Category Archives: Waco

TSTC diesel program powers students’ success

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The construction and transportation industry in the Houston area and statewide is rapidly growing, meaning that a skilled workforce is very much in demand.

Texas State Technical College is helping to fill that need with its technical programs like Diesel Equipment Technology.

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology instructor Brandon Foster said that program faculty receive numerous calls from employers who have attended Employer Spotlights on campus and want to recruit TSTC graduates.TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology

“Our graduates are in high demand. Skilled diesel technicians are in high demand,” he said. “And we’re working diligently to ensure that our graduates are job-ready.”

To accomplish that, the program focuses on hands-on training to teach the appropriate skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry.

Students have access to a large shop that is equipped with industry-standard technology, such as training aids for hydraulic, brake and electrical systems, to learn skills in diagnosing, troubleshooting, repair and maintenance.

The shop is also complete with heavy-duty diesel trucks, bulldozers and front-end loaders.

“All of our equipment allows for a real-world experience,” said Foster. “And the skills they learn can be applied immediately to tasks they will find in the workforce.”

In addition to technical skills, soft skills such as resume building, interviewing, writing, leadership and communication are also a focus for the program.

“Soft skills are just as important as technical skills,” said Foster. “They have to be effective writers and communicators; all jobs require you to be.”

After completing one of three pathways — certificate one, certificate two or an associate degree — a student can work as a diesel mechanic technician, maintenance technician, construction equipment technician, engine specialist or heavy-duty equipment mechanic.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow five percent through 2028, faster than all other occupations, with a median pay of $22 per hour.

Companies who have hired TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology graduates include Chevron, Freightliner, Halliburton, Holt Equipment, John Deere and Peterbilt.

Diesel Equipment Technology is also offered at TSTC’s Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

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San Angelo Student Driven by TSTC Toyota Program

(WACO, Texas) – Ricardo Echeverria of San Angelo did not go to college right after graduating from the city’s Central High School in 2017.

He went to work at Mitchell Toyota in San Angelo as a lube technician, but said he knew he needed to advance his career.

A dealership employee recommended that Echeverria give Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology – Toyota Technician Training and Education Network, or T-TEN, specialization a look. He began classes at the Waco campus in fall 2018.

“It’s been really good,” Echeverria said. “It’s a lot of hands-on and very informational. The instructors have been good teaching and spending one-on-one time with us.”

Echeverria said his favorite lessons have dealt with engines.

“We get to take the engine apart, and we put it back together and make sure the specs are correct,” he said.

During the summer, Echeverria went back to work at Mitchell Toyota as a main line technician diagnosing and fixing customers’ problems.

“The technicians are very helpful and understood I was a student,” he said. “It opened my eyes to the real world.”

Tony Palmer, Mitchell Toyota’s service manager, said he likes Echeverria’s motivation to better himself. He said students like Echeverria are good for programs like T-TEN.

“If they (students) just had the knowledge that the program is there and if they want to do that type of work in the field, it would be a great option for them,” Palmer said.

After graduating from TSTC, Echeverria said he wants to return to San Angelo to work at the Toyota dealership and later work in San Antonio.

TSTC’s Waco campus is one of four two-year institutions in Texas offering the Toyota curriculum, along with more than 30 two-year colleges nationwide. T-TEN is a consortium of Lexus and Toyota dealerships and two-year colleges developing students with industry-backed training to work in more than 1,500 dealerships nationwide as factory-certified technicians.

“We can take them from almost knowing nothing to being good technicians,” said Roy “Rip” Plumlee, a TSTC Automotive Technology instructor who teaches some of the T-TEN courses.

The program curriculum was revamped this year to have students spend half of their semesters in classes learning about automotive electrical systems, brake systems, climate control systems and other topics, and the remaining weeks working at Toyota dealerships. Plumlee said students who come from throughout Texas to attend TSTC must maintain work at a Toyota dealership to stay in the program.

Plumlee said he has an agreement with his students for them to send him an email when their salaries reach a high level after graduation.

“I hope they go on to long-term, successful careers at Toyota,” he said.

