Category Archives: Waco

TSTC graduate plans to expand knowledge this fall

(WACO, Texas) – Zachary Muth is planning to continue his education in the fall.

Muth, who graduated from Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program last month, wants to add an occupational skills award in welding to his associate degree.

“I plan to return this fall because the more skills I have, the better my chances of being hired,” he said. “I am currently looking at all of my options in the diesel field.”

Muth likes the options because they have one thing in common.

“I have always liked working with my hands. I was never a big fan of sitting behind a desk,” he said.

Muth was drawn to TSTC after attending an open house suggested by his high school English teacher.

“I have always been interested in cars, but I wanted to do that more as a hobby,” he said. “I was looking for a career, and after touring the diesel program, I could see myself doing this as a career.”

Entering his final semester, Muth said he overcame the challenge of motivating himself to complete online work. He said the best part of his week is when he is in the lab, completing a task.

Having experienced instructors helped him overcome other obstacles.

“I was never into the electronics and how things may work. All of the instructors are great in understanding how you need help in some areas,” he said.

The instructors also help students by bringing in company representatives for job interview sessions.

“The instructors have so many different contacts. We had a company from Georgetown in here one day for interviews,” Muth said.

Muth said he is proud of completing his associate degree work and hopes other people look at TSTC for a career.

“If you have recruiters come to your campus, listen to what they have to say,” he said. “TSTC is a good launching point for a lot of hands-on skills.”

As for the fall, Muth is ready to learn a different trade in welding. The occupational skills award allows students to take a nine-week course to learn basic technical skills needed for an entry-level career.

“I am ready to learn a different skill to help me with a career,” he said. “I am excited to be part of the welding program and look forward to what I learn.”

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TSTC graduate wins first place at Waco arts event

(WACO, Texas) – A Texas State Technical College graduate recently placed first in the Wacotown Chalk + Walk arts event sponsored by Creative Waco.

Shay MacMorran, of Waco, graduated in 2003 with an associate degree in Commercial Art and Advertising. She is currently a graphic designer at Winstar Marketing in Austin but works remotely from her home. The company specializes in apparel, promotional items, social media and web design.

What took place during the competition? 

A bunch of artists and businesses paired together, but businesses could pay for a certain artist. They worked together to make a design for the street or a wall.

I teamed up with LaSalle Shoppes to create a chalk design on Austin Avenue. They do antiques, so we decided to do an “I Love Lucy” crossover with “I Love LaSalle Shoppes.” There is specific street chalk we can use, and also spray paint chalk. You just get into a zone and just go. It’s big, but you have to spend several hours working on it.

Creative Waco and some other groups are working very hard to make the arts scene in Waco more visible. Artists are solitary creatures. You don’t really get out there and see other artists because you are working at home doing your thing. This is a way to bring everyone together.

I was confident, but there are about 50 other artists there. It was based on voting, so you do not know how people will vote. I chose a spot in the LuluBelle’s Market at Magnolia’s Silobration in October in Waco.

What is your job like? 

It’s a little different every day. Most of the time, it is laying out uniforms, but I also do a lot of T-shirt and logo designs.

We usually do a lot of things by Zoom, mostly because of the pandemic. We have quarterly team meetings where we have lunch and folks can come out and talk. It’s a small group, so we are all tight-knit. We talk by email. 

Because I work from home, I can home-school my son, work on personal art projects when I have extra time, and spend time with our dog. It is just a lot more freeing than working in an office. 

What factored into your decision to attend TSTC? 

I wanted to do something with art, and it just seemed like the best fit for me at the time. We didn’t have a lot of money for a huge school. TSTC gave me everything I needed to get started. I went in not knowing how to use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. I was just a traditional artist. I would always draw or paint. I use Adobe products every single day now.

What advice do you have for people interested in pursuing the design field? 

I think it would help to have a creative eye. Otherwise, it is going to be more difficult if you do not have one. Having the ability to take criticism without taking it personally is good.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, graphic designers in Texas make a yearly median salary of more than $49,000. The state is projected to need more than 20,000 graphic designers by 2028, the third-highest number in the country.

TSTC offers an online associate degree in Visual Communication Technology. Students can gain hands-on experience in art direction, digital publishing and graphic design, and do a required commercial art and advertising internship.

Registration is underway for the fall, and scholarships are available. For more information, go to 

TSTC Precision Machining Technology program prepares graduates for in-demand jobs

(RED OAK, Texas) – From smartphones to the hubcaps on vehicles, precision machining is a critical component of our lives.

“(Many human-made things would) not exist without a machine and its components,” said Nathan Cleveland, acting statewide lead in Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program and associate provost at TSTC in Marshall.

