Category Archives: Waco

Red Oak ISD Tours TSTC Campus in Waco

(RED OAK, Texas) – Representatives of the Red Oak Independent School District traveled to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus on Thursday to see its technical programs firsthand and talk about future collaboration with TSTC. 

Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost at the North Texas campus in Red Oak, led the school district’s delegation. He said the visit was a way for staff from the school district and TSTC to learn more about each other’s missions. TSTC’s North Texas campus is located next to Red Oak High School and shares its parking lot.

“I think it went really well,” Balch said. “I hope we can find more ways to connect and be more strategic.”

Some of the technical programs the group visited include Aviation Maintenance, Culinary Arts, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Instrumentation and Welding Technology.

“I like the amount of different programs that are available and the first-rate equipment the students have to work with,” said Red Oak High School Principal Miller Beaird.

Beaird said he enjoyed seeing TSTC’s commitment to showing students’ ways to be successful and employable in the workplace. He said some of what he heard could benefit future graduates of Red Oak High School, citing that up to 40 percent of the school’s graduates do not immediately find employment or enroll in college after they graduate. 

“TSTC could help decrease that number,” Beaird said.

Lisa Menton, the Red Oak school district’s career and technical education director, said about 100 Red Oak High School students will be taking dual enrollment classes starting this fall at TSTC. She said this is a number that can grow as students and faculty learn more about TSTC’s offerings at other campuses.

Menton said some of the technical programs she liked were Building Construction Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

“I gained a lot of good knowledge I can pass on to the teachers,” she said.

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TSTC Students Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Homes

(WACO, Texas) – Some Texas State Technical College students are learning how consumers can save money for their residences by making them more energy-efficient. 

Students in the Residential Building Performance Consulting class used a vacant home on campus on Monday to perform a series of tests to find out where outside air leaked in, and vice versa. 

“I want students to learn the actual mechanics of how to set up and perform the tests and how to correct the seals we have,” said Hugh Whitted, an instructor in TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist and Solar Energy Technology programs.

Before testing started, students found every interior opening they could to seal with plastic. Whitted led students through the first test by using a blower to measure how airtight the house was.

“It depressurizes the house so air comes through the cracks and you can seal them,” he said.

Students used a variety of tools, including smoke pencils and thermal cameras, to conduct the tests.

“It’s a good eye-opener to the kind of equipment we will use in the field,” said Christian Bolyard, a TSTC student from Bridge City.

Whitted said students found problems with air leaking through electrical outlets.

Johnathan Rhodes, a TSTC student from Plano, said air leaks can be challenging in older homes.

“Older houses can be terribly constructed because this (the energy code industry) is relatively new,” he said. “It’s important to pay attention to detail and construction.”

Students also performed a duct-blaster test and did a carbon monoxide reading on the home.

“I’m learning some of these buildings are air-challenged and that we may come across things that are not in new buildings that we have to work with,” Bolyard said.

Homes that are insulated well can receive good scores on the Home Energy Score Report from the U.S. Department of Energy. On a scale of 1-10, scores on the higher end mean there is lower energy usage and cost.

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is a two-semester program in Waco preparing students for jobs in energy auditing and green marketing. Whitted teaches students to use the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code, which is designed to meet the need for efficient mechanical, lighting and power systems through model code regulations that result in optimal utilization of fossil fuel and nondepletable resources. 

TSTC’s Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate is part of a “triple crown” combination, which includes the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and the Certificate I in Electrical Construction.

Bolyard and Rhodes are both taking the combined certificate and degree programs.

“It’s been fantastic,” Rhodes said. “I love the hands-on learning, and the instructors tell us stories about what they have experienced in the field.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. 

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TSTC hosts its first interview practicum

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – With the knowledge that practice makes perfect, Texas State Technical College held an inaugural job interview session for students in Fort Bend County, an event that is a job-readiness tradition on most of the other TSTC campuses statewide.

TSTC’s Talent Management and Career Services hosted this first-ever Interview Practicum with assistance from industry partners and TSTC faculty and staff.

Soon-to-be TSTC graduates from Electrical Lineworker Technology and Electrical Power and Controls participated in the event that included mock job interviews, resume building and interview skills workshops.

TSTC Placement Coordinator Judy Cox said each student participated in a round of interviews, each 30 minutes long, and were provided constructive feedback on how to improve his/her resumes and interview skills.TSTC First Interview Practicum

“It’s important to ensure the success of our students,” said Cox. “We create students who are not only technically skilled, but also well-rounded with the people skills they need to competently and confidently present themselves to industry recruiters.”

Industry partners such as Kiewit Corporation; Atec, Inc.; Burns & McDonnell and IBEW Electrical Lineworkers Local Union 66 participated in the event helping with interview coaching and providing student feedback.

