwater campus was considered one of the fastest-growing technical-vocational schools in the state.

“The old days of simply being willing to work have passed, and now during the technical age it is imperative that quality, trained technicians and craftsmen meet the entry requirements for the demanding need of business and industry,” Taylor said in an Aug. 5, 1973, San Angelo Standard Times article.

By 1975, TSTI graduated 446 students from one-year programs and another 1,494 from other special instructional courses.

With more student interest, state officials took notice and dedicated $1.9 million for a construction project in 1977. The project included a building for the new diesel mechanic program, which started in 1980. In 1979, funding for apartments to house 96 students was approved by TSTI’s regents.

The campus’ second decade began with more construction as $4.2 million was approved by Gov. Bill Clements for expansion. The funding included a vocational technology building for licensed vocational nursing, dental assistant, advanced emergency medical technician training and electronics. A graphics technology building and physical plant were also funded by the state. The vocational building was named for Pevehouse, who died in 1981.

In 1997, the Student Center opened its doors to the college and community. Many events, from banquets and fashion shows to fundraisers and job fairs, have been held in the facility over the years.

The campus has hosted many visitors over the years, including state and national officials. Former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, Gov. Dolph Briscoe, Gov. Mark White, U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, and even a group of U.S. Marines who trained on diesel engines have walked the campus grounds.

One person who traversed the campus since it opened was Taylor, who was named the campus’ president in 1999. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2006. He was honored by the college when it named  the main entrance to campus Homer K. Taylor Drive.

During his more than 36 years with the college, Taylor saw the Sweetwater campus grow and in 1991 witnessed TSTI undergo a name change to TSTC. He kept the mission of training Texans for the workforce a top priority.

“The practicality of TSTC has been the real reason many of our graduates have been successfully placed in a job,” Taylor said in a 2006 interview.

Taylor’s replacement in Sweetwater and West Texas was Reeser. Under Reeser’s leadership, TSTC has continued the mission of “placing more Texans in great-paying jobs.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC helps Nursing graduate achieve career goal

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Jere Lowe, of Bryson, had a career goal.

Due to unforeseen circumstances in her life, Lowe put her dream of being a traveling nurse on hold to take care of her family. When an opportunity to pursue her goal opened, Lowe enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Nursing program.

The longtime licensed vocational nurse is a candidate for graduation this summer through TSTC’s licensed vocational nurse transition to registered nurse (LVN to RN) program.

“I had some things happen in my life, and I had to take care of that first,” said Lowe, who has been an LVN for 22 years.

Prior to enrolling at TSTC, Lowe lived through the death of her first husband due to the swine flu pandemic. She later remarried, and her current husband is being treated for cancer.

She found the time to take classes, work at Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro and care for her husband.

Through it all, Lowe said it was her husband’s encouragement to reach her goal that inspired her to become an RN.

“I want to thank my husband. This has been a four-year journey for us. The last two years, we have not been able to travel. It has all been me in school,” she said.

Lowe plans to remain in Jacksboro until she can become a traveling nurse. She knows nursing agencies look to hire people who have at least one year of RN experience. Lowe is also planning to further her education in the future.

The traveling nurse concept began in response to the nursing shortage in the U.S. Lowe said she hopes to work for an agency that will send her to help people in need. 

“It is a great way to see America, get paid and, most importantly, help people,” she said.

Lowe was drawn to a nursing career at a young age. When she was a child, a family member was a nurse.

“She would walk in back when (nurses) wore the dresses and hats. I was hooked,” she said. “I knew then I wanted to help people. I wanted to give them the peace that everything was going to be OK.”

Lowe said completing the hybrid classes that combined online classes and in-person clinicals at TSTC helped her at home. She was able to work and care for her husband and help in the hospital’s emergency room.

“The instructors were always there, maybe a little too much,” she said. “I remember texting one of my instructors at 2 or 3 in the morning after getting off from work. I was surprised they would respond to me that late.”

Lowe said that type of dedication is what the nursing field is about.

“We know we have to be ready to work at any time. It is a 24/7 job for us,” she said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Nursing student wants to help others

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Rising Star’s Crystal Funderburk has a passion for helping others.

Funderburk’s passion led her to Texas State Technical College to further her education. She is a candidate to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing this summer.

“I am a 33-year-old mom of three boys, and I have a passion to help others. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I was an LVN and decided to further my education to become an RN.”

She said attending TSTC opened doors for her in the nursing field. During her final semester, Funderburk talked to several clinics in the region and is exploring job options.

“I am keeping all of my doors open, especially in the times we are living in,” she said.

Funderburk commended the Sweetwater faculty for helping her and other students throughout the program.

“They are aware of everything that is going on around the students. They will extend a hand to help you with anything, both in class and away from school,” she said. “That made going to class and attending clinicals easier for me.”

While the program was demanding, Funderburk said the instructors made it “smooth sailing.”

