Category Archives: Waco

TSTC Student Finds Passion in Building Construction Technology

(WACO) – Mariano Perez of Waco learned early on about the meaning of work.

Perez, 19, began working at 13 with his father in the family’s residential concrete business. He spent many holiday breaks, weekends and sizzling days helping to pour concrete driveways, patios and sidewalks in McLennan County.

“It all started off with respecting the guys pushing the shovel all day long,” Perez said. “I learned the value of a dollar. I learned the general skills. I learned how to measure with the tape, how to hit a nail, how to use a sledgehammer.”

The knowledge Perez gained launched him into the Building Construction Technology program at Texas State Technical College. He is a candidate for graduation with an associate degree at TSTC’s Fall 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Waco Convention Center.

“Mariano is a very hard worker and dedicated to everything he puts his hands on,” said Herschel Miller, a TSTC Building Construction Technology instructor.

Perez will start work on Monday, Dec. 10, at Big Creek Construction Ltd. in Lorena, where he will be trained on project scheduling.

Wade Miller, Big Creek’s assistant director, said Perez is the first graduate to be hired directly out of TSTC. The company currently employs several TSTC alumni.

“We are excited to have Mariano coming aboard,” Miller said. “He’s a very impressive young man, and we expect him to do well at our company.”

The company is a heavy-highway contractor working on Texas Department of Transportation road and bridge projects and occasional projects for the city of Waco.

Miller said TxDOT’s increase in spending on projects due to state propositions being passed by voters means more road and bridge improvements will be made in the next decade.

“This equates to roughly 70,000 employees needed to build this work,” Miller said. “The workforce across our industry and state is aging. We are running out of people to do this work. For this reason, programs by TSTC make sense to contractors like us.”

Perez’s goal is one day to own his own concrete business.

Perez graduated in 2017 from West High School where he took dual enrollment classes in general academics and automotive technology. He decided to pursue construction during his senior year.

“Honestly, I never gave up until I found my passion,” Perez said. “It is difficult to be successful if you don’t know what to do.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


Thrall Resident Overcomes Challenges En Route to TSTC Associate Degree

(HUTTO) – Jonathan Flores of Thrall was working in construction in 2014 when he was involved in an automobile accident in Williamson County.

Flores was thrown out of the vehicle he was in and found out soon afterward that he was paralyzed from the chest down. At the time, he said he did not think much about college. But while recovering and adjusting to his life’s changes, he said he knew he needed to further his education.

“If you want to do something, no matter what you want to do, you can do it,” Flores said.

Flores, 24, is a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County’s Fall 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center at 1600 Innovation Blvd. in Hutto.

“I got interested in welding because I like to build stuff,” Flores said. “After my accident, I couldn’t do much work.”

With some minor adapting, Flores is able to weld in EWCHEC’s first-floor labs. He enjoys fabricating the most.

“It was hard at first,” Flores said. “The instructors would tell you (to do it) a certain way, and sometimes I could not do it and I had to figure out a different way.”

Samara Flener, lead instructor of TSTC’s Welding Technology program, said she and faculty members admire Flores’ work ethic, attitude and determination.

“My priority became making sure he had access when he was in the booth and that he was as comfortable as all of the other students,” Flener said. “We will take 20 more of him.”

When he is not studying or working, Flores likes to play wheelchair basketball in Austin. He said it is good exercise and a way to connect with others.

Flores graduated in 2012 from Taylor High School, where he played soccer and took graphic design and engineering classes.

“I would see people weld and it looked cool,” he said.

His goal after graduation is to pursue a job in a fabrication shop in the Austin area.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Computer Programming Technology Encourages Women to Code

(WACO) – Vicky Lackey, 60, of Teague first learned about programming languages, or coding, in the late 1970s on desktop computers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I fell in love with computers,” she said. “I started playing around with them myself.”

Lackey’s inspirations for continuing her education last year at Texas State Technical College were the excitement of technology’s evolution and her children. When she enrolled to pursue the Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Programming Technology, she learned a new set of programming languages like C# (C Sharp) and Java.

“The logic is kind of the same,” Lackey said. “You just have to use the script and terminology with each language and then learn the code.”

Lackey’s goal after graduation is to work in computer programming and then be self-employed.

There are more than 77,100 women who are computer programmers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of men in the field is more than 370,000.

Texas had more than 20,800 computer programmers as of May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had an annual mean wage of $86,200, which is higher than its border states, according to the labor statistics agency.

“The industry looks for competent programmers,” said Casey Jones, a TSTC Computer Science instructor. “That comes down to those students who come in and work and grow with the complexity of coding.”

TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology pathway gets a variety of students who are interested in video games and those who are new to learning about coding and technology.