Ben Holmes, business representative for IBEW, said he was happy to help TSTC in providing this type of opportunity for its students.

“We have a close relationship with TSTC and their students are graduating job-ready and with the technical skills we’re looking for, but improving their soft skills is also part of the plan and that’s great,” said Holmes. “Some of these students have never had an interview, so giving them the chance to practice and improve is invaluable.”

This was the case for TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology student Angel Moran, who got his first taste of interviewing at the interview practicum.

“I was pretty nervous going into this,” said the 19-year-old. “I was shaky the first round, but really took advice to heart and felt improvement and more confidence going into the second and third rounds.” I’m glad TSTC gave us this opportunity. An interview is everything. That’s what gets you the job and career you want.”

The Fresno native, who graduates next month, said he has already been invited to interview with CenterPoint Energy in Houston and feels more prepared for the interview process because of TSTC’s recent event.

“Interview Practicum taught me a lot and has been very helpful, especially for a first-timer like me,” he said. “I’m thankful to the coaches who took the time to help us and to TSTC for its support in and out of the classroom, and for ensuring that we’re job-ready.”

After seeing the success and positive feedback she received from students and industry partners, Cox said TSTC plans to host this event annually.

“According to our students, our event was 100 percent successful, and I agree,” she said. “The confidence I saw our students leaving with puts a smile on my face. And our industry partners were very impressed with our students’ skills. Our interview practicum can only grow from here and we’re excited for what’s to come.”

In order to promote job placement, TSTC has held interview practicums at its other ten campuses for the past decade. TSTC in Fort Bend County is among the newest but fastest growing campuses for the college.

For more information on the services offered by Talent Management and Career Services to TSTC students and alumni, and on the programs offered, visit

TSTC Wins Six Medals at National SkillsUSA Conference

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College won one gold medal, four silver medals and one bronze medal at the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching employability, leadership and technical skills helping middle school, high school and college students pursue successful careers and build a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories of competition ranging from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.

“The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference is more than just a competition, though it is certainly the pinnacle of collegiate technical skills contests,” said Adam Hutchison, provost of TSTC’s Waco campus. “It’s really a national celebration of technical education and the quality of life that our students can achieve when their craftsmanship is combined with leadership and teamwork skills.”

Erik Syck, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major, won a coveted gold medal in Information Technology Services.

“It’s a massive release and excitement,” Syck said. “Last year I didn’t place at all. In a year, I made that much of a difference and it’s amazing.”

The team of Brandon Lund and Cody White won the silver medal in Additive Manufacturing. This was the first TSTC team to ever compete in the event.

Lund and White, both Architectural Drafting and Design Technology majors, were put together by their instructor, Bryan Clark, because of their interests in 3D printing and machining.

“We were really close to getting gold,” said White. “Brandon is good to work with and knows what he is doing. This is going to help with job hunting.”

Recent TSTC graduate Cody Scheffe won a silver medal in Carpentry. This is the second year he competed in the event. SkillsUSA allows participants to represent their campuses up to six months after graduation.

“I’m excited,” Scheffe said. “Second in the nation is still good. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot from the instructors I have had.”

Jondaria Maxey, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration major, won the silver medal in the Job Skill Demonstration Open contest. The skill he demonstrated was replacing hardware on a computer.

“I wasn’t prepared last year,” said Maxey. “This year, I was more prepared and did a lot of practice. SkillsUSA has helped me be a leader.”

TSTC won the silver medal in TeamWorks for the second year in a row. Recent TSTC graduate Andres Zapata competed on both silver medal teams while students Jacob Dawson, Antonio Hernandez and Leonardo Mata took part for the first time on the college level.

“They are good guys and they do what needs to be done,” Hernandez said. “We just have to build upon what we started here and start working at it. We just have to make our work like a fine-tuned machine.”

Rickie Hartfield won the bronze medal in Residential Systems Installation and Maintenance. For the contest, he demonstrated his ability to install multiple electrical components to work with thermostats and household appliances.

Also at the national conference, TSTC’s Harlingen campus received a silver medal in Community Service and the Marshall campus received a gold medal in Technical Computer Applications.

TSTC’s competitors qualified for the national conference by winning the SkillsUSA Texas State Leadership and Skills Conference in April in Waco.

More than 6,400 students from Alaska to Puerto Rico competed at the conference, with more than 1,100 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded. In-kind industry and education contributions in equipment, materials and time totaled more than $36 million for the event, according to SkillsUSA.

“I’m thrilled that our students get to experience the SkillsUSA NLSC with the other elite technical education students from around the country and be recognized for their outstanding talents,” Hutchison said. “And, I’m grateful for our dedicated faculty and staff who mentor, train and support our students all year long to reach this event.”

