Category Archives: Waco

TSTC’s HVAC Technology Program Encourages Preventive Maintenance Ahead of Winter

(WACO, Texas) – Though the first cold front of the fall has not rolled through Central Texas yet, now is the time for consumers to think about testing their heating units so they can stay warm this winter.

“This is a good time to fire them up,” said Gary Lawson, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program in Waco.

Lawson said state-licensed contractors should be called to look at heating systems before the temperature drops. He said this is critical, especially for those with gas heaters.

Lawson advised people not to overly react if they smell something smoldering when heaters are turned on the first time.

“That is dust on the heat exchanger, or if it is a new one, it’s oil,” he said. “It burns off quickly.”

Lawson said people should check their carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. And, they should look at digital thermometers to maintain accuracy.

Brayden Stanley, a TSTC HVAC Technology major from College Station, said people should check and replace filters and look at their heating system’s coils.

“Dirty coils won’t allow your condenser to reject heat,” Stanley said.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 49 percent of the country’s homes run on natural gas, while 34 percent use electricity. The agency recommends people set thermostats as low and comfortable as possible and install low-noise, high-efficiency exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to save on heating costs.

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TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Program Offers Hands-On Experience

(WACO, Texas) – Tyler Residori of Robinson is a Texas State Technical College student who has always had an interest in heavy equipment. As he said, he was “always tinkering with something” at a young age.

Residori is pursuing a degree in the Diesel Equipment Technology program that is providing him with exceptional experience.

The Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology – John Deere Construction and Forestry gives students real-time experience in the construction world. 

Students who pursue this degree are required to be sponsored by a John Deere dealer that they plan to work for after graduation. This requires an internship with any John Deere equipment dealer across the state of Texas.

Residori is currently sponsored by RDO Equipment Co. in Hewitt, where he has worked for seven months as a heavy-equipment technician. Moving into the John Deere program was, and continues to be, a challenge for him.

“Nothing is easy,” he said. “You don’t see the same problem every day.”

While the degree program has its challenges, Residori said, “If you like working on heavy equipment, do it.”

The benefit for students who choose this degree plan is that if they maintain a 3.0 GPA, then the company will reimburse their tuition over the course of four to five years.

Another benefit is job security at a chosen John Deere dealership after they graduate. TSTC instructor Daniel Phillips said students have an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a realistic setting. 

“They are learning at school and getting hands-on experience all at the same time, and they don’t have to worry about getting a job when they graduate,” Phillips said. 

Lead instructor David Folz said the department has always had good luck placing its students in good jobs.

“If they are willing to work and they can present themselves, they have a job right now,” Folz said.

The Diesel Equipment Technology program also offers associate degrees in Heavy Truck and Off Highway Equipment. 

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Mart Students Look to TSTC to Bolster Career Chances

(WACO, Texas) – Steven Sanchez of Mart is rolling through his first semester at Texas State Technical College.

Sanchez is balancing classes in the Cyber Security program and working part time at a Waco restaurant making sushi. He works three days a week on afternoon shifts and attends classes five days a week at TSTC.

“Making the sushi is pretty easy,” he said. “You have to know the combinations with the names. There is dexterity with the hand movement.”

Though there is pressure to create tightly rolled sushi to satisfy customers, Sanchez said he does not feel the heat being the first member of his family to go to college. He said he chose Cyber Security because it sounded intriguing.

“The work is challenging, considering I’m new at it,” he said.

Sanchez graduated ninth in a graduating class of 35 students earlier this year at Mart High School. The Mart native said he had a goal during his freshman year of high school to finish as close to the top of his class as he could.

He said teachers encouraged him and other students to take a look at TSTC after high school.

“Part of it was money,” Sanchez said. “I looked at the best choice.”

This semester, there are several TSTC students with Mart ties studying in technical programs such as Electrical Power and Controls, Environmental Technology Compliance, Occupational Safety Compliance Technology and Welding Technology.

Lisa Byrd, Mart High School’s counselor and testing coordinator, said students can utilize local scholarships provided by churches, families and organizations. She said more than $100,000 was given to the high school’s Class of 2019.

“Our community is absolutely amazing when it comes to sending kids to college,” Byrd said.

Byrd said parents and students should select colleges that are practical and fit with their life goals.

For Jacob Burney of Hallsburg, the fall semester signaled a return to TSTC. He graduated in 2015 from Mart High School and began studying Computer Science, but he dropped out to do maintenance work.

Burney said this time at TSTC feels different.

“Now I’m a more level-headed and responsible person,” he said.

Burney said he wanted to return to college because he wants to make more money.

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TSTC Career Services Hosts Mock Interview Sessions for Students

(RED OAK, Texas) – Thirteen students in the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus had the opportunity Wednesday morning to sit down with industry representatives to practice interview skills.

TSTC’s Career Services department hosted mock interviews in timed sessions for students to learn about their weaknesses and strengths and how to improve.

“I think it served a good purpose for our students,” said Peter Collier, a TSTC Career Services associate.