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TSTC Hosts School Counselor Update

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 20 counselors from school districts in Williamson County attended on Friday the Counselor Update hosted by Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus.

The gathering was at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto and included tours of TSTC’s Culinary Arts, Cybersecurity and Precision Machining Technology programs. Attendees also learned about TSTC’s admission requirements, funding formula and recruitment efforts.

Kari Schroeder, a counselor at Taylor High School, said she was glad to learn more about TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee that enables program-enrolled graduates to receive their tuition money back if they do not have a job within six months after graduation. The eligible programs are Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Electrical Power and Controls, Instrumentation Technology and Welding Technology.

“I feel like for me that gave me a glimpse of the actual jobs they are being placed in before or at graduation,” Schroeder said.

Travis Clark, career and technical education coordinator for the Hutto Independent School District, said he was impressed with the Cybersecurity program’s labs.

Clark said some of the challenges in career and technical education include getting students and parents to understand there is financial aid available to pursue an array of college options. He said teachers and counselors need to help students figure out what can work best with the skills they have.

Attendees heard from an early afternoon panel made up of representatives from National Oilwell Varco in Cedar Park, the Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area. Representatives talked about ways they provide support in developing Texas’ workforce.

The event was a way to thank counselors for encouraging students to attend TSTC, said Viña Asayas, a TSTC student recruitment coordinator.

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TSTC welcomes new workforce training project manager

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Joyee Stevenson has returned to her roots in Houston and, in the midst of a career change, she found her calling at Texas State Technical College.

With only a couple of months under her belt at TSTC, the Workforce Training and Continuing Education project manager is already finding that this change was the best decision she could have made.

“I’ve always been an advocate for education,” said Stevenson. “So when I was laid off and I needed to start anew, I decided to combine my past experiences to help others find their dream careers.”

For more than a decade, Stevenson worked as a graphic designer, moving around often to follow job opportunities after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a minor in marketing from the University of South Carolina.

She worked contract and freelance jobs rebranding pharmaceutical companies, and she even had the opportunity to design and advertise for a ramen noodle manufacturer.Joyee Stevenson

“I was infatuated with all aspects of my job,” she said. “The creativity and seeing my ideas and designs come to life kept me going.”

After hitting some bumps in the road as a designer, she returned to South Carolina and worked for a technical college doing graphic design and student recruitment.

“As a single mom, I did what I had to in order to support my daughter,” said Stevenson. “But I never knew that I would enjoy working in higher education so much, that it would spark a career change.”

With her brother in Texas and retired parents who were also ready to move, Stevenson decided to relocate to be closer to family and find better opportunities.

“My mom always told me I would thrive in higher education, but I was stubborn,” she said. “It turns out she was right.”

Stevenson said that soon after she arrived in Houston she noticed the new TSTC campus under construction in Rosenberg and immediately imagined herself working there.

“I’m so glad to be part of the TSTC family,” she said. “I immediately connected with college faculty and staff. It feels like home.”

Stevenson works closely with TSTC industry partners to provide training and opportunities for advancement for their employees.

“We connect with local companies because we feel training is important for everyone and everywhere,” said Stevenson. “What we do affects companies, individuals and families for generations to come.”

Stevenson said she sees a lot of herself in some of the students. Life as a single mom has not been easy. But with a great support system, she has gone far — and she hopes she can offer support to others as well.

“I share my experiences with students; there are no secrets to success,” she said. “I want to share my experiences and knowledge with others so that they can find success too.”

She added that she sees herself growing with TSTC, climbing the ladder but never forgetting what she is advocating for: education.

For more information on the services offered by TSTC Workforce Training and Continuing Education, visit

Waco Transit System Offers Free Rides to TSTC Students

(WACO, Texas) – Current students at Texas State Technical College can now ride on the Waco Transit System’s fixed routes for free.

TSTC students can get a personalized TSTC/Waco Transit identification card at the campus Student Services Center to begin riding.

“TSTC has partnered with Waco Transit for years to provide service to our campus, but this arrangement expands the service for our students to ride any fixed route on Waco Transit at no cost,” said Adam Hutchison, TSTC’s provost for the Waco campus. “Some of our students don’t have access to reliable transportation on their own, and now they can use Waco Transit anywhere in the city — not just TSTC — for free.”