Cleveland said high school students need to be more exposed to what precision machining is, along with its career stability and income potential. He said most students who enter TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program usually know someone already in the industry. The program’s classes at the North Texas campus are taught at night.

Lyle Guinn, the lead instructor for TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program in North Texas, said students entering the program should be good at spatial thinking, have a mechanical aptitude and understand geometry.

Cleveland said the kinds of jobs that program graduates want depend on the area of Texas where they want to live. He said while East Texas has many production jobs, the Houston area has many oil and gas industry jobs. The career niche that graduates shift into will factor into their income.

“A lot of it is where they (graduates) want to live, what kind of benefits they want and if they want to continue on in their education,” Guinn said. “A lot of the companies you go to work for as a machinist will continue to pay for your education.”

Companies that have sought machining workers in the last few months in North Texas include Amazon, Bridgestone/Firestone, Sabre Industries Inc. and FedEx, according to Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas.

Industrial engineering technologists and technicians have the highest hourly wage for experienced workers among machining-type jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at more than $40, according to data from Workforce Solutions. The second-highest hourly wage for experienced workers is more than $39 for metal and plastic model makers.

Workforce Solutions’ 16-county area has more than 7,700 machinists and more than 6,600 metal and plastics machine tool cutting setters, operators and tenders.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, computer numerical controlled tool programmers are making a yearly median salary of more than $57,000 in Texas. Jobs are concentrated in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and a certificate of completion in Machining. 

Registration continues for the fall semester. Scholarships are available. For more information, go to

TSTC Instrumentation Technology graduates play critical role in workforce

(WACO, Texas) – Instrumentation plays a critical role in the operation of oil refineries, petrochemical facilities, and power generation plants. Workers use programmable logic controllers, calibrate equipment, and maintain the control of flows, levels, temperatures, and pressures for production.

Many of Texas State Technical College’s Instrumentation Technology graduates either have jobs before they graduate or shortly thereafter.

Program faculty said they have noticed a change in hiring patterns during the pandemic, but companies are starting to reach back out to TSTC. Mike Martin, a faculty member in TSTC’s Instrumentation Technology program, said Celanese, Dow Chemical Co. and Phillips 66 are some of the companies that have hired TSTC graduates in the past.

“We still have students interviewing for jobs,” Martin said. “We have some waiting for final replies back from companies.”

Robert Lovelace, TSTC’s statewide lead in the Instrumentation Technology program, said graduates tend to go to work for refineries and power plants after graduation.

The Luminant Generation-owned Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Somervell County has hired several TSTC graduates. The plant employs about 1,300 employees and has two nuclear reactors.

Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers said Comanche Peak is a valuable asset to that area. The power plant pulls in workers not only from throughout the county but from neighboring counties as well. And those workers need some sort of education to handle the daily grind of producing power.

“When you get an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, it opens doorways and leads to a better future,” Chambers said.

Chambers is familiar with TSTC, having taken Automotive Technology classes there himself. His son graduated from TSTC’s Electrical Power and Controls program in Waco.

Chambers said the county benefits from having the nuclear plant by way of property taxes, which the city of Glen Rose does not receive. But the city reaps the benefits of tax money as out-of-town workers sleep in hotels, eat in restaurants, buy gas and shop for groceries during planned plant outages.

“Without the power plant, Glen Rose would not be what it is now,” Chambers said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, power plant operators in Texas make a yearly median salary of more than $78,000. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers in the state make a yearly median salary of more than $76,000. The state will need more than 13,000 workers by 2028.

The Instrumentation Technology program has over 100 students taking classes this summer. Students work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Instrumentation Technology. Martin said the students attracted to the program typically know someone who works in the industry.

Starting this fall, Instrumentation Technology students will be in labs for longer periods. Lovelace said seven of the program’s 12 classes will have lab time expanded by an hour with less lecture time. He said the program’s goal is to provide more hands-on experiences for students.

Instrumentation Technology is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee initiative, which enables students who do not find a job in their profession within six months of graduation to have their tuition refunded.

Registration continues for the fall, and scholarships are available. For more information, go to

TSTC Aviation Maintenance program eager to fill Texas jobs

(WACO, Texas) – As the aviation industry continues to grow in Texas, so does the need for more mechanics and technicians.

“The aviation maintenance industry is picking up steam really quickly,” said Robert Capps, Texas State Technical College’s statewide lead in the Aviation Maintenance program. “When COVID-19 hit, a lot of the airlines started temporarily mothballing airplanes. As air traffic is picking up, pulling them out of storage is a lot of work to keep them in regular service.”