Jack Cahill of Lewisville is scheduled to graduate in spring 2020 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He said his interviewer commended him on his enthusiasm.

“It was very valuable,” Cahill said. “I know next time I go into an interview what to expect and how to tackle situations.”

Hayden Rieper of Waxahachie is a Diesel Equipment Technology certificate student who said his interviewer liked his ability to answer questions and how he dressed.

“I learned how to go in more confident and know what to expect from an interview,” he said.

Carlo Amato, director of human resources at construction chemicals manufacturer Mapei Corp. in Deerfield Beach, Florida, which also has a location in Garland, said he was impressed with the students he met.

“I thought the students were earnest and likeable,” he said. “They were open about who they were and what they wanted.”

Amato said while some students need to work on their confidence, each came prepared to answer questions provided by Career Services.

“I see a bright future for all of them,” he said.

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Mexia Students, Staff at TSTC Want to Motivate Others

(WACO, Texas) – Tyrez and Tyler Hines are getting used to the daily commute from their home in Mexia to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus.

But Tyrez Hines admitted he was worried at first about the cost of gasoline.

“Once you pray about it and do what you need to do, you do it,” he said.

The brothers are in their first semester in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. They have the same schedule, which enables them to learn about college readiness, technical calculations and blueprint reading together.

“For me, I have always been good with my hands,” Tyler Hines said. “I want to know what the problem is, why it is happening and how to fix it.”

For Tyrez Hines, the decision about what he would study came down to looking at his future.

“I want to be able to fix stuff around the house,” he said. “I want to know how to fix anything people would have to call someone to fix.”

After graduation, the brothers want to stay in the Mexia area and have a home construction business.

The brothers are among more than 20 students from Mexia who are enrolled this semester at TSTC’s Waco campus, with some in the Diesel Equipment Technology; Electrical Power and Controls; and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology programs.

TSTC HVAC Technology instructor Gary Lawson’s ties to Mexia run as deep as the soil he steps on to coach youth sports. Lawson grew up in Mexia and proudly displays a Mexia Black Cats seat cushion and family photos in his office.

And, he is eager to use his position at TSTC to encourage students from Mexia to think about their possibilities after high school.

“I want to see every one of them succeed,” Lawson said. “I am coaching kids from about 4 or 5 to high school age.The kids in Mexia are resilient. They don’t need much to survive. They just need someone to be there for them.”

Lawson wants to be an example for students to see.

He attended Mexia schools until seventh grade, but he graduated in 2005 from Hubbard High School. After high school, Lawson worked for a five-generation, family-owned HVAC business in Waco.

He graduated in 2010 from TSTC’s HVAC Technology program.

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TSTC’s Student Support Services Holds Open House

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Student Support Services held an open house on Thursday to celebrate its new and larger space at the Murray Watson Jr. Student Recreation Center.

Student Support Services provides child care assistance, a clothing closet, community resources, a food pantry and a lending library free to enrolled TSTC students.

“I just like being able to help anyway I can,” said Misty Kaska, Student Support Services’ coordinator.

Students needing child care can get information on state-licensed day care centers and after-school programs, said Kaska. Job interview-style clothing is available to students during the semester in which they are scheduled to graduate, and they can take advantage of a cap-and-gown loan program.

Students seeking assistance from the food pantry can pick up bags every 10 days.

“We try to not let them go shopping because we have to spread the love as much as we can,” Kaska said.

Kaska said students with at least a 2.0 grade point average and taking more than six semester credit hours can borrow books and tools for technical classes. She said industry code books and general academic books are not available.

Allison Haynes, a Cloud Computing major from Orange, Texas, and president of TSTC’s Student Government Association, said she utilizes the lending library because it works for her finances. She said having this and other services is good for students, especially those who are new to the campus and are learning to live on their own.

“Being away from home, they may not know what they need,” Haynes said. “It fills in the gaps to provide for themselves.”

Student Support Services was previously located at the Student Services Center.

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TSTC Student-Run Restaurant to Open Sept. 25

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program will begin serving for the fall semester at its student-run restaurant on Wednesday, Sept. 25. 

The restaurant is located in the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center on Campus Drive and is open to the public. Students in the program will prepare meals with chosen themes every week such as Peru, Central Mexico and Parisienne Bistro. 

Culinary instructor Marc Silvas said he is excited to see what the students will do with the themes they have chosen.

“All of them are very unique and have something to bring to the table,” Silvas said.

Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from Sept. 25 to Nov. 27.

The serving days and themes are:

Sept. 25 and Sept. 27: Texas

Oct. 2 and Oct. 4: Peru

Oct. 9 and Oct. 11: Central Mexico

Oct. 16 and Oct. 18: Parisienne Bistro (French)

Oct. 23 and Oct. 25: Chef’s Choice

Oct. 30 and Nov. 1: Peru

Nov. 6 and Nov. 8: Central Mexico

Nov. 20 and Nov. 22: Parisienne Bistro (French)

Nov. 27: Live-Action Buffet 

Menus and dates are subject to change without notice.

