Category Archives: Waco

TSTC student’s love of technology guides him to cybersecurity

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Zachary Powers is about to receive his Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity and has some sound advice for those about to embark on their college journey: Never give up.

The Sugar Land native said that his love of technology is what pointed him in the direction of TSTC’s hands-on program.

Why did you decide to attend TSTC?

I knew TSTC would provide me with the hands-on learning experience that is going to allow me to succeed.

Who was your biggest support system during your time in college?

My instructor, Mr. (Timothy) Janssen. There were times that I wanted to quit, but he would challenge me, and this led to me excelling in my coursework.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?

In the Personal Computer Hardware course, we would have computer teardown and repair build-offs, which challenged us to learn about each other and taught us to work together.

What advice would you give to somebody who is about to start their first semester in college?

No matter what life throws at you, never give up. Use all the resources available, do not be afraid to ask your instructors for help, and create study groups.

What will you do after you graduate from TSTC?

I hope to get a career started in cybersecurity. My goal is to eventually be employed by the National Weather Service as a meteorologist or a researcher to help improve early warning systems to prevent loss of life.

To learn more about TSTC, visit




Second Cohort of Tesla START Program Graduates at TSTC

(WACO, Texas) – The Tesla START training program at Texas State Technical College held a recognition ceremony earlier this fall for its second cohort of graduates.

The TSTC students began the 12-week training program in August to learn the skills necessary to become advanced electric vehicle technicians at Tesla. As a Tesla-paid hourly internship, the students developed technical expertise and earned certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning. 

All students who successfully complete the nationwide program are eligible to work at a Tesla Service Center in the United States. 

The program’s classes are held at the Kultgen Automotive Center on the Waco campus. 

“We are excited and proud of the second graduating class from the Tesla START program in Waco,” said Adam Barber, TSTC’s interim executive director of Workforce Training in Waco. “A couple of students are previous TSTC graduates, so that’s especially cool. We look forward to the next class and continued partnership with Tesla.”

Graduates from the program’s second cohort are Matthew Abel of Waco, Corey Broussard of Virginia, Alexander Burkman of Frisco, Jonathan Butler of McGregor, James Dawe of Grand Junction, Colorado; Eder Estrada of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pablo Hernandez of Fort Worth and Mohannad Naffaa of Waco. 

“These guys worked very hard, and they all got placed in good locations,” said Mark Tosto, a Tesla START program instructor. 

Waco’s second cohort started work at their assigned service centers in November. Butler is working at Air Impressions in Waco as an aircraft mechanic. 

Dawe split time growing up between Great Britain and Colorado and had an early interest in the environment and renewable energy. He learned about the Tesla program from YouTube. 

Some of Dawe’s favorite times in the program were shadowing workers on Fridays at Tesla’s service center in Dallas, and he and Abel working five days in Alabama in September during a company battery-charging project. Dawe said they helped charge batteries on hundreds of Tesla vehicles ready to be shipped to stores nationwide. Dawe and Abel also traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to deliver batteries.

“It was awesome to be thrown in the fire,” Dawe said.

Dawe began working in early November at Tesla’s service center in Littleton, Colorado.

Naffaa was born in Lebanon and came to Texas in 2014. He enrolled in 2018 at TSTC’s Waco campus to study Automotive Technology. He graduated with the program’s associate degree earlier this year.

Naffaa said his time at TSTC combines his passion for cars and his family’s interest in his study of engineering. 

“I learned a lot here,” he said. “I learned how the car works and about the functional parts. I also learned about the suspensions.”

Naffaa started work in early November at Tesla’s service center in Marietta, Georgia.

“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’s a big step.”

There are currently seven other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. The program launched in 2018 and has had more than 300 graduates to date.

The program’s 2021 cohorts in Waco are full, but interviews for 2022 cohorts are scheduled to be held later this year, Tosto said.

For more information on Tesla START, go to 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC Solar Energy Technology Program Ready to Meet Job Needs

(WACO, Texas) – As the old saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” 

That can also include solar farms.

Invenergy, a worldwide private sustainable energy company, plans to build what it claims will be the largest solar farm in the United States. The 1,310-megawatt Samson Solar Energy Center facility will be located in Northeast Texas and be fully operational in 2023. The facility is projected to produce energy for 300,000 homes, according to company information.

“Right now, solar is booming,” said Hugh Whitted, chair of Texas State Technical College’s Solar Energy and Electrical Construction department. “It has rebounded from the tariffs that were put into place a few years back. We have a lot of systems going in and the people that need the work done.”

The Samson Solar Energy Center project is expected to generate 600 construction jobs and 12 permanent jobs upon completion, according to information from Invenergy.

Texas’ solar industry employs more than 13,000 workers, according to the Texas Solar Power Association.

