Category Archives: Sweetwater

California Company Gives Money for TSTC Wind Energy Scholarships

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Carlsbad, California-based BayWa r.e. Wind has given $157,500 to Texas State Technical College’s Sweetwater campus to provide scholarships to students in three area counties.

Fifteen students graduating this year in Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties — five from each county — will be eligible for the $10,500 Amadeus Wind Energy Scholarship to study in TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program in Sweetwater.

“This is a huge opportunity,” said Daniel Martin, TSTC’s student recruitment director for the West Texas campuses. “The scholarship is covering nearly 100 percent of their tuition costs. They should not have a reason to leave TSTC with any debt.”

Martin said TSTC has good relationships with the four high schools in the counties.

“We are not just there to recruit their students,” he said. “We are there to be helpful in the education process.”

Students receiving scholarships can take advantage of a growing career field. The number of wind turbine technicians is projected to grow to 10,300 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobs have a nationwide median annual wage of more than $54,300, according to the agency.

The scholarship is named for the Amadeus Wind Project, which will encompass land in Fisher, Kent and Stonewall counties. The project is expected to have more than 90 wind turbines, according to information filed with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Construction is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

TSTC offers a wind energy technician certificate and Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology in Sweetwater.

TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program and BayWa r.e. Wind will host a Program Highlight Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, at Aspermont High School in Stonewall County. Students from Jayton, Roby and Rotan high schools are also scheduled to attend.

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Sweetwater Company Continues Financial Support for TSTC Veteran-Students

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – A Sweetwater company continues to provide scholarship dollars to military veterans studying at Texas State Technical College.

EMA Electromechanics, an international maker of equipment for the clean wind energy sector, has given $150,000 since 2015 for the Sweetwater Veterans’ Funds for College Education.

Company president Eduardo Montich recently presented TSTC with a $75,000 check, putting their total commitment for scholarships at $225,000.  

The scholarship funds have helped veterans complete their technical education at TSTC’s campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

“We are truly humbled by EMA’s generosity and desire to support veterans at TSTC’s West Texas campuses,” said Beth Wooten, chief executive officer of The TSTC Foundation. “Inspiring partnerships like this change lives. We are forever grateful to have the opportunity to work together on such a worthy cause.”

Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC’s West Texas campuses, said the company is an exceptional industry partner that not only sees value in TSTC graduates, but also supports them through their EMA veteran scholarship. He said the fund allows veterans to achieve their educational dreams when otherwise their college education might not be an option.

“We are deeply appreciative of EMA’s continued support of veterans enrolled at TSTC’s West Texas campuses,” he said.

EMA Electromechanics was founded in 1952 in Argentina. The company’s VDH Series Vacuum Circuit Breaker was first sold in the United States in 2003. The company began its American operations in 2010 in Sweetwater.

“EMA believes if it weren’t for our veterans, their company would have been unable to locate, operate and flourish in our fine country,” said Gail Lawrence, TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief of staff to the chancellor. “Our partnership with EMA is incredibly important and serves to further our mission and commitment to supply a highly skilled workforce for Texas industries and this region.”

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TSTC to Offer Paramedic Program in Spring

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Texas State Technical College will offer a certificate and an associate of applied science degree in Emergency Medical Services Paramedic at the Brownwood campus beginning next semester. 


“We are very excited to offer the paramedic program at the Brownwood campus and believe this will be a great opportunity for local community members,” Andy Weaver,  TSTC director of EMS and division director of Allied Health Services, said. 


While the paramedic program was offered at the Brownwood campus over 10 years ago, TSTC phased it out due to lack of interest. With rising job demand and need for those with paramedic licenses, the program has been brought back. 


“There is a huge need in this community for paramedics, and now we can fill that need and allow our students to further their career path in their hometown area without having to commute or transfer,” Stephen Sharp, instructor for EMS at the Brownwood campus, said. 


TSTC is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs and recently received approval to teach the paramedic program at the Brownwood campus. 


“We are so excited and ready for this program to get started. We have the right staff and the right equipment to serve these students at the highest standard,” Weaver said. 


The paramedic program is now offered at the Abilene, Brownwood and Harlingen campuses.


Sharp encourages anyone interested in attending the paramedic program at the Brownwood campus to attend an information session hosted every Tuesday at 2 p.m.


“My door is always open to provide information about this career field because it such a rewarding field. If you feel called to this line of work and are ready to work hard and help people, we want you,” Sharp said. 


Registration for the Spring 2020 semester is underway. For more information about TSTC, go online at

Texas State Technical College will offer a paramedic program in spring of 2020 at the Brownwood campus. 


TSTC Students Volunteer With Houses for Healing

(ABILENE, Texas) – When someone is in need, you can count on Texas State Technical College students to answer the call. 