Call 254-867-4868 to make reservations. Reservations are not accepted on serving days. Customers should arrive 15 minutes before their seating time.

The restaurant is not providing to-go orders this semester. 

For menus and other information, visit or the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center at TSTC in Waco Facebook page.


TSTC’s Schneider Selected to Compete in Singapore

(WACO, Texas) – Mark Schneider, division director of Culinary Arts at Texas State Technical College, has been selected to compete at Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) Food & Beverage 2020 next  spring in Singapore.

Schneider was selected because of his membership in the Epicurean World Master Chefs Society. This will be his first international competition, which takes place March 31 to April 3, 2020. He will be on a team of up to five American chefs, along with a support staff.

“The Singapore competition is touted as one of the toughest in the world,” he said.

Schneider will compete in the seafood category, creating three identical plated dishes using grouper and scallops. He will also incorporate garnishes, starches and vegetables in his presentation. And, he has 45 minutes to do it all.

“You have to fabricate the fish there, which is a little time-consuming,” Schneider said.

Schneider will create the dish and design the plating throughout the fall semester with timed practices starting in February. Some of TSTC’s Culinary Arts students will help him during the 15 practice sessions he hopes to have before leaving.

He will also plan what ingredients to take with him overseas.

“I know what I can get in an American market, but what can I get in a Singapore market?” he mused.

Schneider hopes to learn about Singapore’s culinary scene during his downtime on the trip. He said this could involve visiting a food market or going to a lesson and lecture.

“Food is allowing me to travel the world and experience flavors and spices,” he said. “To bring all that back to TSTC is amazing.”

Chef Marc Silvas, a TSTC Culinary Arts instructor, said students have a lot to learn from Schneider and the rest of the program’s faculty.

“It shows what the students can strive toward,” Silvas said. “They have a front-row seat to what is happening. They can experience what it takes at that level.”

FHA Food & Beverage 2020 will feature more than 2,000 exhibitors in 54 pavilions at the Singapore EXPO Convention and Exhibition Centre. About 48,000 attendees from 100 countries and regions are expected to attend, according to event information.

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TSTC Program Receives Diesel Truck

(WACO, Texas) – It is blue, shiny and looms large at Texas State Technical College.

Portland, Oregon-based Daimler Trucks North America LLC recently gave TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program a 2010 Freightliner Coronado SD. The in-kind gift is valued at $40,000.

The diesel truck will be stationary for students to learn about air conditioning, brakes, electrical and other components during hands-on lessons.

“Once they (the students) do something, they tend to remember,” said David Folz, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program in Waco.

The diesel truck was previously a test unit, said Lisa Pulaski, Daimler Trucks North America’s specialty used vehicles operations manager.

“We would test components on it and it had gotten to the end of its life cycle with us,” she said.

The company typically donates its diesel trucks after their usage.

“We donate so diesel technician students can get a hold of actual trucks,” Pulaski said. “We donate to technical colleges to train future diesel technicians.”

Folz said the donation process took about eight months.

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TSTC Alumna Keeping an Eye Out for Safety in Austin

(WACO, Texas) – Tristan Landers compares working at a construction site to saving lives in a hospital.

“Commercial construction in general is very comfortable for me,” said Landers, a graduate of Texas State Technical College and a health, safety and environmental senior coordinator for the Austin area for Flintco. “It is very much like working in an emergency room. You never know what is going to happen. I kind of look at it as I save lives every day, only I do it before people get hurt. And in the process, I get to build $300 million buildings.”

Landers’ work touches on all aspects of construction, including contracts, bids, case management, insurance, pre tax planning and risk management. She also deals with city, state and federal building and environmental regulations.

Texas currently has more than 3,600 health and safety engineers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career field is projected to increase to more than 28,000 workers nationwide through 2028, according to the agency.

“There are not enough human beings out there working every day in these jobs and roles to keep these guys safe,” Landers said. “As a safety professional in the construction industry, that’s good for TSTC. Grow those safety professionals, and get them into the field.”

Landers grew up in Lorena and is a graduate of Lorena High School. She studied nursing and worked as a trauma nurse for 12 years before making a career change.

She graduated in 2015 from TSTC with associate degrees in Environmental Technology Compliance and Occupational Safety Compliance Technology. She was also president of the American Society of Safety Professionals’ on-campus student chapter.

“I liked the occupational safety compliance part of it because I was very familiar with part of it being in nursing,” Landers said. “I took one class with Mr. (Lester) Bowers and decided to do the environmental degree.”

Martin Knudsen, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program in Waco, said Landers’ profession is tailor-made for her.

“I knew from the very start, she was highly motivated,” he said. “She’s definitely chosen a field that is male-dominated. It goes to show if you have the right tenacity, you can overcome any stereotyping.”

After graduating, Landers did safety work in Waco and Arlington before moving to Austin.

“For me, TSTC was very important and critical to me being able to go out into the workforce and function as an independent safety professional,” Landers said. “Coming from an associate degree program, I was more ready to hit the workforce than a lot of people coming out of a bachelor’s program. You cover so much information in the time you are there, and it is permanent and relevant.”

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