TSTC is included on Waco Transit’s Route 5, which includes stops at H-E-B, Walmart and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Students can ride on any of the transportation system’s 10 routes encompassing all parts of Waco and some locations spread out in McLennan County.

“We do our best to hit all the time points,” said Joseph Dvorsky, Waco Transit’s director of service development. “We have major construction going on with Interstate 35, and what we do is we detour routes to keep them on time.”

Waco Transit uses a flag-stop system for its routes, which means people can flag down buses to be picked up along fixed routes. Dvorsky said bus drivers can pick up riders if they are on the correct side of the street and if there are not traffic-flow issues.

Waco Transit had 1.3 million unlinked passenger trips in 2018, according to Dvorsky. 

To see Waco Transit’s bus routes, go to or download the Ride Systems app on a smartphone.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Groesbeck Students Look to TSTC for Career Goals

(WACO, Texas) – Jake Pringle and Fernando Venegas have known each other for as long as they can remember.

They grew up together attending Groesbeck schools and now are attending Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus where they are in the Welding Technology program. Pringle is working toward a certificate, and Venegas is studying for an associate degree.

“It’s the best welding program in Texas,” Pringle said.

Pringle was inspired to pursue welding because his father has oil field work experience. Venegas said he developed an interest in welding in high school.

The students said stick welding is their favorite. And, they both said they do better with hands-on learning.

Pringle and Venegas are joined by at least 10 other students from Groesbeck attending TSTC this semester. Other programs the students are studying include Biomedical Equipment Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, and Cybersecurity.

All students in the Groesbeck Independent School District get their hands on technology. Students in pre-kindergarten use school district-issued iPads, while students in kindergarten to 12th grade use school district-issued laptops.

“It is a piece of what we do every day,” said Diana Freeman, assistant superintendent of the Groesbeck Independent School District. “We do this because when they go to work, wherever they go to work, they are going to have to be able to do some kind of technology.”

The school district has a strong history in teaching agriculture and welding.

“For us, everybody starts in agriculture, and then you kind of make your choice whether you want to study animals, plants or welding,” said Freeman.

The school district has had 17 high school seniors graduate with an American Welding Society certification, Freeman said. The school district also offers career and technical education classes in business, culinary arts, construction, graphic design and health science.

Groesbeck High School has two counselors, with one dedicated to the career and technical education needs of its more than 400 students.

“TSTC is a place you can go and get that certificate or associate degree — you can get that training to go out and get a job you can do well with,” Freeman said.

After graduating from TSTC, Pringle wants to weld on power lines and will go  wherever there is a good job. Venegas said he wants to do pipeline work after graduation.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC’s Waco Campus Has New FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner

(WACO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus is now home to a Federal Aviation Administration designated mechanic examiner (DME).

Carl Stutsman, a TSTC aviation maintenance instructor, attended an FAA training school in Oklahoma City in late 2018 and was officially notified this summer about his DME status.

“To have a DME on staff means the graduates have the option of going to the DME that is right here so they don’t have to travel farther,” Stutsman said.

Stutsman can only work in the FAA’s North Texas Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)  encompassing a portion of northeast Texas. The state’s other FSDO’s are based in Houston, Lubbock and San Antonio.

He does his FAA work after 5 p.m. on days he is teaching and on weekends. He said teaching aviation maintenance courses is still his top priority at TSTC.

“I love aviation. And for me what keeps me teaching is taking a student who has a haze over their eyes and they struggle to understand, and the light bulb turns on and their eyes are bright and they understand,” Stutsman said. “That is a thrill.”

Stutsmanis obligated to test any aviation maintenance graduate as long as they have permission from their FSDO. People who pass the FAA’s testing receive temporary certification, with the FAA issuing permanent certificates to become aviation mechanics.

“They should expect to receive their permanent certificates in about 120 days,” Stutsman said. “As long as they continually work on aircraft and are signing off on aircraft at least six months out of the past 24, they are good.”

