Category Archives: Waco

TSTC Aircraft Pilot Students in Demand to Fill Jobs

(WACO) – Students in the Aircraft Pilot Training Technology program at Texas State Technical College are seeing an array of job options once they graduate.

“There aren’t enough pilots being trained to meet the need,” said Trey Cade, director of Baylor University’s Institute for Air Science, which partners with TSTC in pilot training. “Airlines need to be flying more routes and need more airplanes.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for airline and commercial pilots are expected to increase by 4 percent through 2026.

“The demand is everywhere, specifically at the regional level. Everyone is fighting each other for the ability to get you, the pilot, to come to one of us,” said Marie Didonna, a cadet manager for Envoy Air Inc. “It’s kind of like the buyer’s market for housing; it’s the pilot’s market for a job.”

Although traditionally a male-dominated field, the aviation industry is seeing an increase in female pilots.

“Our female cadet numbers are going up,” Didonna said. “Those interests are really taking off, and it’s easier to spread the word when you can say, ‘Look, these are female pilots.’”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2018 Active Civil Airmen Statistics report, there were more than 46,400 female pilots in 2018 compared to around 39,600 in 2013.

“It’s great to see a little girl look up at you and say, ‘That’s amazing; I didn’t know I could be a pilot,’” Didonna said.

TSTC’s Aircraft Pilot Training Technology students take classes and do all flight training at the campus airport. Baylor students do coursework at their home campus and flight training at TSTC.

“I would definitely recommend the program to anyone who is seriously interested in becoming a pilot,” said Noelle Smith, an 18-year-old Aviation Sciences major at Baylor from Fort Worth doing pilot training at TSTC. “They get you in the plane first semester. You’re immersed in it to make sure you like it.”

Aviation students from both institutions are given helpful perks to help jump-start their careers. TSTC offers a Part 141 training program that enables Baylor graduates to receive a 500-hour reduction from the required 1,500 flight training hours. TSTC students who graduate with an associate degree receive a 250-hour reduction.

“The 141 program here at TSTC is very professional,” said Andrew Dolan, a TSTC flight instructor and Baylor aviation alumnus. “You really get the good training you need here to excel and advance further in the industry.”

The annual mean wage for commercial pilots in Texas as of May 2017 was more than $105,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC has the largest airport in the United States operated by an educational institution and includes a dual runway operational control tower.

“I like how it [the program] is structured,” said Alejandro Ledesma, 21, a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Training Technology major from Dallas. “They don’t just make pilots, they make quality pilots. I’m not trying to be another average pilot.”

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TSTC in Waco Hosts Industry Job Fair

(WACO) – More than 860 Texas State Technical College students met potential employers from throughout the nation and Texas on Thursday at its Industry Job Fair.

Students were lining up to register about a half hour before the 9 a.m. start of the event at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center. Inside, students were treated to more than 100 companies looking to fill jobs for diesel equipment mechanics, industrial maintenance workers, instrumentation employees, electricians, plumbers and welders.

Galaxy Builders Ltd. in San Antonio has hired six TSTC graduates in recent years, said Ramiro Contreras, the company’s executive vice president.

“I have had really good success,” he said.

Contreras said he was searching for potential assistant project managers.

“There’s a misconception that everyone swings a hammer,” he said.

Boeing attended its first campus Industry Job Fair, with representatives seeking aviation mechanics, industrial maintenance workers and electrical employees.

“We really like how we are getting students that are matched to what we are looking for,” said Chris Rustik, a Boeing equipment maintenance manager. “The students are eager to find out information, so we appreciate that.”

Some TSTC alumni returned to campus to job recruit.

Joseph Jacobs, a support services manager for the Waco Independent School District, graduated in 2000 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.

He said the school district, one of Waco’s largest employers, looks for more than teachers. Jacobs said computer networking is one of the fields that workers are sought for.

Students asked questions, clutched company brochures and handed out resumes to business representatives.

Cesar Vazquez, 19, of Red Oak is studying in the Diesel Equipment Technology program. He talked to a few companies and felt good about his job prospects.

“I’m here to get a job in the diesel industry because I like working on diesels and I have since I was a little boy,” Vazquez said. “My first truck was a diesel, and I just like working on them.”

Tanner Whitsel, 19, of Giddings is also studying in the Diesel Equipment Technology program.

