Category Archives: Waco

Area Residents to Benefit From TSTC Scholarships

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus is using the generosity of two donors to help Midlothian-area residents further their education.

The Midlothian Economic Development Corp. recently made the final contribution in a three-year giving cycle to fund the Midlothian Workforce/Careers Scholarship.

The $30,000 scholarship fund will be divided into $1,000 TSTC scholarships for area residents who live within the boundaries of the Midlothian Independent School District and are high school graduates or have General Educational Development certificates.

TSTC Provost Marcus Balch credited Larry Barnett, a former MEDC executive director and current member of The TSTC Foundation’s board of directors, for helping to bring the campus and Midlothian together.

“He really took an interest in us and connected us to a number of industry partners, city officials, and school officials,” Balch said. “It has just been an all-around good partnership from a connection standpoint.”

Another recent scholarship contribution came from Colten Crist, advertising and operations director of the Midlothian Mirror and Waxahachie Daily Light. He contributed $1,500 for scholarships for students who graduated this year from any of Ellis County’s 15 high schools to attend TSTC’s North Texas campus. Three students will receive $500 each, Crist said.

The inspiration for making the financial gift came from the for-profit Best of All-Ellis County Preps sports banquet held virtually this year. The second annual event honored high school athletes at the county’s high schools.

Crist said he felt last year’s event was missing a contribution to the community, so he reached out to Balch and talked about TSTC’s importance to the county.

“I really like TSTC and what they do, honestly,” Crist said. “I think it is something that is extremely needed in our educational system.”

TSTC’s enrollment coaches will tag students in TSTC’s registration system as potential scholarship recipients. The scholarships will be awarded once students register for classes.

For more information on how to make a gift to TSTC, go to

TSTC Aviation Maintenance Graduates Ready to Fill Job Openings

(WACO, Texas) – Aviation maintenance technicians are needed now more than ever.

Robert Capps, statewide chair of Texas State Technical College’s Aviation Maintenance department, said aviation maintenance and repair businesses working with contracts are doing well, along with aviation manufacturers.

“Our graduates have not had a hard time finding jobs,” Capps said. “Right now, the industry is just sort of in a holding pattern. The airlines are in tough shape because no one is flying commercial aviation. The airlines are only one part of the industry.”

Capps said aviation maintenance students also earning an avionics degree can mean more visibility in the hiring process and the possibility of higher pay. He said aviation maintenance students should be willing to relocate for jobs.

Southern Star Aviation in Midlothian has separate avionics and maintenance divisions.  

Jacob Garcia, Southern Star Aviation’s shop foreman, said it is not easy to find people with experience that fit with the general aviation work the business specializes in.

“I guess it is hard because we are not in the metro area and have the pick of everyone that lives there,” he said.

Garcia said the business provides in-house training on how the maintenance and avionics sides operate.

“Aviation is a niche thing,” he said. “I have seen a lot of people come and go out of this industry. It is a passion kind of thing. You want to be here.”

Texas had more than 16,400 aircraft mechanics and service technicians making an annual mean wage of more than $66,000 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest concentrations of workers in Texas are in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. 

The nationwide need for workers is projected to grow to more than 141,000 through 2028, according to the agency.

“Old perceptions of skilled trades involving dirty, hot work must change,” said Jarid King, president of King Aerospace in Addison. “A&P certified mechanics typically work in squeaky clean hangars with the latest in diagnostic technology. It’s hands-on, highly rewarding work. Security concerns have lessened the number of open houses the industry used to hold as a way to expose young people to aviation as a career. The industry needs to champion those again.”

Aviation businesses of all sizes throughout Texas are searching for workers.

Aero Accessories Inc. in San Antonio is looking for a shop mechanic for aircraft engine accessories.

“We are just a small shop, so we have fewer than 10 employees,” said Debra Broyles, general manager. “We can’t pay the scale competing with Lockheed and Boeing.”

Broyles said in the past the business has employed workers with automotive experience to work on its specialty of overhauling and repairing engine accessories for airplanes dating back to World War II. Broyles said the business trains new workers, who need to have electrical and mechanical proficiency.

Capps said the aviation maintenance program at TSTC’s Waco campus is full for the fall semester, but there are still spaces available at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

(ABILENE, Texas) – Sheryl Givens turned a lifelong passion into a career.