Some of TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology majors choose also to study Cloud and Data Center Management to broaden their job potential.

Jones pointed to the construction field as needing competent coders in the future, especially as 3D printing is adapted for projects.

“When you look at getting the jobs, it is how good a programmer you are,” Jones said.

TSTC’s instructors try to make the process of learning coding and solving problems as interactive as possible.

“You write a lot of dead code starting out,” Jones said. “You learn to modify and fix.”

Twenty-six percent of professional computing jobs in the United States were held by women in 2017, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Kaitlyn Lyons, 25, of Hillsboro had computer experience before attending TSTC, but learning the coding language was new to her. She said she gets tutoring when needed to better understand programming concepts.

After graduation next year, she wants to work for a company and return to college for a business degree.

“I think it’s encouraging to have more diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields,” Lyons said. “A lot of them are male-oriented.”

Lyons’ advice to primary and secondary school girls is to pay attention to the classes they take.

“Do some more mathematics and logic-based classes,” she said. “The syntax is pretty easy, but the logic can be a little challenging. Pick up a coding book, and read it and research.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC is hiring, hosts first Faculty Recruitment Fair

(FORT BEND) – Texas State Technical College is looking for faculty to join the family and, to that end, will be hosting a Faculty Recruitment Fair on Thursday, December 13.

The event, hosted at TSTC’s Brazos Center from 2 to 6:30 p.m., will offer those interested in bringing their talents to the classroom the opportunity to apply and complete an on-site interview with faculty and staff.

“We need additional faculty to support the growth the Fort Bend County campus is seeing. We’re growing rapidly,” said Toni Lerch, TSTC Human Resources manager. “We’re looking for people who are passionate about their professional field and are ready to share their technical knowledge, skills and abilities with the workforce of tomorrow.”TSTC Instructor

There are faculty openings in the high demand programs of Welding Technology, Precision Machining Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, HVAC Technology, Cyber Security Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

Lerch said ideal candidates should have at least three to five years experience in their industry expertise and an associate degree or higher.

Some teaching or training experience is preferred, but not required.

“We want people who can take what they have learned in the technical/industrial field and share it in the classroom,” said Lerch. “Teaching a trade can be such a rewarding career and they will be joining a wonderful family.”

TSTC offers competitive salaries; a state employee benefits package that includes health, dental and vision; and paid sick and vacation leave.

Lerch said she encourages everyone interested in applying to attend the recruiting event.

“This is not your typical event,” said Lerch. “We’ll be offering a glimpse inside one of the area’s newest campuses and showcasing our classrooms and labs. Not many people get to tour a place they’re applying to during a recruitment fair, so this is a great opportunity.”

TSTC Associate Provost Bryan Bowling said instructors play a critical and rewarding role in changing lives.

“There is a huge technical skills gap in Texas today and with the incredible growth we’re seeing in the state and at TSTC in Fort Bend County we need additional instructors so we can continue to meet the increasing demand for technically skilled graduates,” said Bowling. “Our instructors are the heart of our organization and we rely heavily on the breadth of their knowledge.”

TSTC prides itself on being a “great place to work” offering great benefits, employee development opportunities and state-of-the-art teaching facilities.

With more than 200 positions available statewide, applications are being accepted. Positions are scheduled to be filled by January. For more information or to apply, visit

San Antonio Resident Electrifies His Goals at TSTC

(WACO) – After Esteban Hernandez graduated in 2012 from Louis D. Brandeis High School in San Antonio, his parents lobbied for him to attend Texas State Technical College because of family ties to Waco.

Instead Hernandez worked at a restaurant, a land-surveying business and a warehouse. He also dabbled in studying radiography.

“Wow, I wasted so many years,” he said.

Six years after his high school graduation, Hernandez is realizing his dream of being a college graduate with a transformed life.

He is a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Avionics Technology at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Waco Convention Center.

“Esteban is an amazing student,” said Marty Segraves, chair of the Avionics Department. “He is such an adept student that he has nearly maxed the program. His only B was in an electronics course. When he takes a test, I’m almost disappointed  if he doesn’t make a 100.”

Hernandez began working part time earlier this year at JAG Aviation in McGregor. He gets to work with employees on older and newer plane radio systems. He said the work is a way to use what he learns at TSTC.

Hernandez enrolled at TSTC in 2017 and moved in with his grandparents. His inspiration for studying aviation was his cousin’s husband who is employed at Southwest Airlines and his own fondness for hands-on work.

“I like the group we have in the program,” he said. “They are really fun and awesome. Learning how electronics work is really interesting.”

Hernandez will not wait long to pursue his next goal. In January, he will start taking classes in the Aviation Maintenance program at TSTC.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC helps students fight hunger

(FORT BEND) – Hunger and homelessness is widespread among college students and to help battle this issue Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County has set up a student food pantry.

