Category Archives: Waco

New TSTC Scholarship Available for Hutto High School Graduates

(HUTTO) – Members of Hutto High School’s Class of 2019 will be the first to benefit from a new scholarship to attend Texas State Technical College that was created by the city of Hutto, the Hutto Education Foundation and The TSTC Foundation.

The three entities are contributing money to help Hutto graduates pay for pursuing certificates or associate degrees at TSTC.

The city is contributing $25,000, while the Hutto Education Foundation is still determining what it will provide financially. The TSTC Foundation will match both contributions.

“The ultimate goal is to keep building this,” said Michael Smith, associate field development officer for The TSTC Foundation. “We are trying to get a consortium of industry here that will theoretically fund any Hutto student that wants to go to TSTC.”

Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul said the idea of Hutto students graduating from high school, pursuing a technical degree and staying in the city is appealing.

“We are doing the first two semesters, and the Hutto Education Foundation is doing the other two semesters,” Gaul said.

Lizzy Samples, director of the Hutto Education Foundation, said their scholarship contribution will be for Hutto graduates who take at least 24 semester credit hours at TSTC.

“It is our mission that the students receiving this funding also have the drive to want to complete their education,” Samples said.

The three entities are expected to consider in upcoming years how much to contribute for future Hutto graduates to use.

“We feel like this is a really interesting and neat initiative that we hope the high school students get on board with,” Samples said.

Hutto High School students planning to attend TSTC this fall can talk to a TSTC recruitment representative for more information. Current TSTC students who graduated from Hutto High School can contact a TSTC admissions representative for more information.

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Midway, Live Oak Students Win Top Prizes at Science and Engineering Fair at TSTC

(WACO) – A student from Midway High School and a team from a Waco private school were the top winners in the 63rd annual Central Texas Science and Engineering Fair held Tuesday and Wednesday at Texas State Technical College.

Midway High School junior Sophie Kearney, 17, along with Live Oak Classical School sophomores Caleb Chakmakjian, 16, and Wyatt Tyson, 16, are eligible to represent Central Texas in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May in Phoenix. Remi Labeille, 16, a junior at Midway High School, was named an alternate.

Kearney participated in the regional science fair in seventh, eighth and ninth grades but skipped doing a sophomore project. This year, her project focused on making better prescriptions so antibiotics are more effective. The project combined her love of science and newly discovered interest in computer programming.

“I cried when I got back to my seat,” Kearney said. “I have looked up to Edward Kim (a former science fair winner and Midway High School graduate) and Remi (Labeille). Making first place is a crazy achievement to me.”

Krystle Moos, a chemistry teacher at Midway High School, advised Labeille and Kearney on their projects.

“They put a lot of hard work in their projects,” Moos said. “They are self-driven kids. They are figuring out problems we don’t even know we have and finding solutions for them.”

Chakmakjian was named a top winner for the second year in a row at the regional science fair. He and Labeille, the event’s other top winner in 2018, represented Central Texas at last year’s International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh.

And, Labeille had a small part in Chakmakjian and Tyson’s project.

“We went through three project ideas,” Chakmakjian said. “Remi gave us the idea to study a hybrid rocket engine. It’s an honor to be part of the science community. I’m really glad Wyatt gets to experience this.”

Tyson said he looked forward to more work with Chakmakjian.

“I thought it was a good project,” Tyson said. “There is room for improvement. The other projects here were really good.”

There were more than 100 projects from area public, private and home schools. Some of the topics the middle and high school students studied include alternative energy, acoustics, caterpillars, essential oils, fidget spinners and robotics.

The first-, second- and third-place winners in each junior and senior division are eligible for the Texas Science and Engineering Fair in March in College Station.

A team from Tennyson Middle School won the Junior Science Bowl held Tuesday at TSTC’s IDEAS Center.

For more information on the Central Texas Science and Engineering Fair, go to

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TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology Grads in Demand

(WACO) – As a child, Beau Babineau of Creedmoor enjoyed flipping cars. In high school, he worked as a mechanic and knew he wanted to work with diesel equipment after his dad bought a diesel truck.

“I’ve learned more in two semesters than I had in most of high school,” said Babineau, 18, a Diesel Equipment Technology student at Texas State Technical College.

Job prospects are booming for students studying to become diesel technicians.

“Industry pretty much comes here,” said David Folz, lead instructor for the Diesel Equipment Technology program at TSTC. “They are constantly calling us.”

The program has developed several partnerships with industry leaders such as RDO Equipment Co. and Freightliner. Many of these companies send representatives to TSTC to talk to students about the field.