Since graduating from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology in 2018, Givens has worked as a designer for SCS Technologies in Big Spring.

“I have always been interested in construction,” Given said. “Growing up, I liked drawing things on a day-by-day basis.”

At SCS Technologies, Givens designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies. The company specializes in programmable logic controller-based systems, control panel fabrication, and custody transfer liquid measurements.

Givens said being part of the TSTC program prepared her for this career.

“Throughout the years, I have admired all the strong work ethic and personal integrity of the field,” she said. “I appreciated all the help from TSTC, which led me to become a motivated and driven professional with a high level of leadership and initiative, as well as excellent analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills.”

She said TSTC instructors prepared her for a career as a designer.

“They helped me find challenging career opportunities where knowledge, skills, and experience can be effectively utilized with organizations offering opportunities for professional growth and advancement,” Givens said.

The drafting and design program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Electrical Construction Program Launches Graduates Into Work

(WACO, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Construction program have an array of opportunities for work after graduation.

TSTC offers an Electrical Construction certificate at the Waco campus. Students learn about basic electrical theory, electrical codes, safety regulations, wiring and other topics.

“As your (TSTC’s) students are concerned, what gives them a jump is they have their OSHA training, their first aid and CPR training,” said Craig Miller, business manager for Local 72 of the  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Waco. “They are familiar with the electrical code. We just build on that and run with that from there.”

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation governs licensing for electricians. Under the agency, TSTC’s Electrical Construction students can get an apprenticeship card while in the program. When students graduating from the program earn 800 on-the-job hours, they can take the journeyman’s license test. After 4,000 additional on-the-job hours, graduates can take the master’s license test.

“We have quite a few of your graduates that are in our training program now that have completed the program,” Miller said. “You can start at 19, 20 years old and go until you are 62. We are looking for lifers.”

Hugh Whitted, chair of TSTC’s Electrical Construction program, said a lot of students entering the program already have some electrical knowledge, either through high school classes or military experience.

Whitted said Electrical Construction graduates can pursue union or nonunion work. Job opportunities can provide work throughout Texas, out of state or in another country.

“There is always a need for women and minorities in the field,” he said. “There is no physical reason why anyone could not be successful in this field.”

The Waco Independent School District employs its own electricians. Kevin Hafer, the district’s coordinator of facilities and maintenance, said it can be difficult finding people with proper qualifications. 

“Most electricians that possess the proper qualifications are able to command a higher salary in the private sector, albeit with less benefits than the district typically offers,” Hafer said.

Miller said the health care industry has a need for electricians. And, he said large-scale projects like the $1.9 billion Steel Dynamics mill project in Sinton needs electricians.

Jobs for electricians are projected to be at more than 789,000 by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It predicts the need for workers will be driven by alternative energy and construction spending. 

Texas had more than 63,000 electricians making an annual mean wage of more than $52,000 in 2019, according to the federal agency. The Waco area had more than 500 electricians last year.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Rosenberg native serves veterans at TSTC

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Kenneth Buford served his country as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army for eight years, during which time he traveled to such places as the Middle East and South Korea. Recently the Rosenberg native’s worldly experience brought him back home to serve fellow veterans as director of veteran recruitment at Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory so far? 

Right now, given the times, assisting veterans to complete their registration applications during quarantine has been my favorite thing to do.

Is there anything in particular that you feel makes TSTC unique?

The staff and faculty at Texas State Technical College truly believe in providing students every opportunity and resource necessary to ensure their success.

What impact do you hope to have at TSTC?

During my tenure at TSTC, it is my hope to utilize my professional military and civilian experience to assist in the building of long-lasting bonds between the college itself, veteran organizations and the community. These bonds will serve as bridges connecting veterans, their dependents, and the broader community to the types of educational resources and experiences necessary to attain higher-paying employment and financial stability.

If you could give any advice to fellow veterans, what would you tell them about starting college or going back to college? 

Although many of us focus on today, it is important always to look toward the future and plan for tomorrow. The ability to earn a certificate or degree enhances individual marketability and provides us paths to employment and financial freedom.

To learn more about veteran services offered at TSTC, visit

From left to right: Vlad Hidrovo, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management, veteran and TSTC Student with Kenneth Buford. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Burford and was taken in early 2020.