“I’m here to get a job close to home,” he said. “The Industry Job Fair is important because it has a lot of jobs you may not see that are closer to home than you think.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC to host its first Industry Job Fair

In line with its of mission of placing more Texans in high-paying jobs,

Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County will be hosting its first Industry Job Fair for TSTC students and alumni.

The job fair will be hosted at the TSTC campus located at 26706 Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg with more than 40 companies signed up to  accept resumes and conduct on-site interviews. 

“The growth we have seen on this campus is exponential,” said TSTC Talent Management and Career Services coordinator Judy Cox. “And because of the highly-skilled students we’re producing and sending out into the workforce, we’re becoming more popular among local industries.”

Industry Job Fairs are an annual event hosted across TSTC’s 10 campuses statewide.

“Many of the industry reps who will be attending this event have hired TSTC students in the past or are interested in hiring,” said Cox. “One of the major reasons for hosting this job fair comes from request of these companies.”

TSTC students and alumni can expect to see companies such as Atec, Inc., a product and service manufacturer for aerospace and energy; Burns & McDonnell, a construction and engineering company; Coonrod Electric, an electrical construction services company; Crown Lift Trucks; HEB; Travel Centers of America-Petro; among others.

“TSTC is the technical education leader in Texas and companies know this,” said Cox. “And as industry continues to boom in our area and across the state, opportunities for our students grow.”

Cox added that programs at TSTC can be completed within two years or less, which in turn can save the student money and get them out into the workforce quicker.

This also allows TSTC to meet the increasing industry demand for more middle-skilled workers, which in most cases requires an education beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

TSTC students and alumni are encouraged to attend the job fair and arrive dressed to impress and with updated resumes in hand.

If a student or alumni needs assistance preparing for the job fair, the college’s Talent Management and Career Services office offers resume writing assistance and interview coaching.   

Among these services, which are offered throughout the year, TSTC also offers job search assistance and for employers and industry partners, Employer Spotlights.

Employer Spotlights include on-campus recruiting visits used by employers to meet and speak to TSTC students and graduates about job opportunities.

“Our goal is to get our students hired before they graduate and this job fair is another tool in our arsenal that gives our students in the Fort Bend County area an advantage,” said Cox. “This will open up a world of opportunities for our students and industry partners.”

For more information on the Industry Job Fair or the services offered to students, alumni and employers, call Talent Management and Career Services at 346-239-3429.

TSTC Alumnus Motivated by Career Choice in Austin

(WACO) – Jacob Johnson’s career is in the fast lane.

Johnson, 20, of Austin graduated in August from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cloud and Data Center Management. He is an associate systems engineer at Austin-based Accruent, a worldwide physical resources management and planning company.

“This is the start of a great career and life for me,” Johnson said. “Besides, I genuinely find my job fun. I leave work and I go home and study AWS (Amazon Web Services), which I also find super enjoyable. I would not be this motivated if I did not enjoy what I was doing.”

Johnson’s job involves using the company’s ticketing system to ensure that software websites and servers are functional.

“I also do a fair amount of troubleshooting of our websites when customers find issues that our support team cannot figure out,” he said.

Johnson said what he learned at TSTC has been beneficial to his job.

“The thing I am most knowledgeable about is cloud providers,” Johnson said. “What my work gives me is the ability to expand my knowledge greatly on the actual server side of technology. I just love learning more about it.”

Rus Teston, an instructor in TSTC’s Cloud and Data Center Management program, said he could see early on how eager Johnson was to learn.

“During the AWS Solutions Architect course, it was apparent to everyone when things aligned for Jacob and his torch of knowledge was lit,” Teston said. “Even after graduation while looking for employment, Jacob continued to pursue knowledge, and AWS certificate after certificate were quickly claimed as his own.”

Workers will be needed to fill an increase in information technology positions predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency has estimated more than 24,000 network and computer systems administrators and 10,500 more computer network architects will be needed by 2026.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC to host annual Open House

Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County invites all prospective students, community leaders and neighbors to its annual Open House.

The open house will be Friday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at TSTC’s Brazos Center located at 26706 Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg.  

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase our campus and the type of technical education TSTC is providing to the local community and the state,” said TSTC student recruitment coordinator Yulonda Durst. “Events like this are eye-openers and give people a better understanding of who we are and what we provide.”

TSTC in Fort Bend County is one of 10 campuses throughout the state. It offers certificates and associate degrees in programs such as Cyber Security, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology and Welding Technology.