TSTC Campus Enrollment Executive Georgeann Calzada said the mission of the pantry is to provide struggling students with meals.

“The goal with all of our support resources is to fill a gap for our students until we have a permanent solution and/or they are able to get back on their feet with the support of one of the many community organizations we work with,” said Calzada. “Food insecurities are great concern across college and university campuses.”

On average, the food pantry at TSTC will assist at least five students a week.

The pantry is filled with canned goods, cereals, soups, oatmeal, and toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“We realize our students enter college with outside factors that might impact their learning environment,” said Calzada. “Many of our students work paycheck-to-paycheck and try to make it with only five dollars in their pocket, so we want to help get them through this period in their life to get them on their way to a career.”  TSTC Student Food Pantry

Many of the items the pantry is stocked with are donations that come from TSTC staff and faculty and community businesses and neighbors.

The last large donation for the pantry came from Kroger’s, which donated $200 worth of food.

The pantry is primarily used for students, but when Hurricane Harvey hit, the outpouring of donations from TSTC campuses across the state and from the community allowed the pantry to be open  to faculty and staff in need as well during that period.

According to the recent study “Still Hungry and Homeless in College,” by researchers at Temple University and Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 42 percent of community college students describe themselves as food insecure, with one third saying they have skipped meals or eaten smaller portions to cut costs.

TSTC Student Government Association president Rene Escobar works at the pantry part-time assisting with restocking and organizing and said he has seen firsthand how the pantry helps alleviate student stress.

“Having a food pantry on campus helps make students feel at home,” said Escobar. “Students know they are welcome to come by anytime and get what they need. In turn, this allows them to focus more on school.”

Escobar, who is also a Diesel Equipment Technology student at TSTC, said he encourages students to use the pantry.

“Students should not be embarrassed about using the pantry. Sometimes there’s a negative stigma that surrounds asking for help,” said he said. “But this pantry is here for them. To help them in their journey to success. They should take full advantage of the service, it’s okay to ask for help.”

Calzada said she wants students to be aware that TSTC is there to assist them through every challenge and obstacle they face during their time at the college.

“Our pantry has made the progress needed with the continued growth of our campus and we will continue to provide the needed services for our students,” said Calzada. “Since we’re a commuter campus, fuel is also a big issue for our students, so with the support of our provost we’ve set funds aside for gas cards.  As long as the student continues to do his/her part to attend and pass classes then we’ll do everything in our power to alleviate struggles.”

For more information on the student food pantry or to donate, call 346-239-3422.

TSTC Auto Collision and Management Technology Program Receives National Grant

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program will soon buy new equipment because of a recently awarded national grant.

The program has received a $1,000 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover Grant from the Collision Repair Education Foundation. The announcement was made in late October at the 2018 Speciality Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The money will be available in January.

High school and college auto collision programs undergo a rigorous application process to be considered for the grants.

Clint Campbell, TSTC’s statewide Auto Collision and Management Technology chair, said it took two months to complete the application, which includes information on the program’s budget and student job placement, as well as recommendations from industry representatives.

“It’s a good deal for the program,” Campbell said. “It makes sure you are doing things correctly and for the right reasons.”

Campbell said it is not only critical to the auto collision industry to teach students how to repair dents and paint, but also to use technology to reset collision avoidance systems being built for new vehicle models. Securing grants to purchase new equipment enables the program faculty to use money in areas where it is most needed.

John McIntyre, 33, and Blake McIntyre, 28, both of San Angelo, are working toward Auto Collision Refinishing certificates and are scheduled to graduate next summer.

The brothers chose to attend TSTC to learn techniques to use for a restoration shop they want to open in their hometown after graduation. They want to purchase older models of trucks, rehabilitate them and sell them at automotive auctions.

“Automotives are a passion,” John McIntyre said.

Blake McIntyre said he had an extra motivation for pursuing the certificate: He has been dissatisfied with past automotive paint jobs. He said his favorite class so far has been Automotive Plastic and Sheet Molded Compound Repair.

TSTC in Waco has about 90 students pursuing the program’s associate degrees and certificates.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Technical Program Receives Recognition

(WACO) – An information clearinghouse for higher education rankings has put Texas State Technical College at the top of the power pole in Texas. has named TSTC as having this year’s best Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

“We want to maintain our current ranking in Texas, but we have aspirations to be No. 1 in the nation,” said Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide Distribution and Industrial Electrical Systems department chair. “TSTC never wants to be complacent as a technical college, as technology is changing every second.”

The TSTC program has 80 certificate and associate degree students this fall. The program accepts 35 new students each semester.

