Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC Student Utilizes Scholarship for Hutto Residents

(HUTTO, Texas) – Matthew Barringer’s most prized possession is on four wheels and comes with history.

He owns a 1998 Dodge Dakota that belonged to his grandfather, who died when Barringer was in elementary school.

“That is the only physical memory I have of him,” said Barringer, a Hutto resident.

When it came time to choose where to go to college, Barringer said he knew a four-year university was not for him. He considered going into police work after graduation but decided to take his love of vehicles and make a career out of it. He chose Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus to study Automotive Technology.

“It has been the best decision I have ever made,” Barringer said. “I am so happy here. I like not having big student loans so I can make money right out of the gate.”

Barringer is a recipient of the Hutto Education Foundation’s scholarship, a joint effort with the city of Hutto and The TSTC Foundation.

“Since 2006, the (Hutto Education Foundation) mission has been to enhance educational opportunities for students and staff in the Hutto Independent School District through our grant and scholarship programs,” said Lizzy Samples, the foundation’s director of community education. “We are excited to partner with TSTC to provide for Hutto ISD graduates/TSTC students in their third and fourth semesters. With deep Hutto roots and with a TSTC hands-on educational experience, these students are bound for greatness.”

Barringer is using the scholarship so he can pay for the fall semester and not take out a loan. 

“Here (at TSTC), I wake up and go to class, and I am ready to learn,” he said.

Barringer is a 2018 graduate of Hutto High School, where he played football.

“He is a great kid,” said Bradley LaPlante, the high school’s head football coach and athletics director. “He always had a nice souped-up truck in the parking lot that was always fresh and clean. With him being in the Automotive Technology program, I think that is right up his alley.”

In the spring, Barringer will do a program-required cooperative at a Hutto-area dealership. He wants to build on his interest in electrical work, learning from experienced automotive technicians.

Barringer’s goal is to stay in the area to work once he graduates from TSTC.

“For him, he is going to be successful at what he puts his mind to and what he wants to do,” LaPlante said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC Ready to Meet Aviation Job Needs in Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – The Texas aviation and aerospace industry is responsible for creating more than 778,000 jobs and a payroll of more than $30 billion, according to the Texas Department of Transportation’s 2018 Texas Aviation Economic Impact Study. 

“Aviation is a huge, growing field,” said Michael Smith, senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation at Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus. “Aviation is a prime opportunity because you have an aging workforce.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a need for more than 23,000 avionics technicians and more than 143,000 aviation mechanics and service technicians by 2029.

“We have two generations of workers that never went into those fields,” Smith said.

Williamson County residents interested in aerospace and aviation careers can learn needed skills in the Industrial Systems, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology programs at TSTC’s campus in Hutto. 

Robert Capps, TSTC’s statewide lead for the Aviation Maintenance department, said the COVID-19 pandemic has not decreased students’ desire to study in TSTC’s Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology programs in Abilene, Harlingen and Waco. 

“We pull in quite a few students from the Williamson County area,” Capps said. “There is certainly plenty of interest.”

Capps said due to the popularity of TSTC’s aviation maintenance programs, spring student intakes are being considered for the first time at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses. Spring intakes will continue at the Waco campus.

Capps said he advises students visiting the aviation maintenance programs to be willing to move where their first job is.

“Unlike automotive, where you have mom-and-pop shops spring up all over the place, there are very few mom-and-pop shops popping up for aviation maintenance,” he said. “Most of the work is done in hubs.”

The Georgetown Municipal Airport can be considered Williamson County’s aviation hub, as more than 20 aviation-related businesses are clustered there. The airport has two runways, the longest being 5,004 feet in length. The airport’s economic impact is more than 500 jobs with a payroll that exceeds $14 million, according to TxDOT’s 2018 aviation impact study. 

Joseph Carney, the airport’s manager, said encouraging students to pursue aerospace and aviation careers should start in high school. He cited the Georgetown Independent School District’s Tango Flight program as a way to give students hands-on experience by building small airplanes to sell.

“This exposes the students to colleges with aviation programs,” Carney said. “They are not going into college completely blind.” 