“We offer degrees in two years or less that can lead to great-paying jobs,” said Durst. “We’re focused on providing the skills needed for successful careers and on providing the state with a quality workforce.”

According to research conducted by the National Skills Coalition, 53 percent of all jobs are at the middle-skill level, but only 43 percent of the United States workforce is trained for this type of work.

Closing this skills gap and building a stronger economy is what Texas State Technical College has set out to do.

The National Skills Coalition reports that the majority of middle-skill job opportunities require education and training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

Durst said that during Open House those in attendance can learn firsthand about the training opportunities TSTC has to offer.

Programs will offer hands-on activities and demonstrations to give attendees the TSTC experience.

“We offer a wide variety of programs that have an in-demand workforce,” said Durst. “And so we hope that many will find TSTC a good fit for them.”

During the open house, TSTC will also offer 30-minute sessions on financial aid, college admissions and the “411 on TSTC.”

Campus tours and lunch will also be available. And every student who applies to TSTC during the Open House will be entered to win a TSTC scholarship for tuition, books and supplies.

“We want to encourage everyone who’s interested or curious about TSTC to stop by,” said Durst. “This is going to be a one-stop shop to get everything needed for registration ready. This could be the start to someone’s successful future.”

Registration for the TSTC Open House is online at Save the QR code to save time on the day of the event.

For more information on TSTC in Fort Bend County and the programs it offers, visit

TSTC’s Solar Energy Technology Program Radiating With Job Possibilities for Graduates

(WACO) – Julian Rodriguez’s future in the solar industry looks to be as bright as the sun shining on the panels generating energy in Texas.

Rodriguez, 18, of McCamey in Upton County, is in his second semester at Texas State Technical College, studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and certificates in Energy Efficiency Specialist and Electrical Construction. The combination is referred to at TSTC as the Triple Crown.

Rodriguez chose to study the alternative energy because of what is going on in and around his hometown. Upton County is home to the Alamo 6 and Pearl solar farms, both built by OCI Solar Power, and Solar 2, which is owned by Vistra Energy. In neighboring Pecos County, California-based 174 Power Global broke ground in January 2018 on the 1,500-acre Midway Solar project. The projects are bringing extra workers to Upton County, which has more than 3,600 residents.

“It’s a lot of unfamiliar faces, which is cool,” Rodriguez said. “It’s interesting to see. It’s opened up a lot of possibilities for me.”

The solar industry includes more than 13,000 employees in the state, according to the Texas Solar Power Association.

“I would hope job seekers would view us as a growing industry making a positive impact in Texas,” said Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association in Austin. “I’ve certainly heard that message from job seekers, including from mid-career professionals looking to transition to solar and leverage their existing energy industry expertise.”

Texas is ranked sixth in the country in solar energy consumption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s December 2018 Solar Spotlight – Texas. About 282,000 Texas homes are powered by solar, according to the SEIA.

There are more than 650 solar companies in the state, a majority of them specializing in installation and manufacturing, according to the SEIA.

Ignacio Guajardo, co-owner of Peg Energy in Corpus Christi, Laredo and San Antonio, said the company recruits employees for their skills and then trains them.

“There are electricians and structural engineers and a lot of different people that know of certain areas of solar, but not totally solar,” he said. “It’s definitely a challenge when you are looking for installers or technicians or designers. It’s not all that easy.”

Guajardo said some customers had to know others who have solar to understand how panels are installed and function. He predicted the company could generate growth in the next few years, expanding beyond South Texas.

“People are becoming more aware of the technology,” Guajardo said. “As technology keeps improving, we see more people going solar.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the number of solar photovoltaic installers will rise to more than 23,100 jobs nationwide by 2026.

Elliott Graham, 20, of Mansfield is a second-semester TSTC Triple Crown student. He said his parents encouraged him to pursue the associate degree and certificates.

“I enjoy just being outside,” Graham said. “I’d rather be outside than at a desk job. It’s something different every day.”

He said he has prepared for classwork by going to a gym to improve his fitness and learning the mathematics behind solar energy. Graham said it is important to calculate precise roof dimensions before determining how many panels will be needed.

“You want to save as much time as possible for the customer,” he said.

TSTC’s Solar Energy Technology program has at least 35 students this semester, with many studying for the associate degree and two certificates. Graduates tend to work in parts of Texas with locally offered solar incentives and rebates.