“We had a job fair and got to talk to a lot of really good people,” said Robert Landry, 21, of Cypress. “We’ve got our foot in the door all over the place.”

Landry is excited for the opportunities in the technician field.

“The industry is growing big time,” Landry said. “So there is definitely job security.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas employs the most bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in the country with more than 27,400 workers.

Durham School Services provides transportation for schools across the United States. The company is frequently looking for qualified technicians to hire.

“It is very difficult to find good mechanics,” said Enrique Rangel, lead technician for Durham School Services in Waco. “Experience is something I look for.”

Rangel says experience makes candidates stand out more during the hiring process.

“We’ll base it [hiring] on experience,” Rangel said. “What have they done and where can we develop them to become better mechanics?”

Diesel Equipment Technology students at TSTC get a combination of classroom and hands-on learning.

“They prepare us pretty dang good and they’ve got a lot of engines for us to work on,” said Babineau. “The instructors really seem to care about the stuff we’re learning. We have a lot of hands-on work and it’s pretty fast-paced.”

Babineau is excited for the future and for the rest of his time at TSTC.

“Coming out of a school and having two associate degrees, I think I’ll be moving up quickly through the field,” Babineau said. “A lot of people don’t get that opportunity.”

TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program offers students certificates and associate degrees with specialties. In addition to Waco, the program is offered on the Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas and Sweetwater campuses.

For more information about Texas State Technical College, visit

TSTC Alumni Visit BCT Students

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology students recently learned about their career field from five graduates now working at Galaxy Builders Ltd. in San Antonio.

Ramiro Contreras, Joel Doss, Ryan Hutton, Zach McLeskey and Courtney Seelhorst work at the company and told students how their TSTC studies helped them succeed in their careers. The alumni also offered employment advice.

“There were things I learned in the classroom that I didn’t understand at first,” said Seelhorst, an assistant project manager at the company. “But then the links between the classroom and the field come together and it all makes sense.”

Each alumnus spoke individually and then answered questions at the end of their presentations. Students were encouraged to stay later and speak with them.

“Galaxy is a great company and this is a great school,” said Hutton,a junior assistant superintendent at the company. “It’s changed my life.”

Galaxy Builders often sends representatives to TSTC to attend job fairs and speak with students.

“It gives them real life experience,” said John Russell, an instructor in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. “Here’s what these guys have done with their lives. It shows students if they put forth the effort, they can be successful too. This company is big on our students and has high regards for them.”

TSTC Building Construction Technology major Luis Diaz, 20, of Georgetown was impressed with what he heard from the group.

“They can relate to us,” he said. “They told us how important it is to show up on time and pay attention in class. I really liked their culture. They take care of their employees.”

For more information about Texas State Technical College, visit

TSTC Receives Scholarship and Equipment Check from San Antonio Organization

(WACO) – More than 20 Automotive Technology majors at Texas State Technical College will receive a financial boost this semester from a San Antonio-based automotive organization.

The non-profit Community of Automotive Professionals, which runs CarFest in San Antonio, recently awarded a $30,000 check for scholarships and equipment for the participation of Waco’s Automotive Technology students in the 2018 event.

TSTC in Waco students who took part in CarFest and participated in SkillsUSA last year were eligible for the $500 scholarships. TSTC in Waco and Harlingen Automotive Technology majors who have at least a 3.25 grade point average were also eligible, said Chris Perales, an instructor in TSTC in Waco’s Automotive Technology program.

“This is to help them buy what they need to continue their education,” Perales said.

Gabriella Villarreal, 20, of Brownwood attended last year’s CarFest and said the experience was beneficial because she learned about door and tire mechanisms.

She said the scholarship will be put to good use.

“It’s helping me with my living accommodation,” Villarreal said. “I have to pay rent. It’s helping me to continue in school.”

Patrick Bruce, 25, of Waco is benefitting from a scholarship because of his grade-point average. He said the money will help pay for classes as he and his fiancé prepare to buy a house.

Other TSTC in Waco Automotive Technology majors that received scholarships are David Davis, Ramiro Hernandez, Jaeshon Jackson, Patrick Kaltenbach, Kevin Le, Krystal Marshall, Jens Moen, Joel Ramirez, Samuel Shimek, Shelby Terry, Ricardo Villegas and Andrew Whatley.

TSTC in Harlingen students who received scholarships are Christopher Aguilar, Luis Barrientos, Christopher Machado, Jose Munoz, Noel Soto and Joshua Vasquez.