“Academically, you could lean on the instructors for assistance at any time,” she said. “The coursework is laid out where we could understand things. The instructors set it up that way so we could all succeed.”

Funderburk, who grew up in Glen Rose, said her passion for helping others is a way of life for many nurses. She knows the profession is in the spotlight today and hopes more people join her on the front line.

“There is a huge caseload of testing and helping people now. But for nurses, this is a way of life,” she said. “With all of the testing going on and people being treated, there needs to be more hands on deck to help people. Many hospitals are short-staffed right now.”

Funderburk is ready to be part of the front line.

“Anything I can do to help the work flow easier, I will do it,” she said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC offers Basic Automotive OSA program in Sweetwater

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – A fast-track program to teach basic automotive skills will be taught at Texas State Technical College this fall.

Sweetwater Automotive Technology instructor Gerod Strother will teach the 15-week Occupational Skills Award (OSA) program. The OSA is part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“This class will teach students the basics that can get them a job that pays $10 to $15 per hour,” Strother said. “People who have this certification can find employment at a quick-service automotive business or at a dealership where they can be paired with a veteran mechanic.”

Strother said this program would be especially helpful for a student who completes the program and works at a dealership. They would gain the knowledge to expand their skills.“They would probably work with the mechanic for six months to a year. Once the mechanic is confident in their abilities, they would add to the employee’s responsibilities.”

Strother said students interested in the program do not need any mechanical experience.

“They need to be willing to learn quickly,” he said.

Students will begin by taking Introduction to Automotive Technology. This course focuses on automotive history, safety practices, shop equipment and tools, vehicle subsystems, service publications, professional responsibilities and basic automotive maintenance.

“Some people only want to know the basics and get a job. This will help fill our workforce needs in the automotive industry,” Strother said.

Students will also take the Automotive Brake Systems course, in which they will learn the operation and repair of the braking system. Strother will review brake theory, diagnosis, repairing the power anti-lock braking system, and parking brakes.

The final course will be Automotive Suspension and Steering Systems. In addition to steering systems, students will learn alignment procedures, and tire and wheel service techniques.

“A lot of people do not want to be tied down to one specific area of a vehicle, like the transmission. This program will provide some range for students,” Strother said.

One goal that Strother set for himself is to have students return to earn additional certification or an Associate of Applied Science degree.

“I hope once they complete the program they come back and want to learn more. I would like to see students become certified,” he said. “Having the Automotive Service Excellence certification will open the door for them.”

TSTC is offering several Occupational Skills Award programs this fall. With unemployment increasing in Texas, TSTC is partnering with business and industry through the RISE program to get Texans back to work. The short-term, skills-focused courses provide students with the ability to gain basic technical skills to start an entry-level career.

For more information on the Occupational Skills Award courses, visit

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Safety top priority at TSTC this fall

(ABILENE, Texas) – Safety will be the top priority at Texas State Technical College when the fall semester begins Aug. 31.

The four West Texas campuses, located in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater, will have a different look this year. Students who need to complete labs will be allowed on campus, but all other instruction will be delivered online.

“Our primary goal is the safety of our students, faculty and staff in this era of COVID-19,” said Lance Eastman, West Texas’ interim provost. “We have put in several safety measures to ensure that safety.”

Everyone must wear a facial covering while on campus, and social distancing guidelines will be enforced, Eastman said.

“I know it is hard sometimes to maintain social distance. But for the safety of everyone, we are going to practice it,” he said. “We not only want the students, faculty and staff to protect themselves, but everyone around them.”

Buildings will be marked with directional signage to show entrances and exits. Hand-sanitizing stations will also be available in each building.

Since March, TSTC has provided online lectures for students, and Eastman said it will continue in the fall. In May, students were allowed to return to campus to complete lab sessions.

Eastman said continuing to provide hands-on lab sessions is important to the college’s mission of placing people in the workforce.

“We will still do a lot of the hands-on lab sessions because it is important the students get that training,” he said.

Daniel Martin, TSTC’s director of student recruiting in West Texas, said students are excited about the new way of learning.

“The students are pleased with how the courses are being constructed. The online lectures, coupled with lab time, are perfect for them,” he said. “This is a better use of a student’s time. It is not a classroom-heavy situation for them.”

Martin said prospective students will also be able to tour campuses, but with limitations. Tours must be reserved and will be limited to three guests per tour.

“We are excited to get people back on our campuses to show students what we offer,” he said. “We had some tours during the summer, and everyone followed all of the protocols we had in place.”

In Sweetwater, safety is also the top priority for housing director Jose Navarrette. Since it is the only West Texas campus with student housing, additional safety measures are in place.

Navarrette said each student will have a private bedroom but share a bathroom. He said students will learn the proper way to sanitize the area to help prevent the spread of contagions.

“We will have room checks to make sure all the rules are being followed,” he said. “We had some students living on campus this summer, and everyone followed all the rules.”