Jobs for solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow to more than 18,000 up to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth is attributed to an increased demand for usage and upkeep, and state and local governments offering incentives.

“I am getting emails usually at least a couple of times a month from solar and electrical contractors all over the place, most of them in and around the Metroplex or Austin to San Antonio,” said Whitted, who is based at TSTC’s Waco campus.

Holtek Fireplace and Solar in Waco began doing local solar work in 1999, said Holt Kelly, the company’s owner. The company does designs and sales, while an electrical contractor performs installations.

“Here in this market, it is spotty,” Kelly said. “We are a small company. I am picking and choosing.”

Kelly said businesses in the Waco area are not yet quite in tune with installing solar panels. But, he said homeowners have been using solar panels for years.

“Solar farms are great, but in my opinion solar is best used most efficiently at the point of use of power, the buildings where the energy is being used,” Kelly said.

Training for solar work means going into a career in the electrical field. TSTC’s students can pursue a “Triple Crown” consisting of an Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate, an Electrical Construction certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology.

“It (solar) is not an industry that is going to shrink, realistically,” Whitted said. “People are not going to stop putting in solar unless there is something better out there.”

Whitted said skills in basic mathematics and communication are needed for the solar field. It also helps not to be afraid of heights.

Kelly said people interested in the solar field should strive to become an electrical apprentice and journeyman.

“If you want to do that, you are in the construction business because that is a big part of installing the arrays,” he said. “If you do not want to be the boots on the roof, then learn how to design these things and learn as much engineering as you can.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC begins new holiday tradition

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College students are the heart of the “Culture of Caring” that TSTC prides itself on. Recently TSTC’s Advocacy and Resource Center in Fort Bend County gave Thanksgiving meals to some students to make their holiday a little cozier.

Advocacy and Resource Center coach Larissa Moreno discussed the importance of TSTC being there for students when they need it, and the start of a new tradition for TSTC in Fort Bend County.

Who received the Thanksgiving meals?

Several students who are attending TSTC in Fort Bend County received the meals. The groceries were free to the students and delivered by a local grocery store.

How did you decide who would be the recipients of the meals?

Several names were given to us by faculty and staff. We also utilized our own caseload.

Why did the Advocacy and Resource Center decide to give away Thanksgiving meals?

Part of TSTC’s Culture of Caring is to support and assist students who are food insecure. Hunger should not be an obstacle in reaching their academic goals.

Providing a Thanksgiving meal for students is a tradition I wanted to start for our campus. This year, we had groceries delivered to students so they could enjoy a safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving meal in their own home. When I speak to our students, they have such a positive attitude and are focused on getting their education. I want them to stay that way. I want our TSTC students to know that the Advocacy and Resource Center is here to help them if life throws them a curveball, or if they need assistance with food, child care, books or tools. We can find the resources.

The Advocacy and Resource Center is available to TSTC students who are in need of assistance on their collegiate journey. For more information, visit


TSTC Instructor Presents at National Conference

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Biomedical Equipment Technology instructor Garrett Seeley recently made two presentations at a nationwide conference for biomedical and health technology managers.

Seeley gave talks on managing cyberattacks and an introduction to digital imaging and communications in medicine at the MD Expo in Tampa, Florida. He said the topics have relevance now because of recent security threats affecting medical facilities in Abilene and Houston.

“Adaptability is what is going to make a biomed succeed,” Seeley said. “We are going to have to be innovative.”

Seeley said there are several reasons for cybersecurity attacks, including to create chaos, to make money or to seek revenge.

A challenge in combating cybersecurity breaches is the way medical equipment manufacturers, information technology staff at hospitals, consultants and in-house biomedical equipment technicians communicate. He said biomedical equipment technicians should see hospital staff as business partners.

“It involves honest conversations about things we are doing right and wrong,” Seeley said.

He said rural hospitals have the hardest time with cyber safety. He said sharing resources with other facilities could help with the problem.

Seeley began preparing for the conference in July by doing industry research. 

“We (TSTC) are an education facility,” he said. “Our hands-on work with cybersecurity is theoretical. We do not get to experience it day in and day out.”

Seeley has presented at the conference six of the last seven years. He enjoys attending because of the interaction he has with other professionals.

“With Garrett’s presentations at these conferences, it allows him to gauge the need for the type of courses that we present to our students,” said Mark Plough, TSTC’s statewide lead in the Biomedical Equipment Technology department. “It also lets others in the biomedical education field see what we are presenting and engages them to what is needed to be presented to students to prepare them for entry-level positions in the field.”

Seeley has taught at TSTC since 2008.. He has degrees from McLennan Community College, Thomas Edison State University and Texas A&M University – Central Texas. 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to  

Environmental Technology at TSTC offers industry-specific training

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Environmental Technology at Texas State Technical College offers training for a diverse array of career opportunities, ranging from environmental field technician, environmental consultant and environmental specialist.