“It gets them into good-paying jobs quicker,” said Hugh Whitted, a TSTC Solar Energy Technology instructor. “It makes them more marketable.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC SkillsUSA TeamWorks Group Uses Skills for Volunteer Work

(WACO) – For an area church, it was a gift.

For students at Texas State Technical College, it was a way to give back to the community.

Members of TSTC’s SkillsUSA TeamWorks team volunteered Thursday and Friday to do renovation work at the Word of Faith Ministry in Temple. The students — Belton residents Antonio Hernandez and Andres Zapata, Jacob Dawson of Mansfield and Leonardo Mata of Fort Worth — removed tile, closed in an office wall, opened a portion of another wall and installed French doors.

“This is truly a blessing because I like to see young men at their ages have a drive and something to support,” said Larry Watkins, the church’s pastor.

The work gave the students an opportunity to see how compatible they are away from TSTC, where they practice weekly.

“It’s been pretty good,” said Mata, 19. “Hanging out with them is good. I hope this experience helps us out.”

Dawson, 19, said he worked throughout high school individually in SkillsUSA contests, but since joining the construction team he has learned how to trust his teammates’ skills.

“It’s nice to do something different,” he said.

Watkins first met Zapata when he worked at Home Depot and was attending Belton High School. Zapata’s first project for the church was building a podium stage when he was a junior.

The TeamWorks group will have a simulated building scrimmage on Friday, March 29, at the Ben Barber Innovation Academy in Mansfield.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help college and high school students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC’s Schneider Inducted Into International Chefs Honor Society

(WACO) – Mark Schneider, Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts division director, was recently inducted into the Epicurean World Master Chefs Society.

Schneider joins about 350 members of the international honor society. And, he joins Executive Pastry Chef Michele Brown as the only TSTC Culinary Arts instructors to have achieved the honor.

“It’s a privilege to bring this back to TSTC,” Schneider said. “For TSTC to have one (instructor) is amazing, but to have two (instructors) is unheard of. To be in the Epicurean World Master Chefs Society – it’s something you don’t ask about. It’s invitation-only.”

Schneider was honored at the organization’s Annual Sponsors Luncheon in late February at Via Real in Irving, where he created a Texas-themed dessert: Tequila Lime White Chocolate Bavarian Dome with Prickly Pear Gelee and Avocado Ice Cream with Praline Sauce.

“The event was a huge success, with Chef Schneider’s dessert being the star of the lunch,” Brown said.

Schneider invited Len Pawelek, a TSTC Culinary Arts instructor, to cook with him at the luncheon where Pawelek made appetizers.

“We are blessed at TSTC to have chefs that have excelled in their careers,” Pawelek said. “Some of the most respected chefs are recognizing them.”

Schneider said he will be trained and coached by other society members to prepare for competitions like the IKA/Culinary Olympics and the Expogast Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup.

“To me, I have learned with different honors that this is just another plateau,” he said. “It puts me back into service and paying it forward.”

Schneider is a 1989 graduate of Midway High School. He received a culinary diploma from the Greater Cincinnati Culinary Academy in 1993 and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Food Service and Culinary Arts from TSTC in 2001. He also earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in Business from Tarleton State University in 2009.

Schneider became a certified executive chef in 2002 and a certified culinary educator in 2008 granted by the American Culinary Foundation.

He was named the Texas Chefs Association’s Chef of the Year in 2008 and was the American Culinary Federation’s Central Region Educator of the Year in 2016.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC, Eaton partnership provides first-class training

A new partnership between Texas State Technical College and power management company Eaton is giving TSTC Electrical Power and Controls students an invaluable training opportunity.

Eaton, a global technology leader in electrical systems, and TSTC have been working closely for a year to create a program that would open the doors of Eaton’s Experience Center in Houston for the program’s students.

“I can’t put into words how valuable this partnership with Eaton is for our students and TSTC,” said TSTC Electrical Power and Controls instructor Jonathan Bonkoske. “This is a dream come true, and we are looking forward to the kind of opportunity this can bring.”

Recently the current cohort of Electrical Power and Controls students was invited to tour and train at the Eaton Experience Center, which provides a unique ability to give visitors hands-on training in a true application environment.

“This place is perfect to provide our students with a firsthand look as to what they can expect when they enter the field,” said Bonkoske. “And it also gives our students the chance to network with industry professionals.”