Capps said a lot of aviation mechanics who left as the pandemic raged on took retirement packages or left the industry for other jobs. He said many of those workers will stay retired, making room for new workers.

Trim Aire Aviation in Mexia is currently searching for an aircraft structure mechanic and paying between $18 and $28 an hour, according to

“Right now we are working on some applications that are finally coming in here,” said Buddy Miller, Trim Aire’s owner. 

In the past, Miller said it has taken a while to fill technician and mechanic positions. The business has 11 people working on airplanes, with five being licensed mechanics. The remaining workers are apprentices and helpers.

Miller said apprenticeships are a great way for people interested in the aviation maintenance field to get valuable job experience. During their apprenticeships, they can work toward an airframe and powerplant certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ricky Rodriguez, vice president of aircraft maintenance at Texas Aero in Waco, said he likes to hire military veterans because of their mindset and experience.

But he said it is challenging to find qualified people holding airframe and powerplant certifications who want to work in general aviation. Rodriguez said the certificate provides many opportunities for people to work anywhere in the country and make good money.

“It seems like as soon as they come out of school, the airlines come in and swoop them up,” he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, aircraft mechanics and service technicians make a yearly median salary of more than $66,000. The highest concentration of workers is in the Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas. Texas is projected to need more than 19,300 workers by 2028, the highest number in the country.

TSTC offers associate degree programs in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology and certificates in Aircraft Airframe Technician and Aircraft Powerplant Technician.

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. Scholarships are also available. For more information, go to 

TSTC Welding Technology students show off skills at competition

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Eight Texas State Technical College Welding Technology students showed off their skills at the 2021 Andrew Noppe Memorial Welding Competition.

Omar De La Cruz Moreno finished fourth in the Level 1 competition in which he had to weld a single-sided vertical groove on a carbon steel plate using the shielded metal arc welding process. Moreno’s piece passed the visual and X-ray examinations to earn certification in the welding process.

Moreno was not alone in earning certification honors during the competition, which was held at R&N Manufacturing in Cypress.

Jerroll Hodge, a TSTC welding instructor, said four students earned certification on April 24 for passing both the visual and X-ray examinations. 

Jacob Picazo earned certification on the Level 2 shielded metal arc welding process for his work on a pipe.

In the Level 3 event, Jose Perez Jr., Angel Rodriguez and Mason Stanley  earned certification for their work on a pipe using the gas tungsten arc welding process for the root pass and shielded metal arc welding process for the fill and cap passes.

“The students enjoyed going to an event and competing,” Hodge said. “It also opened our students to the possibility of earning additional certifications on certain types of welds.”

Also representing TSTC was Zach Follis in Level 1 and Diego Almaraz and Nick Dunn in Level 3.

“Everyone was really into the activities being held at the competition. It was the first time we have attended an event like this, and I look forward to returning to additional contests,” Hodge said.

The Texas High School Welding Series hosted the event that featured 72 competitors from eight colleges. In addition to TSTC, competitors represented Arclabs Welding School, Elite Pipe Welding Academy, Lamar Institute of Technology, Mainliners Welding Academy, Precision Welding Academy and Wharton County Junior College.

Hodge said he learned of the event during a welding competition in Huntsville earlier this year. He discussed it with his students and completed the registration process.

“I beat the deadline by a few days, and I am glad we were there,” he said.

Hodge was also able to promote TSTC during the high school competition, which was held the same day. With more than 130 students from 12 high schools in attendance, Hodge spoke to as many students as possible.

“It was good to be able to watch the high school kids compete and talk to them about our program,” he said. “This was a great recruiting effort for us.”

Hodge hopes that attending the competition sparks more interest in his students and plans to study ways to host an event on campus in the future.

“It would be good for TSTC to showcase our facilities during a competition,” he said. “I hope we will be able to do that someday.”

TSTC alumnus motivated to help others in medical field

(WACO, Texas) – Motivation is not a problem for Andrew Grisham.

“With life in general, every day is a new day,” he said. “Anything can happen on any given day. Just seeing what happens is a motivator for me.”

Grisham, who grew up in Robinson and is a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Biomedical Equipment Technology program in Waco, is a medical imaging engineer at Tri-Imaging Solutions in Fort Collins, Colorado. He works from home and covers four hospitals, doing preventive maintenance and emergency repairs on Toshiba Aquilion CT scanners. He recently celebrated his first anniversary with the company.

When he gets service calls, he goes to the hospital with the problem and talks to staff. He works with the equipment until the problem can be figured out. Grisham is able to call the company to work through problems, if needed. Parts can also be ordered and delivered in less than 24 hours. His work sometimes requires him to go to Phoenix, Arizona, to do equipment repairs.

