Category Archives: Waco

TSTC to Welcome Students to Several Night Classes This Fall

(RED OAK, Texas) – Students interested in learning in the evenings this fall can pursue a range of technical programs at Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus.

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program’s daytime and evening students can finish a certificate in three semesters or an associate degree in five semesters.  

“The main reason I am offering night classes in the fall is to provide a service to the possible students that have to work during the day,” said Douglas McCuen, lead instructor of TSTC’s HVAC Technology program. “Evening students would not be able to attend any other way.”

The Precision Machining Technology programs will also offer night classes. Lyle Guinn, a program instructor, said this could allow for more daytime internship opportunities for students.

Students can also work at night in three programs that are shifting to an all-online format in the fall. The programs are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, and Cybersecurity.

“I think as we learn how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are going to be people who are underemployed and finding themselves wanting to do more in this new economy,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC’s campus provost. “By having the day and evening class options, we are certainly flexible around work schedules or providing those upscale opportunities as we help build the economy of Texas.”

TSTC will use a hybrid format for programs this fall, with some classes being taught online and others using an in-person and online learning combination. Each program will follow campus and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Area Banks Contribute to TSTC Scholarship

(WACO, Texas) – Four Central Texas banks recently made contributions to Texas State Technical College’s Helping Hands Scholarship in Waco.

American Bank, Central National Bank, Community Bank and Trust, and First National Bank of Central Texas each contributed $10,000 to help students in need.

Bill Nesbitt, chairman and chief executive officer of Central National Bank, said TSTC is an outstanding example of accountability.

“The key to our relationship with TSTC is a real strong respect for TSTC’s approach to education,” he said. “They have connected the funds that they request and receive from the state of Texas to the job they do preparing students for employment, and the better job they do, the more they get paid.”

Dan Ingham, vice president of marketing and communications at First National Bank of Central Texas, said the bank believes in giving support locally.

“We are big believers in TSTC and what they do for this community,” he said. “We see the impact with the bank and our employees, some of whom are TSTC graduates, and the customers in our community.”

Pete Rowe, vice president of development for The TSTC Foundation, said the banks acknowledge the economic benefits TSTC brings to the region and state.

“Higher wages for trained technology workers and a more trained workforce mean a greater impact on the local economy,” Rowe said. “The banks are able to help many students who are at financial risk to maintain their place and ensure that they get a degree and experience a productive career.”

The Helping Hands Scholarship is a short-term solution for students who have nonacademic financial problems preventing them from completing classes. Students who need assistance can talk to their enrollment coaches to begin the application process.

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TSTC HVAC Technology Program Receives Equipment Gift

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus has received an equipment gift from a Mansfield business.

Century A/C Supply has donated a 25-ton York package unit valued at $15,000 to the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program.

“I was not going to sell it, and I figured I would donate it for a good cause,” said Eric Huddleston, the company’s branch manager.

HVAC Technology students will use the package unit to understand the concept of three-phase wiring and how to troubleshoot three-phase motors.

Rusty Hicks, The TSTC Foundation’s corporate development officer, said the gift signifies the college’s area-wide reach. 

“We are trying to get the word out all over, not just in Ellis County, but all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” he said. “We are seeing some really good results. As long as you have good business partners like Century A/C that understand what we are doing and can donate in-kind, they too — like so many of our employers that hire our students — can see the visible results.”

Douglas McCuen, lead instructor of TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said Huddleston reached out to him earlier this year about the package unit. McCuen said he is grateful for the equipment.

“He was even kind enough to deliver the equipment to our campus,” McCuen said. “He even had the forethought to have the delivery person bring fork extensions so we could use them on the campus forklift.”

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

TSTC Programs Ready to Welcome Night Students This Fall

(HUTTO, Texas) – Students interested in learning after the sun goes down can pursue two technical programs at Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus.

Offering more opportunities to take classes at TSTC means that students can increase their opportunities in the marketplace and earn higher wages, said Lissa Adams, TSTC’s associate provost.

“We believe it is important to offer flexible schedules to meet the needs of adult learners,” she said. “For many of our nontraditional students, evening classes are attractive because they  allow them to work or take care of their family obligations during the day and attend classes either full or part time.”

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology program offers two classes per semester at night.

Curtis Christian, an instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said the night cohorts are typically made up of students already working with the desire to expand their knowledge. Most students work toward a certificate, but he said some students have been able to complete an associate degree in the evening hours.

“Because of COVID-19, everyone has to work individually,” he said. “No one can work in groups anymore. They are going to have to work on equipment by themselves.”