On Friday morning, more than 25 TSTC students, faculty and staff, along with some of their family members, volunteered their time with local nonprofit organization Houses for Healing. 


Houses for Healing provides free temporary housing to those who are receiving medical treatment away from home.


Michael Leroux, coordinator of Student Retention Services for TSTC’s West Texas campuses, said he was more than happy to partner with the organization. 


“I think that it is important that the school gives back to the community it is part of, and it’s important for the students to experience this,” Leroux said. “When we decided to work with Houses for Healing, I discovered the founder, Brian Massey, is a TSTC alum. So I think this makes it an even better opportunity for the students to see someone who has gone through what they have and to learn from him.”


Massey graduated in 1991 from the Sweetwater campus after earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automation Robotics. Following a successful career, he felt called to do something else with his skills.


“We are supposed to love our neighbor, really love them. And after talking and praying about it with our church, we decided this would be how we would embrace that charge,” he said. 


Massey said Houses for Healing plans to construct 20 mini-houses total, one for each county of the Big Country, plus a home specifically for veterans. The organization has four homes completed.


TSTC welding student Daniel Trevino said it was a great opportunity to get involved in the community.


“I love doing stuff like this. After learning what this company was about, it makes me feel even better to be here,” he said. 


The volunteers worked from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., clearing away debris and a fallen structure, as well as gutting the interior of an older home on the property. The land is where the next 16 homes will be built.  


For aviation maintenance student Omar Alvarez and welding student Curtis Sonstegard, it was a day to meet fellow classmates while doing some good. 


“We get to help people who need it. Of course we wanted to be here, and it’s great to be meeting other students and working with our hands,” Alvarez said.  


As the event finished, TSTC students and employees alike agreed it was the perfect way to spend a Friday morning.    


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Some Texas State Technical College students and employees, along with some of their family members, volunteered their time with Houses for Healing Friday morning.


TSTC Welding Program Meets Industry Need

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The welding program at Texas State Technical College is training and educating highly skilled welders quickly to continue to meet industry demand. 

Texas has the highest employment level for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And demand is expected to keep growing.

“The students come in and earn a Certification Level 1 – Structural Welding in three semesters and are trained in various welds like MIG, TIG, flux-core, stick, oxy-fuel, brazing and more,” Taylor Elston, welding instructor at the Sweetwater campus, said.

As students near graduation, Elston spends time with each one figuring out their career plans and caters to their education with that in mind.

“About the third semester, we’ll start asking the students which type of welding they enjoy most and where they want to live and what kind of job they want. Because in welding there are so many specializations, they can have a choice of where they end up,” Elston said. “So, once we learn what they really want to do, we’ll help them start preparing for that weld test so they can get the job they want.”  

One of the biggest appeals to the welding program for student Kelton Grigsby was TSTC’s proximity to industry and dedication to job placement.

“I want to work in Lubbock, and TSTC is close to those industry leaders. There is a big need for welders. I have family in welding, so I know how lucrative welding can be,” Grigsby said. 

Grigsby began welding in high school. After graduating from Godley High School in 2018, he decided to attend TSTC. 

Clint Faulkner also chose the welding program for career growth opportunities.

“My dad and I have been building metal buildings, carports and other structures for the past four years, and it was important that I get a refresher on my welding and get the technical skills here,” Faulkner said. 

After a nine-year career in truck driving, Faulkner, a Big Spring native, decided he needed a career that was more physically active. 

Grigsby and Faulkner are expected to earn their certificates and graduate in August.

TSTC students spend a majority of their time in the lab with hands-on practice to ensure the technical skills, but Elston says the college is also dedicated to ensuring that students are job-ready.

“With the TSTC Career Services team helping us, we really make sure the students have not only the quality education, but also the soft skills like resumes and job etiquette,”  Elston said. “We make them treat school like their job; they have to show up and show up on time. So when they graduate they won’t just be good welders, but also good employees.” 

Elston encourages anyone interested in the program to come to the campus and schedule a tour.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information about TSTC, go online at

Texas State Technical College students at the Sweetwater campus practice their welding skills to prepare for high demand careers.

TSTC Student Veteran First in Family to Graduate College

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – When Texas State Technical College student veteran, Juan Lopez decided to go back to school, he didn’t realize the new, literal heights he would reach with his degree. 

Lopez, from San Antonio, is a student in the Wind Energy Technology program and is expected to graduate in August 2019 with his Associate of Applied Science degree. Before graduating, Lopez has already started working in the field for Airway Services, Inc. as a wind technician scaling 300-feet-tall wind turbines.  

“I drove past wind turbines a lot and always wondered about them, but I had no clue that there was a job that let you climb 300 feet up to work on them. Once I did more research into the program, it seemed right up my ally with all the maintenance, problem solving and working with my hands,” Lopez said. 