Navarrette said students were assigned days to move in prior to Aug. 31. He said that was done to help limit the amount of people on campus.

“Safety is the key for us. We want students to know that we have things in place for their safety and the safety of everyone on campus,” he said.

Rick Nelson, supervisor of TSTC food services in Sweetwater, said meals will continue to be sold only to go. Students will enter the Student Center’s main entrance and leave through the cafeteria’s glass-door exit.

TSTC will also provide three new programs in West Texas this fall.

In Breckenridge, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology will be offered. Students will learn the hazards of machines, safe work methods, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures during the five semesters.

Two Occupational Skills Award programs are scheduled this fall. Basic Welding – Multiple Processes will be available in Abilene, while Basic Automotive will be taught in Sweetwater. Both courses will be 15 weeks and are part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“It is always good to provide new programs at TSTC,” Eastman said. “We want to provide our students with the tools to prepare them for the workforce. The OSA programs will allow us to quickly educate students to get them to work. That will help better our economy.”

To schedule a campus tour, contact Chris Johnson, TSTC’s lead recruiter for West Texas, at

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Eastman works to help TSTC students achieve success

(ABILENE, Texas) – Lance Eastman, Texas State Technical College’s West Texas interim provost and senior vice president of Student Learning, works to make sure that students meet the college’s goal.

“I really like our mantra, ‘Place Texans in great-paying jobs.’ It’s simple. We have really worked hard to live up to our mantra,” he said.

Eastman, who was named interim provost in May, is working with the college’s leadership, faculty and staff on a competency-based learning schedule for students. He is no stranger to the learning approach because it was used at his previous place of employment, Davis Technical College in Kaysville, Utah.

“At TSTC, we are working to have flexibility and to allow students to schedule classes around their life. Studies have shown that it works,” Eastman said. “With this type of program, retention is much better.”

Prior to arriving at TSTC more than two years ago, Eastman served as director of the manufacturing and transportation programs at Davis Technical College. He also taught an industrial maintenance class.

His love for electronics came while watching “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.”

“Seeing Luke Skywalker’s hand got me into electronics,” he said of the movie scene in which Skywalker’s missing hand is replaced with a robotic one.

Eastman once worked in the private sector in industrial maintenance. But when a teaching position opened, he turned to educating young minds.

“Teaching is nothing more than transferring knowledge,” he said. “I am the kind of person who would want to put a button on something to try and make it work. I want to pass that knowledge on to others.”

He learned about TSTC through a job posting showing an opening for the vice president position. He had confidence that he would be picked, telling his wife, Beckie, that he was going to apply for the job and his family “will move to Texas.”

Eastman said during the entire interview process, he remained confident that he would be selected for the position.

“I kept telling my wife they are going to hire me,” he said.

Since his hiring, Eastman said he has been welcomed by not only the TSTC family, but also the Abilene community. His oldest daughter, Sydney, recently completed a church mission in Idaho, and his youngest daughter, Brooklyn, is a senior at Wylie High School in Abilene.

“I love the people of Texas,” Eastman said, admitting that his only stop in Texas prior to an in-person interview at TSTC was a flight layover in Dallas. “This is a fantastic place to live.”

In his spare time, which he said he does not have much of, Eastman enjoys fishing, gardening and church activities.

“My wife and I have also spent a lot of hanging with the kids and their friends. They like to play cards with us because they think they can beat us,” he said with a laugh.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Tour leads Trujillo to TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Juan Trujillo thought about becoming a doctor. But after touring Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus, he changed his mind.

Trujillo said the Diesel Equipment Technology program caught his attention.

After deciding not to focus on medicine as a career, he turned to his first love: vehicles. He will graduate in the fall with an Associate of Applied Science degree, but he has future plans in mind.

“I want to go back to college and get my business degree. I want to open my own business,” he said. “I know I will have a job. How do they get the windmills out here? Diesel. How does Walmart get things to the stores? Diesel. Diesel moves the world.”

Trujillo, a graduate of Grape Creek High School in San Angelo, said he was impressed with the automotive industry because his father drives trucks across the country.

“I have always loved vehicles. I love to work on my own vehicles,” he said of his 2000 Chevrolet Corvette and 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3 motorcycle.

His passion for vehicles also grew by watching a certain movie franchise.

“I grew up watching the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies and have loved cars. I wanted to start working on them,” he said. “My dad would always let me help him work on the trucks. He would let me change things or tighten stuff. I learned to enjoy it.”

The one difference Trujillo sees during his lab sessions and working on his Corvette is easy to describe.

“These trucks are a lot different from gas engines. Plus, the equipment is heavier,” he said.

Trujillo said the best part of the TSTC program is working in the labs.

“We can read in the textbook all day, but getting in there and working on the trucks is the best thing. I like to put the things I learned from the books to use,” he said. “The labs are like having a job. The instructors are always there, willing to help you.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to