The program is not only extremely hands-on, but it is also taught by instructors who are just as passionate about education as they are about the fields they love.

“The Environmental Technology program provides students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of subjects related to how we manage the protection of our environment, communities and wildlife,” said instructor Maria Vaughan. “It encompasses multiple industries and provides the candidate with industry-specific training.”

The program delves into fundamentals of environmental safety and protection in ways that can fully prepare students for their careers after they graduate.

“Students can expect to learn how to decipher complex regulations and how to apply them,” Vaughan said. “For example, they will learn how to handle and manage waste, and they participate in specialized training and laboratory exercises for industrial hygiene.”

Students also train in labs that instruct them on how to perform air, water, soil and waste sampling. Students even learn how to perform site assessments and perform mock audits across various subjects related to environmental technology, which make those who enjoy the technicalities of analytics great candidates for the program.

“Analytical thinkers, students with mathematical skills and who are detail oriented will enjoy environmental technology — someone who enjoys and cares about the environment and people, and who wants to make a change in the world,” she said.

The Environmental Technology program is always progressing to add even more skill sets to the curriculum. Beginning in fall 2021, the Environmental Technology and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology programs at TSTC will merge to generate a new and improved Safety and Environmental program.

Students enrolled in this program will learn the skills required for environmental technology, as well as safety prevention, safety training and job site hazard-control methods. They will also be required to obtain an internship prior to completion.

“This is a huge benefit to our students because it gives them the best of both worlds,” Vaughan said. “More companies are looking for individuals who can perform both environmental and safety duties and comply with both sets of regulations. Safety and the environment go hand in hand.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit


TSTC Industrial Systems Program Meets Job Needs

(WACO, Texas) – Graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program in Waco should know that work opportunities are out there when they graduate.

“The program in Waco is designed to provide our students with a wide range of valuable skills, from basic machining to boiler maintenance and even programmable logic controllers, which are the prevalent control systems in industry today,” said Edward Chaney, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Industrial Systems department.

Jobs for electromechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians are projected to rise to 15,100 nationally by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency predicted job growth will be seen in the control instruments, electromechanical, machinery, motor vehicle parts and navigational manufacturing areas.

Texas had more than 1,900 electromechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians earning an annual mean wage of $56,750 in May 2019, according to the labor statistics bureau.

“People move around, especially when a new company comes in and expands,” said Jose Palacios, manager of business and industry initiatives for the Heart of Texas Workforce Development Board Inc. in Waco. “Several companies in the area have expanded or added shifts to their work schedules.”

Palacios said workers are needed for logistics, particularly to maintain conveyor belts and other related equipment.

Rj Garcia, a sales executive at Placements Unlimited Inc. in Waco, said the company gets many people looking for production-type work in the city. 

“It all depends on what the company is looking for,” Garcia said. “We do have success filling those jobs.”

Anthony Spalding, director of interns and apprentice programs at HOLT CAT in Irving, said it can be challenging to find qualified applicants for industrial systems, welding and other heavy equipment and manufacturing fields. The heavy equipment company has several locations throughout Texas, including Waco.

“To work in this field or any other trades-related field, the individuals need to have an interest or desire to work with their hands and create, from concept to finish, a product they had a part in,” he said. “As far as inspiring interest, it is exposure to the fields and education on career opportunities and compensation.”

Palacios said utilizing the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is a way the workforce board motivates people of all ages to pursue industrial systems jobs and other technical fields.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Auto Collision Program Provides Women With Skills for the Workforce

(WACO, Texas) – For Texas State Technical College student Haley Rios of Bryan, auto collision and repair work is a family tradition.

Her grandfather used to own a paint and body shop where several relatives worked. She would go to the shop as a child and watch repair work being done.

“It was nice,” Rios said. “I liked it.”

Rios took automotive classes in high school and learned about brake repair, oil changes, shocks, struts and other vehicle components. When it came time to select a college after high school, Rios chose TSTC’s Waco campus, which her father also attended. 

Rios said she has enjoyed learning about different painting techniques and how vehicles are put together.

“The time spent out here (at TSTC) is actually working,” she said. “I am a hands-on learner.”

Rios will start work at Caliber Collision in Bryan after graduating in December from TSTC. She is a candidate for Associate of Applied Science degrees in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization and Auto Collision and Management Technology – Repair Specialization.

Rios’ advice for women interested in pursuing the auto collision and repair industry is simple.

“Go for it, and ignore what everyone says,” she said.

Jannifer Stimmel, an instructor in TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program, said women should pursue the field because it is fulfilling and rewarding.