“You do travel, depending on who you work for,” Grisham said. “It is not the same work every day. You always have something new coming up. You also get to work in air conditioning in a hospital setting. You get great pay and benefits.”

Grisham enjoys his job because he sees how relieved hospital staff are when machines are up and running.

“No matter what, you always have an opportunity to work,” he said.

Grisham also likes his downtime from work, which he spends eating at new restaurants and hiking.

“I live at the edge of the Rockies, which is beautiful,” he said. “I get to experience a different culture in Colorado.”

Grisham is a graduate of Robinson High School. Between graduation and when he enrolled at TSTC, he worked various jobs.

“I did bartending for nine years,” Grisham said. “I was with an agency for acting and modeling. The year before I went to TSTC, I was living in Indiana doing construction there. That is where I found I liked working with my hands.”

A friend recommended that Grisham take a look at TSTC. When he reviewed the list of programs, he decided what to study.

“I wanted to help people, but I can’t do blood,” he said. “Nursing is out of the question. I figured if I could help maintain machines, it can help a doctor or nurse save a life.”

Grisham graduated in summer 2020 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Imaging Systems Technology Specialization.

“Andrew was an excellent student with high energy who took his training seriously in both lecture and lab,” said Victor Fowler, an instructor in TSTC’s Medical Imaging Systems Technology Specialization program. “He quickly gained confidence working on medical imaging systems and secured a job before his last semester was over.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to 

TSTC Digital Media Design graduates eye diverse work options

(WACO, Texas) – Recent graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Digital Media Design program have an impressive array of career options.

Pleasanton native Hannah Selby works at a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary as a marketing coordinator and real estate photographer. Abilene resident Arabel Mullen aspires to be a professional illustrator and already has sold a client some illustrations for a book. 

The two women have graduated from TSTC’s Digital Media Design program and are taking opposite career paths, but both have been trained in traditional graphic design skills and industry software like Adobe Creative Suite. 

“The day-to-day usage of digital media design has really helped me in my current job,” Selby said. “I work full time for a real estate agency, and I handle all of their graphic design and social media. But I’ll be changing careers a bit, doing real estate photography.” 

Selby described how much she enjoyed taking photography classes and learning more in-depth skills like Photoshop and lighting techniques. Even though her degree might suggest a 9-to-5 career in graphic design is in her future, Selby says she plans to keep it part-time and focus on photography.   

“I’ll be doing contract graphic design for a few small businesses, including a T-shirt design company, and offering my contract services to an advertising agency in San Antonio,” Selby said. “I really appreciate how working in this field, you have the opportunity to set your own schedule. I might even start my own agency down the line.” 

Jerry Vavra, TSTC’s chair of the Digital Media Design program, noted that students have an open and lucrative job field to look forward to. Instead of being limited strictly to digital design, students gain a tool belt of skills they can take anywhere. 

“The job outlook for this program is always strong. We’re not just thinking of local areas and campuses; we’re thinking of the entire state of Texas,” Vavra said. “With a quick search of the job title ‘graphic designer’ in Google for Texas, hundreds of jobs are showing up.” 

Vavra emphasized the breadth of specialized avenues available to students in the Digital Media Design program. 

“Graphic designer is sometimes a job title that other specific titles get lumped into. But we have specific areas that students can go into that are a bit outside that realm,” Vavra said. “They can be videographers, animators, web designers and illustrators.”  

Defining herself as more of the traditionally artistic persuasion, Mullen aspires to work as an illustrator for herself or with an agency. Formerly a cake decorator, Mullen decided to pursue her dream of being an illustrator and researched careers she could enter that would be both profitable and fulfilling. 

“I wanted to be a traditional artist when I graduated high school, but there’s the saying ‘starving artist,’” Mullen said. “I found TSTC and spoke with some instructors about the design program. They explained all the things I could do with design, including starting my own business.” 

Mullen’s personal brand and online store Novel Insights can be found on Etsy, though she dreams of working with a creative team such as those at Chris Do’s studios The Futur and Blind, and putting her graphic design training to work. 

“There’s so many avenues you can take with this program. We learn so many different aspects of design, from graphics to photography to videography, and some animation,” Mullen said. “Going forward, I think that being a digital artist will be a really successful career in our world of technology.” 

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to 

Navy veteran expands work skills at TSTC

(WACO, Texas) – U.S. Navy veteran Jake Jordan wanted to expand his work skills.

During his 17-year military career, Jordan was a welder. After retirement, he tried his hand at various jobs in the Austin area.