Although TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls lab offers industry-standard equipment and tools, Bonkoske said there’s nothing that compares to seeing and using it out in the field.

TSTC Electrical Power and Controls student Thomas Penney from West Columbia, Texas, said that the training he receives at TSTC, in addition to the training he received at the Eaton Experience Center, has prepared him for a successful career.

“This experience has truly been an eye-opener,” said Penney. “I give our instructors props for working hard to give us this type of opportunity and for setting us up for success.”

Penney plans to graduate with his associate degree this summer and said he hopes this newly formed partnership will continue for years to come to benefit other students.

“This is great real-world experience, and I hope others that come after our class have the same opportunity,” said Penney. “I’m pretty sure it’ll only get better from here.”

Eaton District Operations Manager Joe Montanari and Bonkoske agree that this partnership promises to grow over time.

“This partnership is our contribution to education,” said Montanari. “And when I toured TSTC and the Electrical Power and Controls labs, they left an impression. Many students don’t get the type of training TSTC students receive.”

Montanari said the hands-on training the Eaton Experience Center provides is a supplement to what students are already learning at TSTC, and future plans for the partnership include supporting the program with equipment and tools, sending field engineers and technicians to the college for presentations, and ultimately hiring TSTC graduates.

Montanari’s counterparts in North Texas already work closely with and hire graduates from TSTC in Waco.

“TSTC students come highly recommended,” said Montanari. “And I’ve already been impressed with the students’ engagement, willingness to learn and excitement they have shown us.”

Bonkoske added that the opportunities found at Eaton’s Experience Center extend beyond Electrical Power and Controls, and he hopes in the near future he can incorporate Electrical Lineworker Technology, Cyber Security Technology and Industrial Maintenance into this training experience.

Electrical Power and Controls is also offered at TSTC’s Abilene, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County campuses.

For more information on the program, visit

HVAC student finds her new career at TSTC

Camille Martinez thought she had settled on her life-long career right out of high school, but after more than a decade and realizing she was no longer growing without a degree, she took her life in a different direction.

The 39-year-old is now a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) student at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County and the only female in the program.

“I can’t tell you why or how I became interested in HVAC, except that we live in Texas and we always need air conditioners,” she said with a laugh. “But in all seriousness, I know that HVAC is a stable industry and I will probably never be out of job or opportunities.”

For more than a decade Martinez worked with Texas Instruments in photolithography, processing images on chips that are part of fabrication for technologies used in, among other things, toys such as the Furby doll.

“Life was good, and I got comfortable. I was making really good money without a college degree,” said Martinez. “But at the same time not having that degree was weighing on me and I didn’t have growth opportunities because of it.”

So for a little over a year, she lived off her savings so she could begin the process of returning to school, but in the midst of it all her mother got ill and Martinez  became her full-time caregiver.

“My mom was my motivator. What was I was going to do without her?” said Martinez. “The one thing I know she wanted for me was to become a college graduate, so after she passed away in June I set out to do just that.”

The Richmond native holds a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, was recently invited to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for her academic achievement and expects to earn her certificate in Summer 2019.

“I’m excited for this new chapter in my life,” she said. “I now have a goal, opportunities and the chance at a long-term career.”

She said her time at TSTC has been life-changing and her hands-on training invaluable. From the instructors to her classmates, who she now considers little brothers, she said her experience at TSTC has been a positive one.

“Everyone has been so supportive, encouraging and motivating,” said Martinez. “I never expected this, especially as the only woman in the class. But they have all proved me wrong. In fact, I’ve come to learn that everyone on campus plays a part in our success.”

Now with everything in place for Martinez, she said she expects to return to TSTC for an associate degree  and looks forward to begin her career working in the field to gain experience that she hopes leads to her very own HVAC company.

“My family has been so supportive making this an easy decision for me,” she said. “Because at TSTC I’m no longer wandering. I have a path and a sense of accomplishment. I have a future.”

Students like Martinez, who are enrolled in HVAC Technology, have access to industry-standard labs and an opportunity to learn and practice on commercial and residential heating and air conditioning equipment, refrigeration equipment and chilled water systems.

There are certificate and degree tracks provided so students can enter the field as skilled HVAC mechanics or installers.

HVAC Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Harlingen, North Texas, Waco and Williamson County Campuses.

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