The Welding Technology programs will offer all of the first-semester classes and then two classes the rest of the semesters for each cohort. Students are able to work toward an associate degree or certificate.

“It is a good opportunity for working people to upgrade existing skills or gain new skills that will increase their wages or get them on a road to a career, and not just a job,” said Samara Flener, lead instructor in TSTC’s Welding Technology program.

TSTC will use a hybrid format for programs this fall, with some classes being taught online and others using an in-person and online learning combination. Each program will follow campus and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.

There is still availability for students to enroll in the two evening programs.

“I expect these programs will fill up soon because there are very few daytime spots,” said Chemese Armstrong, TSTC’s campus enrollment executive.

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Brazos Higher Education Services Corp. Donates to TSTC Scholarships

(WACO, Texas) – The Brazos Higher Education Services Corp. in Waco has given a $25,000 contribution to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus for two scholarships to help students.

“A lot of the practical things you do in terms of building skill sets for actual jobs for people coming out (of TSTC) is valuable,” said Ben Litle, the higher education services corporation’s president and chief executive officer.

The money will be split between the Texan Success Scholarship and Helping Hands Scholarship at TSTC. 

The Texan Success Scholarship was created in 2016 to help incoming TSTC students pay for their first two semesters. TSTC’s enrollment coaches and recruiters select students who have graduated from high school with at least a 2.0 grade-point average or have a minimum score of 145 on the GED, and have completed the admissions process. The scholarship is non-needs based. Chosen students receive $500 for each of the first two semesters.

The Helping Hands Scholarship is a short-term solution for students who have nonacademic financial problems preventing them from completing classes. Students who are in need of assistance can talk to their enrollment coaches to begin the application process.

“We are thankful for their gift and partnership with TSTC,” said Pete Rowe, a vice president of development  for The TSTC Foundation.

The Brazos Higher Education Services Corp. was founded in the 1970s by the late Murray Watson Jr., a former Texas legislator who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC. The nonprofit corporation provides student loans for Texans seeking higher education.

“They are great to work with,” Rowe said.

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

TSTC Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology Program Ready to Fill Jobs

(WACO, Texas) – The plumbing and pipefitting field carries the stereotype of dirty work and smelly situations.

Not so, said Chris Porter, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program in Waco.

“Plumbers regulate the safety of everyone, whether it’s water or sewage,” he said. “Someone can become a certified backflow installer/tester, an estimator, be able to build waste- or water- treatment plants, or even run their own business. Plumbing is for men and women alike.”

Paul Abrams, public relations director of Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter Services Co., which has several locations throughout Texas, said the company has a challenge nationwide in filling jobs because experienced and licensed plumbers are retiring faster than new employees can join the job market. He said geography also plays a role in recruitment because of regulation differences.

“Even larger municipalities have a separate set of rules that must be followed,” Abrams said. “Some places are known as ‘restricted markets,’ meaning only a licensed plumber can do any type of plumbing work beyond sewer and drain cleaning. Even experienced apprentice plumbers aren’t permitted to turn a wrench in restricted markets unless they’re accompanied by a license holder at the job site. This makes it tough because with licensed plumbers in such short supply, we simply can’t hire enough of them at any price.”

Abrams said in unrestricted markets, apprentices can work under a license holder’s license without him or her being on a job site. In this situation, apprentices can repair common plumbing problems and leave extensive work to experienced, licensed plumbers.

Clyff Curry, business manager and financial secretary of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices Union 529 in Waco, said people entering the field need to have a good understanding of algebra, geometry and trigonometry and be mechanically inclined.

“We try to impress upon them the importance of being at work on time, being ready to work, being in the right frame of mind, all that good stuff,” he said.

Porter said the keys to success in the plumbing and pipefitting industry are to be a quick learner and have practical skill knowledge.

“It is a hard-working industry, but the rewards can be astronomical in the end, meaning once one has acquired his/her plumbing license from the state of Texas,” he said.

The program’s faculty are continuing to plan for the fall semester.

Porter said the Plumbing Codes I and Blueprint Classes will be offered fully online this fall. The rest of the program’s classes will be offered in a hybrid format with in-person labs. 

The program still has space for students this fall.

Texas had more than 43,100 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters making an annual mean wage of $50,320 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area had the highest concentration of workers in Texas with more than 11,700. The Waco area had more than 400 workers. 

Jobs for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters are projected to rise nationally to more than 568,000 by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is being attributed to retirements, the adoption of new building codes and the need to maintain and repair plumbing systems. 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC helps unemployed workers get trained faster with RISE programs

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The new coronavirus has impacted more than just social gatherings. In Texas, nearly 1.3 million people are unemployed because of the current pandemic, and that number continues to climb.