TSTC Emphasizes Construction Safety to Students

(WACO, Texas) – The construction industry needs well-trained workers who have a safety-first mentality. Texas State Technical College prepares them for that. 

“We are short on workers and losing them regularly due to the retirement age,” said K. Paul Holt, president and chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America’s Central Texas Chapter in Waco. “The construction field has evolved to the point where young people getting involved in building construction technology with a construction science or engineering degree enter at a higher level and are better prepared to become leaders.”

Students in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology, Electrical Construction, Energy Efficiency Specialist, Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology and Solar Energy Technology programs take classes on building codes and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

 Hugh Whitted, an instructor in TSTC’s Solar Energy Technology program, said safety is the first thing discussed with students in all of the construction-related programs.

“Most of the students we get are students who come from rural areas and small schools that have strong vocational programs,” he said. “So, they are already fascinated with the trades anyway, and they bring that with them to TSTC.”

Bobby Horner, a graduate of TSTC’s Architectural Drafting and Design program and an inspection supervisor for the city of Waco, said students who want to pursue the construction field or its specialties need to know about International Code Council and OSHA guidelines. 

“If someone leaves TSTC and wants to be a construction manager, they are kind of geared to thinking that way,” Horner said. “They need to know the safety features.”

Holt said it is important for construction students to pay attention to what they are being taught about building codes. He said learning how to maintain safety the first time will help once they are working on job sites.

“The main thing is most construction safety is based upon common sense,” Holt said. “We have a habit of sometimes picking up bad habits or shortcuts that we don’t necessarily think about.”

The United States’ construction industry had more than 1,000 on-the-job deaths in 2018, according to OSHA, which estimates more than 500 workers’ lives could have been saved with more attention to safety.

The National Safety Council recommends that people reduce falls by not leaning or reaching while on ladders, working in inclement weather, or setting up heavy equipment on unlevel ground.

Holt said following safety and construction guidelines can mean quicker completion time for projects.

“The combination of less time off for injuries and accidents and lower insurance rates winds up being a win-win for the contractor,” Holt said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

First Cohort of Tesla START Program Students Graduate at TSTC

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

The TSTC students began the 12-week training program in March to learn the skills necessary to become 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 completed the nationwide program go on to work at a Tesla Service Center in North America.

“We are excited about this group graduating,” said Adam Barber, TSTC’s interim executive director of Workforce Training in Waco.

The program’s classes are held at the Kultgen Automotive Center on the Waco campus, but due to safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, some lessons were shifted online and to the Tesla Service Center in Dallas.

Graduates from the program’s first cohort include: Jason Hobbs of Waco, Jeremy Holmes of Sorento, Illinois, Chris McCain of El Paso, Jesus Rojas of Dallas, Aaron Rox of Frisco and Ruben Sanchez of Abilene.

Hobbs graduated from TSTC’s Waco campus in 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and certificates in Energy Efficiency Specialist and Electrical Construction. He worked in Dallas before learning about the Tesla START program and applying. Hobbs said he believes in Tesla’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Hobbs said the electrical lessons he learned at TSTC have been critical in preparing him for success in the Tesla program. He will begin work in mid-June at a Tesla Service Center in Palo Alto, California.

“It’s very real with all the preparations to move across the country,” Hobbs said. “I plan on staying with Tesla a long time.”

McCain learned about automotive technology at a college in El Paso. He was working in government when he was laid off and looked for a new career path.

McCain said his favorite part of the Tesla START program was learning the theory of how Tesla vehicles look and operate. He will begin work in mid-June at a Tesla Service Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I am excited for the move and starting something new,” McCain said.

Sanchez graduated in 2019 from TSTC’s Abilene campus with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He learned about the Tesla START program from the TSTC Alumni Network.

Sanchez said he was drawn to an interest in Tesla and its founder Elon Musk’s work.

“The (company’s) vision for the future is awesome since nobody has done this before,” he said. “It is exciting to be part of.”

Sanchez said he hopes one day to use his welding skills at SpaceX, another Musk-owned company. Meanwhile, he will begin work in late June at a Tesla Service Center in Clarkston, Michigan.

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 second cohort is scheduled to begin in August, with more cohorts to follow in 2021.