Adam Hutchison, TSTC’s provost for the Waco campus, said the DME certification means the FAA is affirming Stutsman’s judgment and professionalism to help certify the next generation of workers.

“It confirms what TSTC students have known for years, and that is Mr. Stutsman trains men and women to perform the highest-quality service to keep aircraft operating safely,” Hutchison said.

Robert Capps, TSTC’s statewide chair of the aviation maintenance department, said having Stutsman’s role on campus means another marketability option for attracting students.

“It lowers the barriers for our students to get this certification done,” he said.

Stutsman had previous experience as a designated mechanic examiner in Colorado, where he administered more than 200 oral and practical exams.

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TSTC enrollment coach finds new home at TSTC

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Tracey Clayton comes to Texas State Technical College from Tennessee, where she was first introduced to careers in higher education.

Now, with several years of experience under her belt as an educational advisor and as an enrollment coach for the college, she is helping students at TSTC find their potential and become college graduates.

“It’s so exciting to see students get ready to enter college,” she said. “My passion is to help students start their education so they can find opportunities that help them lead better lives.”

Higher education wasn’t always what Clayton had in mind as a profession.

For 15 years, the single mom practiced as a licensed massage therapist for spas, mobile clinics, chiropractic clinics and private clients.

But when the joints in her hands started giving her problems, she knew it was time for a career change.TSTC Enrollment Coach Tracey Clayton

“This profession fell into my lap by accident, but it helped me support my son,” she reminisced. “I was always giving family members and friends massages and they all told me the same thing, ‘This is your career,’  so when I couldn’t massage anymore, I decided to teach.”

She taught massage therapy for three years at a technical college in Tennessee, also serving as a new student and graduate advisor.

“This was my first go-around in the education sector and I loved it,” she said.

Then Clayton decided she was ready for a change.  So with friends and family in the area and in Dallas, she chose Houston, Texas as her new home.

“Before making the move official, I applied everywhere. I wanted to work in higher education,” she said. “And then TSTC called. The moment I walked on campus and met the people around me, I knew this was where I was meant to be.”

Ten months later and Clayton said everyone at TSTC has become a second family and her favorite part: seeing the students she assists with enrollment being successful and getting closer to graduating.

“I love what I do and where I do it,” said Clayton. “TSTC has been a great place to work and my job feels rewarding. I can see myself growing here and staying for the long run.”

Clayton’s said her goals are to continue helping students pick the careers that are right for them and keeping her positive attitude because it can make a world of difference for those she serves.

And to help in her career development, she is also pursuing an online associate degree with TSTC in Business Management Technology.

“Nothing I have done or achieved has been easy, especially as a single mom,” said Clayton. “I can empathize with many of our students and I hope my story will inspire others to not give up on their dreams. Because TSTC helps create careers for anyone willing to work hard.”

Registration for Spring 2020 begins November 11. For more information, visit

Austin Company Finds Quality Employees at TSTC

(HUTTO, Texas) – Tucked among a cluster of brick buildings on Research Boulevard in Austin is a technology company that has found a source for employees in Central Texas.

Contigo Technology has looked to Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus to fill Cybersecurity jobs. And, the company wants to hire more employees.

“Contigo is a great opportunity for our students,” said Joshua Schier, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybsersecurity program. “They are a fantastic employer offering great pay and benefits for entry-level positions. And, they are putting students in a position to succeed and grow with the company.”

Some of the skills students in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program learn include intrusion detection, Linux installation, and server virtualization and intrusion. The program’s goal is to give students a foundation of knowledge in networking and networking security.

“Many of the students have done projects and assignments together as a team while in school,” Schier said. “They developed friendships and team-building skills while here at TSTC, and that is being carried over into their work environment at Contigo.”

The company has 22 employees who work with clients using Microsoft platforms. Fuller said a majority of the company’s work is preventive maintenance, while project work is also undertaken.

“Everyone has a role to play,” said Bryan Fuller, president of Contigo Technology. “Everyone is being taken care of as long as the customer is taken care of.”

Travis Hoffmeister played baseball and graduated from Texas Tech University before finding his way to TSTC’s Cybersecurity program. He said attending TSTC gave him more focus for his career. He said a hiring company recommended that he give Contigo Technology a look when he was job searching.