To help Texans get back to work, Texas State Technical College is deploying the Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that will allow students to quickly learn the skills they need to help them toward a new occupation.

“With so many Texans affected by the pandemic, we wanted to offer courses that would get them the skills needed to enter into industry quickly, while also focusing on providing flexible time commitments,” said Trey Pearson, TSTC’s regional director of student recruitment. “Some of the programs are completely online, and some are taught in a hybrid format, which allows students to complete the coursework while still working or taking care of their families.”

Upon completion, students earn an Occupational Skills Award, which is the formal name for the curriculum designated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. These short-term courses provide quick and basic entry-level skills that can open up opportunities for those experiencing unemployment and are seeking to get back into the workforce.

The courses are designed to feed into the regular certificates or degrees that TSTC offers if a student wants to pursue additional skills in the field. These courses provide graduates with the ability to apply for positions in their new fields, confident that they have the knowledge to start in a new job.

The idea of shortening the time to gain needed skills to enter the workforce has been in the works, but the current economic crisis necessitated starting the programs as soon as possible.

“RISE was accelerated because of the pandemic,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “We’ve had this vision for a while to reduce the amount of time it takes for students to get quality training. The economic climate in the post-coronavirus world really created a sense of urgency for us to move quickly to be in a position to address the economic recovery in Texas.”

Students registered in the RISE program will begin this fall, and registration for the programs will be on a continuing basis.

“The registration process was kicked off in early July, and the applications have started to come in,” said TSTC Senior Vice President of Student Learning Hector Yanez. “These students will begin during our regular fall semester, and some of the programs are designed to be delivered and completed in as little as 7 1/2 weeks.”

Currently there are 12 short-term offerings available online, or via a hybrid format, but that number will change once the first cohorts complete their programs.

“As we continue to roll into the next fiscal year, the goal is to grow the inventory of options in the RISE curriculum,” Padilla said.

Tuition for these programs was also an important factor when they were being created.

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allocated federal dollars to pay for short-term credentials,” Padilla said. “We have launched Occupational Skills Awards that are eligible for this funding immediately, and we have a team working on everything that needs to be in place in order for us to have that funding available for students.”

Hands-on training is one of TSTC’s strongest attributes, and it is something that is the key to the success of the RISE program.

“Every student enrolled will have the same access and opportunities as that of the traditional TSTC college student,” Yanez added. “The TSTC resource teams have been preparing and meeting to make sure that the needs and services of these students are met and provided.”

With a quicker curriculum, TSTC is hoping to provide stability for those seeking a rapid entry into the Texas workforce.

“These programs will really allow students the opportunity to rise to the occasion,” Padilla said. “This is designed to lead to some quality employment opportunities for students, which will ultimately be very impactful.”

To learn more about TSTC’s RISE program, visit

First-generation college graduate brings passion for helping others to TSTC students

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – In the seven months that Sugar Land native Yareni Gomez has spent with Texas State Technical College as a program enrollment coach, she has not only assisted TSTC students in Fort Bend County plan for their futures, but also made it her goal that they know they can count on her for help along the way.

“I assist students with anything that they may need while they are completing their degree, from planning and registering for classes, to helping with financial aid items, and everything else in between,” she said.

Gomez is one of the familiar faces in Fort Bend County that students know they can count on as they are completing their programs.

“I am here to ensure that our students are receiving the support that they need, from the moment they submit their application, to when they walk across the stage at graduation,” she explained. “When I finish a session with a student, I want to make sure that they feel supported and know I am available to help in any way that I can.”

Gomez, a first-generation college student, hopes that those she helps do not face the same difficulties that she did when she was obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies.

“I want to help make the college journey easier for them than it was for me,” she said. “I remember how hesitant I was to ask for help my first year of college because I didn’t understand some of the higher-education lingo. I love that my position allows me to sit down with students and answer their questions to help them understand certain processes and to remind them that they have someone supporting them in their journey to earn their degree.”

Her willingness to help others succeed brought her into higher education, which came as a surprise journey that ultimately changed her life.

“I entered this career path accidentally as a student worker, and I quickly developed a passion for helping others,” she reminisced. “When I was in college, there were times that I was overwhelmed and hesitant to ask for assistance, but what made a difference for me was the staff and faculty at the University of Houston who took the time to mentor me and teach me things I needed to know.”

The guidance that Gomez received from passionate mentors at her alma mater was a factor in her decision to work in higher education herself.

“I decided to continue my work in higher education to help ensure that all students feel supported and know they have someone they can turn to for guidance and to celebrate their victories with them.”