“Women are very successful in this industry because many women are detail oriented,” she said. “That is a huge asset in our field because in our industry, details play a huge role. Auto collision requires such specifics, whether it be finding the smallest scratch, choosing the correct tint for paint matching, finding hidden damage, identifying flaws in welds — you name it and it applies to some aspect of this industry.”

Stimmel did not have Rios in classes, but did teach Emma Espinoza, who is scheduled to graduate from the program in December.

“She (Emma) was the top performer in her class, along with another female student that was there at the time,” Stimmel said.

Espinoza grew up in Leander and now lives in Liberty Hill. She is a candidate for graduation at TSTC for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization.

Espinoza took automotive tech classes for three years but wanted to do something using her creative side.

“I had no clue about what I wanted to do,” she said.

She was invited to tour TSTC by her boyfriend, Burke Anderson, who is in TSTC’s Automotive Technology – Toyota T-Ten Specialization program. Once she visited the Auto Collision and Management Technology program, she knew what she wanted to do.

“It’s been pretty fun,” Espinoza said. “I stayed quiet at first, but you get used to being around guys.”

Espinoza said she has enjoyed learning about airbrushing and working with vehicle panels.

After graduation, Espinoza wants to work in custom repair in the Austin area.

Jobs for automotive body and related repairers are projected to be at 159,000 in 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers will be needed to fill positions as people retire or transition into other occupations, according to the agency.

In Texas, there were 11,000 automotive body and related repairers earning an annual mean wage of $45,720 in May 2019, according to the labor statistics agency.

Registration continues for the spring semester. For more information on Texas State Technical College, go

TSTC hosts Rosenberg Army recruiting station on Veterans Day

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College welcomed an Army recruiting station to its Fort Bend County campus on Veterans Day.

An avionics system vehicle was situated on the parking lot in front of the Brazos Center on Wednesday afternoon. Upon request, the Army recruitment team gave tours of the vehicle to any present military personnel and TSTC students while following coronavirus safety guidelines.

TSTC’s Director of Veteran Recruitment Kenneth Buford said this showcase is yet another way that TSTC can show its commitment to our service members.

“Highlighting this showcase enhances transparency and reaffirms our commitment to the community and to our veteran population,” he said. “It provides an extraordinary opportunity for our TSTC family to extend an open and warm invitation for any who may be willing to join us in celebrating our military service members of the past, present and future.”

He added that the showcase also brought about a chance for surrounding areas to see what TSTC can do for veterans in the community.

“This presents TSTC with the opportunity for increased public awareness, visibility and military support,” he said. “It is vital that we come together, support our military, support one another, and create pathways capable of securing more Texans and Texas veterans in higher-paying careers.”

One of TSTC’s goals is to help military personnel with a seamless transition when their time in the service is over.

To learn more about TSTC and the options available to veterans, visit


TSTC Student Utilizes Scholarship for Hutto Residents

(HUTTO, Texas) – Matthew Barringer’s most prized possession is on four wheels and comes with history.

He owns a 1998 Dodge Dakota that belonged to his grandfather, who died when Barringer was in elementary school.

“That is the only physical memory I have of him,” said Barringer, a Hutto resident.

When it came time to choose where to go to college, Barringer said he knew a four-year university was not for him. He considered going into police work after graduation but decided to take his love of vehicles and make a career out of it. He chose Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus to study Automotive Technology.

“It has been the best decision I have ever made,” Barringer said. “I am so happy here. I like not having big student loans so I can make money right out of the gate.”

Barringer is a recipient of the Hutto Education Foundation’s scholarship, a joint effort with the city of Hutto and The TSTC Foundation.

“Since 2006, the (Hutto Education Foundation) mission has been to enhance educational opportunities for students and staff in the Hutto Independent School District through our grant and scholarship programs,” said Lizzy Samples, the foundation’s director of community education. “We are excited to partner with TSTC to provide for Hutto ISD graduates/TSTC students in their third and fourth semesters. With deep Hutto roots and with a TSTC hands-on educational experience, these students are bound for greatness.”

Barringer is using the scholarship so he can pay for the fall semester and not take out a loan. 

“Here (at TSTC), I wake up and go to class, and I am ready to learn,” he said.

Barringer is a 2018 graduate of Hutto High School, where he played football.

“He is a great kid,” said Bradley LaPlante, the high school’s head football coach and athletics director. “He always had a nice souped-up truck in the parking lot that was always fresh and clean. With him being in the Automotive Technology program, I think that is right up his alley.”

In the spring, Barringer will do a program-required cooperative at a Hutto-area dealership. He wants to build on his interest in electrical work, learning from experienced automotive technicians.

Barringer’s goal is to stay in the area to work once he graduates from TSTC.

“For him, he is going to be successful at what he puts his mind to and what he wants to do,” LaPlante said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to