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TSTC HVAC Students Encourage Preventive Maintenance on Air Conditioning Units

(WACO, Texas) – Though the 2019 calendar says the first day of summer is June 21, Texas residents know that hot days and the comfort of air conditioning started much earlier.

On Thursday, June 20, students in Texas State Technical College’s Air Conditioning Troubleshooting class were simulating cold and hot situations on air conditioning systems.

“We are working with high-voltage, spinning unit fans, compressors,” said Derrick Gonzales of Waco, an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Technology major. “We are working with very high pressures and coolant.”

The students, who aspire to be future HVAC technicians, may have a lot of work to do in the future.

The United States, Japan and China are the world’s top users of air conditioning, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2018 study, “The Future of Cooling.” The number of air conditioning units is projected to rise worldwide to more than 5.6 billion by 2050, according to the study.

“With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a prepared statement given at the time of the study. “While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized.”

Gonzales said people should check and replace air filters and replace batteries in indoor thermostats. And, they should watch the direction grass is cut around outdoor units to minimize clogging.

HVAC Technology major Otniel Luviano of Buffalo, Texas, said bad air flow can increase pressure blowouts, especially in older units.

Tim Snyder, an instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said the ideal time to test air conditioning units is between spells of cold and warm weather.

“Most people have companies they call to come and do preventive maintenance,” he said.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation regulates air conditioning and refrigeration contractors who install, repair and maintain systems.

“The best thing for customers is to investigate their contractor,” Luviano said. “If you want to be a good technician, you have to go forward and learn the right way.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and an HVAC technician certificate.

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TSTC Alumnus Invents Portable Workstation

(WACO, Texas) – Bobby Martin’s work as an oil field service controls technician was the inspiration for a magnetic portable workstation he invented.

Martin, a 1990 graduate of Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College), received a patent in September 2018 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for The OmniShelf.

Martin’s invention, which measures about 17 by 15 by 3 inches when closed, uses industrial-strength magnets or suction cups to adhere to many metal or smooth vertical surfaces, leaving the user’s hands free. Once securely in place, The OmniShelf can support up to 30 pounds.

“I work all over the (oil) rig and needed something that was portable, and I thought I could make one that was magnetic. And, that is how it came about,” Martin said. “It took about three years to get it finished, going from the first prototype to what it is now.”

Some of the components Martin considered in the development process were the texture, strength of the plastic and how to make it work with hinges.

“We have some tweaks that are going to be made, but right now we have been selling it a little over a year,” Martin said. “It is just taking off on its own.”

Injection molding for the product is done in Kennedale, and assembly, packaging and storage is done in McGregor.

“When he decided to do this, I was behind him 100 percent,” said Martin’s wife, Mindy. “I’m very impressed with him finding the right people he found on his own as far as the molding company, the people in McGregor.”

Martin graduated in 1988 from China Spring High School.

“I didn’t even take a summer break,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when I decided I wanted to get into computers.”

Martin received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Maintenance Technology in 1990. After graduation, he worked in missile systems testing, troubleshooting and computer chip equipment maintenance at Texas Instruments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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Three TSTC Building Construction Technology Scholarships Awarded

(WACO, Texas) – Two future Texas State Technical College students and one current TSTC student were recently awarded Building Construction Technology scholarships.

Recent Belton High School graduates Jose Delgado and Isaac Collazo Garcia each received $6,000 SkillsUSA scholarships to attend TSTC. Both students plan to major in Building Construction Technology this fall.

Delgado said he was inspired to go to college by Craig Sullivan, his high school construction technology teacher, and his involvement in SkillsUSA, which is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

Delgado said he wants to learn everything he can while at TSTC.

Collazo Garcia said the college’s state and national reputation impressed him. Several Belton alumni have gone on to graduate from TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program.

“I’m excited to learn new things and have new opportunities coming here,” he said.

The Building Construction Technology program also awarded a $200 Brazos Valley Woodturners scholarship to Amber Voss of Axtell. She is pursuing certificates in Energy Efficiency Specialist and Electrical Construction, along with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology.

“It (the scholarship) will definitely help because I quit my full-time job to go to school,” Voss said. “My husband is the main provider while I live out my dream.”

Chris Porter, lead instructor  in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program, said the Brazos Valley Woodturners meet monthly on campus.

“Once a year they give money for scholarships,” Porter said. “It’s great because it helps the students out tremendously.”

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TSTC Graduate Upholds Mission to Serve and Protect

(WACO, Texas) – Henry Herring of Temple has gone from serving and defending our country to protecting technology networks throughout Texas.