Before starting at TSTC, Lopez served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2012. After the military, he worked in the oil field but decided he needed more job security. .

“Wind turbines are right in my backyard, the work is steady and the money is good. I can be close to home and provide for my wife and daughter,” Lopez said. 

Lopez says his 10-month-old daughter was a large part of the reason why he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. 

“There’s a sense of accomplishment for me, but also I want to do it for her to give her the best I can,” he said. 

Lopez’s dedication to his school work was obvious to instructors Ron Rendon and Mary Madden, both Navy veterans.

Juan was one of my best students;  always on time, assignments were always completed on time.  He was a mentor to several students, and has a great work ethic, always going above and beyond in every aspect,” Rendon, instructor for wind turbine technology said. 

As classes went on, Lopez found out he shared more than just veteran status with Madden –  they had served on the same aircraft carrier – the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). 

“Juan and I spent some time remembering life on board ship and compared notes on tours we both made overseas,” Madden, instructor for electromechanical technology said. “He is a hard worker, and he wants to take care of his family.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Wind Energy Association based in Washington DC, Wind Turbine Technology is “the fastest growing job in America.”  Lopez says he is trying to recruit his military and oil field friends to come check out the wind program.

“I mean there’s nothing quite like it when you’re getting to work that high up. And, you’ve got a real chance to move up in the company with the degree from TSTC,” Lopez said.

Lopez encourages prospective students to stay motivated and find what will drive them to succeed. 

Fall Semester registration is ongoing right now. For more information about TSTC, log on to


Juan Lopez is a TSTC Wind Energy Technology student veteran working for Airway Services, Inc. He is expected to graduate August 2019.

TSTC Employee Recognized for 35 Years of Service

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Sweetwater native Glen Bedgood was recently recognized for his exceptional 35 years of service to Texas State Technical College during TSTC’s Employee Appreciation Day. 

Since graduating from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University-Commerce, as a double major in computer science and commercial art, Bedgood has spent his professional career serving the students and employees of TSTC. 

“I just felt, and still feel, like this place was my calling. After I graduated college, I came back home to Sweetwater, and it all just fell into place that I should be at TSTC,” Bedgood said. 

Although Bedgood serves as the senior internal systems analyst for TSTC Human Resources, he has worn many hats during his time at TSTC. He says each job has allowed him a rare chance to understand all the roles at the college and helped him better relate to his TSTC teammates. 

His dedication to efficiency and putting the ‘human’ in human resources has made him stand out to his co-workers over the years. 

“35 years — what an exceptional milestone! Glen has held many positions at TSTC, and his success is due to his attention to detail, job knowledge, and ability to communicate with all he interacts with,” TSTC Provost Rick Denbow said. 

To one employee in particular, watching Bedgood receive his 35-year plaque was a very special moment. 

Jacob Bedgood, Glen Bedgood’s son and a TSTC graphic designer, said the moment put into perspective how much his father has dedicated to the college. 

“Having grown up only ever knowing my dad to be a TSTC employee, it doesn’t always hit me just how much of his life and his energy he’s devoted to this organization,” he said. “It’s certainly a lot to live up to, both as a son and as a fellow employee. But I’m fortunate to have him setting that example for me. I’m definitely proud of him.”

One of Glen Bedgood’s favorite things about working at TSTC is the opportunity to make a positive change in a person’s life. 

“There is something about sharing knowledge and teaching that is just really fun, and I love it. I truly believe in the mission here at TSTC and seeing students succeed,” he said.

While 35 years may sound like a long time, Bedgood has no intention of leaving anytime soon. 

“As long as I am doing good for the college and can make a difference, I don’t know why I would ever leave. This is a job I love,” Bedgood said. 

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Glen Bedgood was recently recognized for his 35 years of service to Texas State Technical College.

TSTC Hosts Stop the Bleed Training

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Texas State Technical College recently partnered with local first responders to host Stop the Bleed training for students, faculty and staff at its campuses in Abilene and Sweetwater.

Stop the Bleed is a national campaign initiated by the National Security Council to better prepare the public to save lives and raise awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following emergencies or disasters.

TSTC police patrolman Jeff Miller learned about the campaign during a training exercise and thought it was vital to share with TSTC students and employees.

“This course’s key message is training everyday people to save lives because there is nothing more sad than a preventable death,” Miller said.

The course takes about 90 minutes, including a formal presentation and hands-on practice of direct-pressure application, wound packing and tourniquet use.

“We are bringing this to TSTC to educate on bleeding control. This program is specifically designed for everyday people to be able to save lives in case of a catastrophic accident, traffic accident or disaster of that nature,” Grant Madden, fire chief for Sweetwater Fire Department, said.