For more information on Tesla START, go to

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC celebrates its Fort Bend County campus graduates

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – One of the greatest milestones of a college career is reaching the finish line at commencement. While Texas State Technical College had to do things a little differently this semester, the team at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus wanted to give its best to the spring 2020 graduates one more time as they set off into their new careers.

 A small, socially distant celebration was held Friday, June 19, to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates who once again proved that TSTC students are nothing short of resilient.


“When we heard we would have to cancel spring commencement due to the pandemic, we knew we needed to do something to highlight the huge milestone for our spring graduates,” said TSTC campus enrollment executive Georgeann Calzada. “Celebrating something positive during this pandemic is something we were all happy to do. I hope the graduates know that we will always be here to support them, encourage them, and join in on what we know will be a lifetime of accomplishments.”


TSTC’s director of veteran recruitment in Fort Bend County, Kenneth Buford, reiterated that TSTC prides itself on maintaining connections with students, even after their time on campus is over.

“Our graduates are about to become members of a family dedicated to their success,” he said. “Their TSTC family will always be here to guide, support and encourage them.”

Christina Vargas, a TSTC assistant director of enrollment management, also offered congratulations for the graduating class.


“Every graduating class is special,” she said. “We honor every class for their hard work, but this particular group overcame some unique challenges. The pandemic took a chunk of their graduating semester and turned it upside down.”


Despite the adversity faced by students, Vargas does not doubt that they are ready for whatever their futures may bring.


“The fact that they were able to rise to the challenge and complete their degrees proves that they are more than just trained in their craft,” she said. “They have the heart and spirit to rise above adversity. That is as valuable, if not more, than any other quality.”


Fall registration is currently underway. For more information, visit


TSTC Hosts Spring Graduate Parade

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College honored its spring graduates Friday with an on-campus graduate parade.

“This is a celebration of endurance, hard work and dedication by our students and the entire Waco campus that has supported these students through this time,” said Rebeca Villanueva-Hernandez, TSTC’s campus enrollment executive.

Graduates checked in with TSTC staff in the John B. Connally Technology Center’s parking lot and received diploma covers and graduation yard signs. The actual diplomas and certificates have been mailed to graduates.

Patti Tate, TSTC’s interim provost for the Waco campus, , along with associate provosts Cindy Kimbrell and Jerome Mendias, led the procession as grand marshals. 

“They (the graduates) have really persevered through a time that was difficult for all of us,” Kimbrell said. “I think our graduation candidates could see the finish line, but they were just not sure of how to get through that uncertain time. But, they made it, and we are extremely proud of them and our faculty. The faculty came together and threw everything they had at those graduates to help them get through. I don’t think I’ve ever been more honored to be part of such a dynamic team.”

Faculty and staff lined Campus Drive to cheer on the graduates and their families. 

John Washington, an associate professor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program, said perseverance and strategic thinking will help graduates get a start in the workplace.

“Do your own research, and do not just rely on what you may read unless you personally know someone who works for the organization,” he said. “Be prepared for virtual job interviews and understand how to conduct yourself accordingly.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC Debuts New Virtual Kiosk System for Students

(WACO, Texas) – Students at three of Texas State Technical College’s campuses can now use a digital queuing system for a range of services.

Students at the Fort Bend County, Harlingen and Waco campuses can sign up at to use QLess, an online system meant to decrease the physical amount of time spent in line to meet with TSTC’s student services staff.  

Students can also download the QLess app for smartphones.

Once on the app, they can choose what office they need to visit and receive updates on their place in line.

“I think the rollout of QLess has worked really well for us thus far,” said Garrett Bratton, a TSTC program enrollment coach. “We are still learning how to use it, but it seems to be a very useful resource during this time.”

Steve Guevara, TSTC’s statewide veteran services director, said although QLess is in a testing phase, he can already tell it will improve customer service. 

QLess will be used to assist us in providing students phone or face-to-face services while allowing us to keep our social distancing,” he said. “Instead of waiting on campus, we can communicate with the student through QLess to alert them when they can stop by the office to speak to us.”

QLess is used by entities in education, government, logistics and retail. It is estimated the company has saved more than 100 million people at least 6,000 years’ worth of time waiting in line worldwide, according to company information.

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