Herring, a 2018 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security and Digital Forensics Specialist programs in Waco, is director of security operations at Sentinel Cyber Intelligence in downtown Waco.

“This is not just a job,” Herring said. “This is a lifestyle and something you need to have a passion for.”

Sentinel Cyber Intelligence was founded in 2015 and specializes in digital forensics, cyber security and private investigations. Most of its clients are city and county governments and school districts throughout the state.

“The more technology develops, the more we are going to have our hands in it,” Herring said. “There will always be someone out there who needs protection.”

Herring spent more than 15 years in the U.S. Army working with tactical communications.

“Back then, we had some low-tech and high-tech stuff,” he said. “We had AM radios we had to transmit with.”

Jonathan Owens, a TSTC Cyber Security instructor, encouraged Herring to consider Sentinel for professional experience.

“He was a great student and is a wonderful person who strives to excel at each task and create relations with each person he meets,” Owens said. “He continues to challenge himself, and he now shows his TSTC spirit by helping TSTC students get local internships at Sentinel Cyber Intelligence.”

The business usually has five TSTC interns at a time working around their class schedules.

“We try to find interns with longevity,” Herring said. “We like them to have at least a year to train them. Here, this is not textbook because these are live clients. We do a lot of research on the stuff that is coming through and the latest threats.”

Owens said he welcomes opportunities for high-achieving students to work at Sentinel.

“It is always a great thing to receive an email from Richard Martin (a Sentinel co-managing partner) or Henry asking for new interns,” Owens said. “Richard and Henry provide inspiration and direction to each intern, building on the foundation that TSTC provides.”

Michael Mata, a Cyber Security major from Waco, is currently a Sentinel intern.

“They have taught me a lot of different software and programs,” Mata said. “They have shown me how to use open-source services. I feel security is at the top of people’s minds. We have to know our job and how people can exploit the systems. Malicious hackers are becoming more common.”

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TSTC, High Schools Prepare for SkillsUSA National Conference

(WACO, Texas) – Some high school students from Central and Southeast Texas spent Thursday and Friday at Texas State Technical College, where they worked with TSTC students to perfect their hands-on skills in preparation for a national contest.

The students from Belton High School and the Pasadena Independent School District’s Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Technical High School in Houston, along with participating TSTC students, are gearing up to compete in the 55th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference on June 24-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The students won the right to compete nationally after winning gold medals at their respective  state-level contests earlier this spring.

Belton High School sent its four-person TeamWorks group to work alongside TSTC’s TeamWorks group in building mock structures with plumbing fixtures, electrical components, masonry and a mini-roof.

The electrician for TSTC’s TeamWorks group, Leonardo Mata of Fort Worth, said an added challenge to the two days was working with an alternate because a team member was unable to make the practices.

“It kind of made us see our differences, and we knew where to fill in the gaps,” Mata said.

This will be Mata’s first trip to the national competition. He said he looks forward to representing TSTC and showing others how talented the students are.

Students from TSTC and the Houston school also did a mock contest in preparation for SkillsUSA’s Carpentry competition.

On another part of campus, students from TSTC and the Houston school worked on their techniques to prepare for the Collision Repair Technology contest.

Alfredo Rodriguez, a senior at the Houston school, said he enjoyed using equipment he had not worked with before. One of the skills he learned from TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology faculty was nitrogen plastic welding.

Rodriguez said he hopes the knowledge he learned will give him an advantage over other students at the national conference.

“It should be an experience,” he said.

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TSTC Hosts Mock Interview Sessions for Students

(WACO, Texas) – More than 30 Texas State Technical College students have become better prepared for job hunting after practicing their interview skills on Wednesday and Thursday.

TSTC’s Career Services office hosted an interview practicum at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center on the Waco campus for students to sit down with area business recruiters and TSTC staff for mock interview sessions.

“Many of our students have not had an interview before, and this event is a great opportunity for them to get practice in doing so,” said Jose Muniz, a Career Services director.

After the sessions were completed, TSTC staff and area business people filled out forms highlighting the students’ strengths and areas to improve on.

Joe Razza, a regional recruiter at Crown Lift Trucks in Arlington, said he liked the students’ demeanors, but some of them had difficulty talking about their hands-on experiences at TSTC.

“We are setting them up for success,” Razza said.

Mick Henry, a Precision Machining Technology major from Waco, participated in the interviews because he wants a great-paying job after graduation.

“The first two interviews were definitely informative,” Henry said. “I got help on my resume. On the third interview with Mr. Razza, I learned about the employers’ perspective with interviews.”

Jesus Acevedo, an Instrumentation Technology major from Gholson, said his interviewers liked his eye contact.

“It went better and better as I went along,” Acevedo said. “I grew more positive and less nervous.”

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