TSTC in Waco’s Automotive Technology students will participate in this year’s CarFest 2019 from April 5-7 at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

For more information on CarFest, go to

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TSTC and GWAMA Partnership Help Promote Career and Technical Education

(WACO) – Hipolito Galan is already putting a spark in his future career.

Galan, 18, is a senior who spends mornings at Waco High School and afternoons at the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, or GWAMA. His days are a combination of textbooks and hands-on learning with welding equipment.

“It’s something different every day,” said Galan, who plans to enroll this fall in the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College.

Students in GWAMA’s welding program can earn dual enrollment credits good for use at TSTC.

Galan said he has come to enjoy fabrication work while attending the academy.

“I like to build things that can be used,” he said.

Besides welding, GWAMA also offers courses in robotics and electronics, along with construction.

“It gives them an advantage to the beginning of a career,” said Brandon McMahan, an instructor in TSTC’s Robotics Technology program. “They have the hunger to learn.”

The high school students use professional-level equipment in their classes, such as 3D printers to create parts for small rockets.

“They are using the same type of robots we have here and in industry,” McMahan said. “We want to maintain a strong relationship with that school. Their students are doing what we want to teach them.”

The academy has about 200 juniors and seniors from more than 10 area high schools, the farthest being in Mexia.

“I get to see people who have the same interests that I do,” Galan said.

GWAMA’s classes enable small, rural school districts who cannot afford to have an array of technical education classes to be able to give students high-quality experiences that can spark curiosity.

“This whole concept was designed for surrounding districts to share the costs of having a program of this magnitude,” said Donna McKethan, director of career and technical education for the Waco Independent School District.

McKethan said the academy’s precision metal manufacturing program will be tweaked this fall to include an emphasis on computer-aided design. And, the architecture program currently at Waco High School will be moved this fall to GWAMA for all interested students to participate in.

GWAMA’s plans do not stop beyond the fall.

McKethan said a new academy focusing on cyber security and networking will have a dual enrollment component with TSTC and another two-year college starting in 2020. McKethan said the number of students is expected to be capped at 40 juniors and seniors a year.

“A lot of what you see is years of working with TSTC and some hard lessons on what can work with the students,” McKethan said.

For more information on the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy, go to

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TSTC Student Builds Leadership Skills as Campus Ambassador

(RED OAK) – Orlando Chavez, 19, of Red Oak did not look far to make his college decision.

Chavez is a Precision Machining Technology major at Texas State Technical College, which is next door to Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

“I have enjoyed getting to learn how to use the milling machines and lathe,” Chavez said. “It was a major learning curve, but it was the best thing I learned so far.”

Theo Comer, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said Chavez has been a joy to teach.

“He shows an energy to learn and the effort to do it correctly,” Comer said.

Chavez also serves as a TSTC student ambassador. Applicants for that position are interviewed by campus student recruitment staff and chosen for their academic work, along with their communication and leadership skills. He works at campus events, such as the recent Spring Counselors Update, gives tours to campus visitors and assists potential students with their TSTC applications.

“He’s not only gaining the technical skills needed to be a successful machinist, but he is also gaining valuable soft skills to enhance his employability,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC provost.

After graduation in December, Chavez wants to work in an area maintenance shop and possibly pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

He said the first time he walked into TSTC in North Texas’ Industrial Technology Center was during a spring open house event.

“I would have to say TSTC was very convenient for me,” Chavez said. “I didn’t want to go to a university because the environment was very different. I didn’t want to go as big. It’s close to home, and I didn’t really have to spend as much as at other universities.”

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New TSTC diesel instructor ready to provide students with gateway to opportunity

When he was in high school, Brandon Foster discovered he was interested in pursuing a career in diesel mechanics. Now, a decade later, he is a Diesel Equipment Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College in Fort Bend County.

Foster appreciates TSTC’s mission of “placing more Texans in high-paying jobs” and being part of a gateway to better opportunity for students.

“My vision for my students is that they come to class excited, engaged and ready to ask questions,” he said. “And what I love about TSTC is that everyone is here for the student, and the student is encouraged to learn and be successful thereafter.”

The Goldthwaite native began his career as a part-time mechanic’s helper at a company his stepfather worked with at the time. He was still in high school when he received that opportunity, and it was a pivotal moment for him.

“This is the moment I knew I wanted to pursue a career in diesel mechanics,” said the 27-year-old. “Everything was bigger, better and louder. And the technical side is what keeps me going. There are so many advances always happening.”

After a stint working in the oil fields, which he said were not a good fit for him, he earned his associate degree in diesel mechanics in 2016 from a Central Texas college.