He is a project engineer who migrates data and email between hosts at the company.

“I’m happy with it,” Hoffmeister said about his job. “I didn’t know what to do outside of Texas Tech. At TSTC, it was a broad curriculum. It helped me see a wide swath of fields to get into.”

Kyle Banks and Isabelle Pomeroy are remote operator technicians at the company. The two had classes together at TSTC and graduated a semester apart from the Cybersecurity program.

“We are the main contacts when it comes to issues with the clients and with their devices or technical questions,” Banks said. “We troubleshoot and get them fixed.”

Pomeroy said she enjoys her job because she discovers and figures out problems for customers.

Javier Bustos is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybsersecurity at TSTC in December. He has worked part time since May, troubleshooting and setting up customers’ computers.

“TSTC has hooked me up with a job, which is awesome,” said Bustos, who grew up in Manor.

Bustos said he does not have a problem asking for help from his co-workers when needed.

“I really enjoy it,” he said. “At first it was intimidating. It was my first exposure to a business environment with information technology.”

Fuller said the quality of life for his employees is important. Company employees work in staggered shifts to manage Austin’s traffic. There are also opportunities for employees to work from their homes.

“I don’t want turnover,” Fuller said. “I try to make it a fun environment. I require them to be good at what they do.”

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TSTC student, employee thrives despite challenges

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – With a second chance at life, Carranza Bankston has joined the Texas State Technical College family as an employee and a Cybersecurity student.

It’s only been a few months since the 34-year-old, single mother had a stroke that left her bedridden for two months induced by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

“I’ve always been the traveler, the daughter that moves away to find adventure, so when I had my stroke I was far from my family,” said Bankston. “I knew it was time to move home and that’s when TSTC came into play.”

While on bed rest, the Richmond native began her job search, and working in the food industry for much of her life, she knew the TSTC Café cook position was the right fit.

“I had already applied to TSTC for several other positions, but this one was the one that was meant to be,” she said. “And I was able to move back home.”TSTC Cook, Cybersecurity student Carranza Bankston

Bankston’s food industry experience ranges from restaurant management to catering business owner. She even began culinary school, but put it on hold at age 22 when she became pregnant with her daughter.  

Her catering business “Jacasians” is Jamaican food with an American twist, and has seen success in the wedding and large-event arena.

“I’ve been working since I was 15 so I’m no stranger to hard work,” said Bankston. “And even though cooking has always been my passion, I also worked in technical support for a couple of major companies, and that’s why I decided to return to school for cybersecurity.”

With support from her mother and daughter to return to school, Bankston enrolled in Cybersecurity’s online program and expects to earn her associate degree in Spring 2021.

She said she is blessed to have a job she loves and a program that is flexible, allowing her to balance work and life.

“TSTC has exceeded my expectations as an employee and student,” she said. “I love the help, the friendliness and family-like atmosphere. I feel right at home.”

She added that her favorite part of being TSTC’s Café cook is serving people and making them smile, because with everything she has had to overcome she knows the importance of not taking life for granted.

“Everything I do, I do with my daughter in mind. I want her to see that no matter the trials and tribulations, you can still accomplish your dreams,” she said. “And that’s what I’m doing here at TSTC, moving forward with my goals so I can make my dreams come true.”

Bankston plans on continuing to travel around the United States, adding Mexico to the list soon, maybe even Italy in the future.

And while her ultimate goal is to own a successful restaurant, she said she is going to work hard in first, completing Cybersecurity and second, getting a government or state job that will allow her to use the skills she learns.

“With this degree I have the opportunity to start a new career in numerous areas. It really opens doors,” she said. “And although there are and will be obstacles to overcome, I can’t wait to put all – restaurant and cybersecurity – skills together to become a leader in my industries.”

Cybersecurity is offered online or at TSTC’s Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Waco and East Williamson County campuses. And, beginning Fall 2020, Cybersecurity Technology will be one of the Performance-Based Education programs offered at TSTC. PBE allows students the flexibility to move through the program at their own pace. 

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