Fall registration is underway. For more information, visit

TSTC Culinary Arts Program Adapts to New Learning Environment

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program worked in late March to accommodate a campuswide shift to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until that time the program used Moodle, the college’s open-source learning platform, on a limited basis. But Michele Brown, lead instructor of TSTC’s Culinary Arts program in Waco, said faculty members had to learn new skills quickly. The program worked with TSTC’s statewide online learning office to adapt the curriculum to an online format and still meet its teaching standards.

“It has forced us to reevaluate how we deliver material,” said Len Pawelek, statewide chair of TSTC’s Culinary Arts department. “I think it has actually been better for the students.”

Instructors have created online quizzes, directed students on ways to upload homework, and recorded lectures for online use. The faculty continues to create their own teaching videos.

One way the faculty has transitioned online is by using SoftChalk, an e-learning software for interactive course development.

“It’s a way for [the students] to use different parts of their brain,” Brown said.

Pawelek said faculty cannot forget about teaching students about soft skills. He said working in a kitchen for hours at a time can teach students about building a work ethic, punctuality, respect and other skills.

“I think in this environment, we are going to have to be creative in working with them to be successful in our industry,” Pawelek said.

Hands-on labs resumed in early May so the spring semester could be completed. The online and in-person hybrid format is being used this summer and will carry over into the fall.

“The students come in for an abbreviated period of time,” Brown said. “We don’t want people lingering.”

Dequan Carter, a third-semester Culinary Arts major from Hewitt, said he has adapted well to the hybrid way of teaching.

“I do not have any issues with doing the online section at all,” he said. “The hardest part of it is having to be in a mask (during labs),  but I understand that is necessary.”

This new way of teaching culinary arts is also being adapted as uniformly as possible at TSTC’s Harlingen and Williamson County campuses.

“I think we are dealing with a generation of students that see this hybrid system is actually more beneficial for them,” said Pawelek. “These are the kind of students that will sit down and watch YouTube videos of culinary techniques and perhaps practice them. It is really in line with how our students are learning nowadays.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC and Midlothian Forge Relationships to Increase Educational Opportunities

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus continues to strengthen relationships with municipalities throughout Ellis County. Midlothian, in the northwest part of the county, has proven to be a supportive partner in promoting technical education to residents.

“There has been a lot of collaboration with Midlothian,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost.

And, there are a lot of people in the area to recruit as potential students.

The city had more than 33,000 residents as of July 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 93 percent of residents age 25 and older have at least a high school education. Twenty-nine percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Kyle Kinateder, president and chief executive officer of the Midlothian Economic Development Corp., said TSTC plays an important  role when companies are considering sites in the city. The city has the Midlothian Business Park and RailPort Business Park where companies can consider locating.

“We provide our prospects a variety of information on the many training and educational opportunities available in our community; however, it’s far more impactful when we can connect them with one of our many existing businesses that have a positive, first-hand experience working with TSTC,” he said. “This company-to-company approach helps to ensure our prospects that TSTC was there for our existing businesses and they will be there for them too.”

Kinateder said TSTC’s Automotive Technology, Computer Aided Drafting and Design, Engineering, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology are some of the technical programs fitting in with Midlothian’s economic plans.

“A resident of Midlothian could pick from any of the programs and graduate fully qualified for the many open jobs currently available in our area,” he said.

TSTC’s Workforce Training department has done specialized training in the past for the Target Distribution Center and Gerdau Ameristeel, both in Midlothian.

Balch said Gerdau Ameristeel continues to send employees to study in the Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program. The first cohort of company workers graduated from TSTC in summer 2018.

Jayelle Kryder, Gerdau’s human resources manager, said the company has had three graduating cohorts with 31 employees and another two cohorts, or 18 workers, now studying at TSTC. She said the employees come from throughout the plant.

Kryder said TSTC has been able to adapt the curriculum to the company’s specific needs and equipment. The company works with employees’ schedules to enable them to attend classes one day a week. 

“We have been very fortunate to work with such a collaborative team at TSTC,” Kryder said. “Our employees come away from the program with comprehensive technical knowledge in industrial maintenance. We place these students in (Gerdau’s) maintenance apprenticeship positions early in the program so they can pair the technical knowledge they gain at TSTC with hands-on experience at our plant. We have found that to be the best approach to their development.”

Darrell Phillips, manager of Mid-Way Regional Airport in Midlothian, has had meetings with campus leaders on how to work together in the future.

“We do have an interest in education,” he said. “We want to do some sort of educational program at the airport for our region. I want to get the kids in our area interested in aviation. We are open to looking at some type of opportunity.”

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