Driven by a constant motivation and interest in learning more, Foster now holds an Automotive Service Excellence Medium-Heavy Truck master certification, as well as a universal certification to work on automotive and residential air conditioning.

“No matter what you do, there is always room for improvement,” said Foster. “You have to continue learning if you want to be successful in your field.”

Foster has extensive experience working for diesel service centers, but the owner of a particular shop in Lampasas where he worked pushed him to continue his education and showed him what it means to keep learning.

“I owe this guy a lot. He shaped my life,” he said. “He introduced me to all of the possibilities and opportunities I could work for in this field. I’ll never forget how kind he was and what he taught me.”

Currently Foster is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology.

He said his career has taken him full circle, from industry to the classroom, and he knows that his purpose is to help others be successful.

Foster said his goal as an instructor is to share his knowledge and experience, and to create critical thinkers, problem-solvers and lifelong learners.

“I love watching students learn and have that “aha” moment when everything comes together for them,” said Foster. “This is what makes teaching so fulfilling and meaningful to me.”

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

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TSTC Student Uses Military Discipline in Studies

(WACO) – Discipline acquired from military service plays an important role in Texas State Technical College student Edward Hernandez’s day.

“I know I need to wake up at 5 a.m. so I’m not late,” said Hernandez, 50, of Killeen. “I work everything around school.”

Hernandez grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was a member of the U.S. Army for 20 years.

In between Auto Collision and Management Technology classes, Hernandez fits in lunch and does homework at the campus Veteran Services Center.

“This is therapy for me, being at school,” he said. “I want to go to work.”

Hernandez started this semester working on a certificate in Auto Collision Repair.

“Painting a car is like painting a picture,” he said. “It’s art.”

Tracy Marshall, senior instructor in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program, said Hernandez brings insight to class discussions.

“He is not afraid to comment,” Marshall said. “You can tell he has a general interest in learning. He is very quick to learn.”

Hernandez is among the fifth generation of family members who joined the Army. His great-grandfather fought in World War II, his grandfather took part in the Korean War, his father was part of the Vietnam War, and Hernandez had two deployments to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Hernandez’s son is currently in the Army.

“Joining the Army is a good job, plus you can retire early,” Hernandez said.

He learned about TSTC by searching online for auto collision and repair programs.

“I always wanted to learn to paint cars,” he said. “When I decided to do it, I wanted to learn to paint and repair. I have always loved cars.”

Hernandez graduated in December from TSTC with a certificate in Auto Collision Refinishing.

His goal after finishing college is to work at a restoration shop.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Austin Company and TSTC Build Welding Relationship

(HUTTO) – Lauren Caprio got her first welding job in 2016 shortly after graduating with a certificate from the Welding Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Williamson County.

Caprio, 33, of Pflugerville is a level III ultra-high-purity welder at Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin, where she works in a humidity-controlled clean room with employees wearing white protective gear to do tungsten inert gas welding and orbital welding. The controlled climate means employees can work with very pure materials to ensure quality for the biomedical, pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries.

“It is super-high accuracy,” Caprio said. “Everything has to be really exact. It you are detail-oriented, it is satisfying.”

The longer Caprio has worked at the company, the more complex her training has become.

“I know there is a ton of work for me here,” she said. “I feel really appreciated.”

Seventy percent of what the company has produced in the last 12 months has been exported overseas.

“We are passionate about building things in the United States,” said Robb Misso, the company’s chief executive officer. “Our ability to grow is limited to hiring good-quality welders, period.”

The company primarily looks for welding job candidates at TSTC and other two-year institutions.

“Building relationships with employers is essential to the success of our graduates and the TSTC mission,” said Edgar Padilla, provost of TSTC in Williamson County.

Misso said students learning about welding should think more high-tech as the industry evolves into automation and robotics. Parents and school counselors can play a role in encouraging students to pursue welding.

“We need a skilled workforce to do the assembly,” Misso said. “More TIG (tungsten inert gas), less MIG (metal inert gas welding).”

Misso said China, Vietnam and Malaysia are some of the nations he keeps an eye on regarding their technology. He said these countries have lower land costs, but the work quality does not compare to what is created in the U.S.

“For us to bring the jobs back to the U.S., we have to use technology to have a step up on other parts of the world,” Misso said.

Welding jobs in the United States are projected to grow to more than 427,000 through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, welding factors into industries such as aerospace, construction and manufacturing that the Texas Workforce Commission considers as being in-demand and high-earning in the state.

“Welding is an interesting science in that the physics of welding will never change, but the methods of teaching and technology available to do so will continue at a rapid pace,” Padilla said.

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