Some of the classes students take include Climbing Skills, Distribution Operations, Live Line Safety and OSHA Regulations – Construction Industry. The program mixes classroom lectures and hands-on learning at its on-campus pole lab. Program faculty teach the students about professionalism, teamwork and safety.

“If they are not good at the skills, they do not make it through this program,” said Cheryl Lloyd, a TSTC program maintenance specialist.

Eric Cobb, 32, of Copperas Cove is studying for the program’s associate degree and is scheduled to graduate in 2019.

Cobb learned about the career field by watching YouTube videos. Some of his favorite things about the work are troubleshooting and maintaining high-voltage electricity.

“I liked it because it is fun, dangerous and exciting,” he said. “There is more brain work that goes into it than people think.”

After graduation, Cobb wants to work in the Austin or Copperas Cove areas.

Theodore Lozano, 31, of Waco is scheduled to graduate with a program associate degree next year. He was attracted to the electrical field because of the physicality and not having to spend hours behind a desk.

“I definitely made the right decision career-wise,” Lozano said.

Lozano’s job plans are to relocate where he can make the best salary for his family.

Lloyd said students garner at least one job offer upon graduation. Some of the companies that have hired students include Austin Energy, Oncor and Pike Electric Corp.

“We are very lucky to have support from major power companies, cooperatives, municipalities and contractors that support us on our statewide advisory board committee that provides feedback on current curriculum needs and upcoming changing policies in the industry,” Carithers said.

TSTC also offers the Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Fort Bend County and Marshall.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC hosts second annual Counselor Update

(FORT BEND) – Counselors from across Fort Bend County and the Houston area recently gathered at Texas State Technical College for the Fort Bend County campus’ second annual Counselor Update.

Counselor Updates are hosted by TSTC across the state to keep counselors informed about admission, financial aid and changes in programs, and to give them the opportunity to hear from students and alumni and meet TSTC faculty and staff.

During the recent event, more than 70 counselors got an in-depth look into the 10 programs offered at TSTC in Fort Bend County, took a tour of the campus and heard firsthand about the impact TSTC has on students and alumni. The campus’ provost, Randy Wooten, also shared a few words with the counselors.

Millie Perez, a Houston Independent School District transition coach, voiced appreciation for the event and the opportunity to visit the campus.

TSTC in  Fort Bend Counselor Update

“This was my first Counselor Update and first time at TSTC. I’m very impressed,” said Perez. “I’ve really enjoyed my experience.”

Perez said she loves technical education and being able to have a part in helping fill the skills gap by learning about colleges like TSTC and the opportunities that are available for her students.

“I got an inside look at TSTC and got to explore the programs they offer,” she said. “I look forward to passing everything I learned on to my students so that they know this is a great postsecondary education option right in their backyard.”

TSTC student recruiter Yulonda Durst said the event was a success and that comments from counselors such as Perez made the achievement evident.

“Based on surveys, the counselors were very pleased with the programs they toured and stated they would definitely recommend TSTC to their students,” said Durst. “This event helped counselors realize that TSTC is not just another two-year technical college, but the start that their students need to get on the right career path.”

Durst said events like this help TSTC build relationships with counselors, career technology education teachers and school district administrators.

“Counselor Updates and other events like it help us build a pipeline from high school to TSTC that we as recruiters try to achieve during all of our recruiting events,” said Durst. “And one of our main goals is to provide information that counselors can use to help students who they deem are good candidates for TSTC so they understand the benefits we provide.”

Registration for Spring 2019 is underway. TSTC will host a Registration Rally, a one-stop registration event, at the TSTC Brazos Center on the Fort Bend County campus on Friday, December 7.

For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit

TSTC Hosts Underclassman Day

(WACO) – Several middle school students received their first look at college life on Wednesday during Underclassman Day at Texas State Technical College.

More than 200 students from the Cleburne, Lockhart and McGregor school districts learned about technical programs, including Architectural and Civil Drafting Technology, Building Construction Technology and Industrial Maintenance.

“We had a good turnout,” said Melinda Calvillo, a TSTC student recruitment representative. “I think the early exposure for the students is really good.”

Kristina Cron, a mathematics teacher at Wheat Middle School in Cleburne, traveled with her school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), students.

“My hope is for them to find an interest or careers they never knew about,” she said.

Jolee McGuire, 14, and Erin Ramirez, 14, are eighth-grade students in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) in Lockhart. The students liked what they saw in the Biomedical Equipment Technology program.

“It was cool to see inside all of the equipment,” said McGuire.

Ramirez said she enjoyed seeing how TSTC’s Biomedical Equipment Technology students fixed medical equipment.

The two students were impressed with their visit to the campus store. McGuire also appreciated seeing the small classes.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to