“It was not a good fit for me,” he said of a career in welding.

He knew Texas State Technical College offered various skilled workforce programs and decided to enroll in Diesel Equipment Technology. Now he is a candidate to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree this month.

“While I was in the Navy, I worked around a lot of diesel and big equipment,” he said. “I was never part of the mechanical end but was an operator. I decided to learn more about it.”

Jordan was also pushed toward the diesel field by a neighbor. His neighbor knew the importance of diesel mechanics in Texas. According to, the need for diesel engine specialists in Texas is expected to grow by 14% by 2028.

“My neighbor works for an oil company as a diesel technician and makes really good money. His company flies him everywhere to work on generators,” he said. “He said I should check the field out because you never know what will be needed in the future.”

Jordan took the advice — and his military knowledge — with him to class. What he found was a new world of learning.

“I was familiar with some of the equipment, but I was surprised with the new technology,” he said. “I consider myself to be mechanical in nature. That lifestyle suits me because I like to see how things work.”

The hands-on approach to learning was Jordan’s best experience.

“You can’t teach on a computer basis only. You need to have that mock-up like we have in the lab,” he said. “You need to be able to go in and touch, look and even smell the problem. You have to rely on your instincts and not just a computer.”

TSTC has been a tradition in Jordan’s family. His grandfather was an instructor in the building trade program in the 1970s, and his father was a Diesel Equipment Technology student.

“I always knew TSTC would be a source of knowledge for me,” he said.

Jordan initially wanted to become a welding instructor to pass his knowledge on to the next generation. He earned an associate degree in welding from TSTC in East Williamson County, but he could never get a teaching position.

“I decided to return to college and enrolled in the diesel program, thinking it would put another notch on my belt,” he said. “I knew another degree would look good on my resume.”

Jordan has not given up on a teaching position. He said having TSTC Career Services helping him with his resume and interview skills will help him in the future.

“Career Services has helped me with my resume and what I have been doing wrong,” he said. “Having someone helping me with the little things like that is a great resource.”

Jordan said military veterans should look into the different opportunities at TSTC.

“(TSTC offers) so much help to veterans and all of their students. TSTC is helping me in different ways, and for that, I will be appreciative for a lifetime,” he said.

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Third cohort of Tesla START program graduates at TSTC

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

The TSTC students began the 12-week training program in January 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 TSTC’s Waco campus.

“We are excited and proud of the third graduating class from the Tesla START program in Waco,” said Adam Barber, TSTC’s interim executive director of Workforce Training. “We look forward to the next class and continued partnership with Tesla.”

Graduates of the program’s third cohort are Jake Byrnes, of Montgomery, Texas; Malaika Marler, of Killeen, Texas; Caitlin McKamey, of Portland, Texas; Kyle Rivas, of Flower Mound, Texas; Jeremiah Sowells, of Fenton, Louisiana; Nick Tobey, of Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada; Jacob Vest, of Wasilla, Alaska; and Kelton Williams, of St. George, Utah.

Mark Tosto, a Tesla START program instructor, said he was proud of the work the students did during the training period. He said a highlight for the students was working for two weeks at a Tesla Service Center in Oklahoma.

Vest said he has been interested in Tesla’s work since he was 16. When his plans fell through to study electromechanical engineering in Alaska, he searched online and came across the Tesla START program.

“I wanted to be somewhere warm for the first time,” he said.

Vest said he gained an appreciation during the program for the quality that goes into constructing every Tesla vehicle. He said he looks forward to exploring the East Coast as he moves in mid-May to Massachusetts to begin work at a Tesla Service Center.

Byrnes not only completed the Tesla program during the spring semester, but he also finished an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology at TSTC. He had online classes for the semester, enabling him to devote time to learning about Tesla’s vehicles.

“Getting into the theory of the cars and the engineering was cool,” he said.

Byrnes will move in mid-May to California to work at a Tesla Service Center.

McKamey studied automotive technology while taking dual credit classes in high school and earning an associate degree at a two-year college in the Corpus Christi area. Her high school classes sparked an interest in electric vehicles.

The program expanded her knowledge of what she said is the future of transportation.

“I loved it,” McKamey said. “I went from not knowing how to unlock and lock a vehicle to tearing it apart.”

She will be relocating in mid-May to Utah to work at a Tesla Service Center.

There are currently seven other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. The program launched in 2019 and has had more than 300 graduates to date.

The program’s 2021 cohorts in Waco are full, but interviews for 2022 cohorts are taking place, Tosto said.

For more information on Tesla START, go to

For more information on TSTC, go to