The Stop the Bleed training is free, and more than 500,000 people have been trained in almost 90 countries and all 50 states.

“This training is important, and we are coordinating it with the police department and the local first responders because the safety of our employees and students is paramount to us,” said Holle England, training supervisor with TSTC Employee Development.

After the training was completed, 18 Stop the Bleed personal bleeding control kits were left for TSTC to distribute throughout its campus buildings.

For more information about TSTC, log on to

Grant Madden, fire chief for Sweetwater Fire Department, shows TSTC employees how to use a tourniquet at Stop the Bleed training.


TSTC Student to Compete for Third Time at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – The saying goes that all good things come in threes, and Texas State Technical College nursing student Kacee Merrifield hopes that saying will ring true for her.

Merrifield will represent Texas and TSTC for the third time at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in late June.

A Mineral Wells native, Merrifield is enrolled in the LVN to RN Transition program and working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree. Previously she had earned a Vocational Nursing certificate from TSTC.

During her time at TSTC, Merrifield has competed at SkillsUSA three years in a row, winning state all three times and placing nationally twice.

“It’s a very validating feeling when you get to test your skills against others in your industry. But it’s so much more than just winning a medal,” Merrifield said.

SkillsUSA is a national partnership between students, teachers and industries working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

In 2017 Merrifield placed first in state for Health Knowledge Bowl, continuing on to win fourth place at nationals. In 2018 she won first place in state for Nurse Assisting and sixth at nationals. She competed in Practical Nursing this year and won first place.

“I really love SkillsUSA and what it does for me and for others. A big part of being a nurse is people skills, and at SkillsUSA you meet so many people and work with so many different personalities (that) you really get to practice that skill on top of all your other skills,” Merrifield said.

During the Practical Nursing competition, Merrifield will take both a written test and a hands-on test. She will work with a volunteer and perform various tasks.

“We practice everything from medications to vital signs to wound care and even what we would delegate to someone else; it’s a real-world environment,” she said.

With such an impressive record, it is no surprise that her instructors are proud of her.

Marchelle Taylor is TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program director in West Texas and the West Texas SkillsUSA coordinator.

“Kacee has been a huge success story in the TSTC nursing program,” Taylor said. “She has worked full time, attended classes and helped other contestants prepare for Skills competitions.  It is students with her dedication and work ethic that make teaching at TSTC such an honor.”

Merrifield says the best part of going to SkillsUSA nationals again is the chance to meet more people.

“My favorite thing has to be talking with other nursing students, learning what is different in each state and getting to learn more about this career field. SkillsUSA is really amazing. I really encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go,” Merrifield said.

She is expected to graduate in summer 2019.

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TSTC Student to Compete for Third Time at SkillsUSA Nationals

Kacee Merrifield, pictured above, is a three-time state champion in various nursing competitions for SkillsUSA. This year she will compete in Practical Nursing at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in late June. 

TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – From serving his country overseas to serving his local community, Texas State Technical College student James Phillips III has dedicated his life to helping others.

Phillips, a Big Spring native, is an Army veteran and a Vocational Nursing student at TSTC. He recently competed at the state-level SkillsUSA Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference, where he placed first in CPR Skills.

“I’m still kind of surprised I got first place. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was very excited,” Phillips said.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. More than 18,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the national event.

Phillips will represent Texas and TSTC at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 24-28.

Phillips was first introduced to CPR training during his time with the military. He enlisted in the Army in 1999 as a helicopter mechanic before serving in the Army’s Special Forces until 2008.

“We needed to know the basics of medical care and act as a first responder, so we learned CPR skills and other first-responder skills,” he said.

When Phillips is not at school or practicing for SkillsUSA, he is working as a certified nursing assistant at the George H. O’Brien Jr. VA Medical Center in Big Spring.

“It’s a way for me to give back to other veterans but also to be around other nurses and keep learning,” Phillips said.

Phillips stands out to his instructors and classmates not only as an excellent student, but also as the only male in the program.

“Bless his heart. He is the only guy in the class right now, so he’s very protective of the other students and a perfect gentleman. He has been a model student who goes above and beyond. I just can’t say enough good about him,” TSTC vocational nursing instructor Sharon Zetzman-Sparks said.

Being a male nurse is something Phillips knows may be uncommon, but he encourages anyone with a desire to help people to consider the career field.

“It’s something different every day. You keep learning new things, and there is a huge job demand. Being a nurse is very rewarding,” Phillips said.

Phillips is expected to graduate in fall 2019.

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TSTC Student Veteran to Compete at SkillsUSA Nationals

James Phillips III is an Army veteran and vocational nursing student at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. He will compete in CPR Skills at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.