One of Cedar Park’s largest employers, Firefly Aerospace, has more than 150 employees, according to the Cedar Park Economic Development Corp. The company specializes in designing, manufacturing and operating reliable launch vehicles. It has hired TSTC alumni for jobs in machining, manufacturing, engineering and technology integration.

Ben White, president and chief executive officer of the Cedar Park EDC, said Firefly Aerospace’s presence in the city and county signals a change in the economy.

“I think it has demonstrated Cedar Park can be home to high-tech and forward-thinking companies,” he said. “It is a startup company working with NASA to deliver payloads to the moon. There are many cities and companies in Texas that are working on that. That kind of demonstrates the progression of the workforce in Williamson County. It is becoming more of a high-tech workforce.”

There have been 31 openings for avionics technicians advertised through Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in the last 12 months. Several of the openings have been at Firefly Aerospace.

White predicts Cedar Park will be the next employment hub for the Austin area.

“You will see a lot of technical jobs, high-tech jobs, Firefly-like corporations, but you will also see regional headquarters and office support for corporations coming here,” he said.

TSTC also offers Aircraft Pilot Training Technology and Avionics Technology in Waco.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology Program in Williamson County Ready to Fill Area Jobs

(HUTTO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program has started using a supplemental curriculum from the National Tool &Machining Association this fall to teach students.

Darren Block, TSTC’s statewide program lead, said students will get a more thorough education in machining, combined with the professional knowledge that faculty members bring to labs and lectures.

The program is using a hybrid teaching format for classes, with some being online and others involving in-person lab work.

Block is feeling good about machining jobs in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If it is man-made, we had our hands on it,” he said.

Waggoner Manufacturing Inc. in Round Rock manufactures and services aluminum, machined plastic, and stainless steel components and parts for the worldwide semiconductor automation and communication industries. 

Michael Wohlford, the company’s plant manager, said high school students, and those who want a career change, should have a personal appreciation for machining.

“They can watch YouTube videos and see firsthand how the CNC (computer numerical controlled) machines work, and they can have stars in their eyes and say it’s really cool and they would want to learn how to get into that,” Wohlford said.

He said the company likes to have job applicants who already have experience working with CNC machines in machine shops. New hires are trained in the company’s way of doing work.

Mark Thomas, president and chief executive officer of the Taylor Economic Development Corp., has reason to be optimistic about the future.

“We have had many projects, from small companies all the way to larger ones, that would love to have some level of comfort that they can hire machinists if they moved to our area,” he said.

Thomas said there is promise for the 750-acre RCR Taylor Logistics Park west of the city. The industrial park offers Union Pacific and BNSF rail service and has Foreign Trade Zone, Opportunity Zone and Triple Freeport designations.

“Our expectation is there will be advanced manufacturing and potential suppliers that we have already been talking to coming into that rail park,” Thomas said. “If we can say there is a training capacity for graduates or there are workers out there that need good jobs, any of these we can put to a good advantage to create jobs in the Taylor area.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Foundation, Hutto Education Foundation Honor Scholarship Recipients

(HUTTO, Texas) – Representatives of The TSTC Foundation and the Hutto Education Foundation gathered virtually on Wednesday morning to honor recipients of a jointly sponsored scholarship for Hutto residents.

“The most significant thing with this partnership is that we are talking about retention,” said Beth Wooten, chief executive officer of The TSTC Foundation. “There are scholarship opportunities that help get students in the front door, but retention is a significant challenge. We all recognize that. The significance here is we are focusing on getting students across the finish line.”

The scholarship assists students in their third and fourth semesters at any Texas State Technical College campus. Recipients must be Hutto High School graduates and in good academic standing at TSTC.

“This is the best part of my job,” Wooten said. “The mission of The TSTC Foundation is really pretty simple: Our role is to raise scholarship funds and emergency aid to eliminate financial barriers for students.”

The scholarship recipients are Kevin Aguilar, Matthew Barringer, Joshua Carrillo, Daxxon Derton, Christopher Hawkins, Kent Jordan and Julio Diego Vazquez.

“Most of the students I have known since they were teeny-tiny,” said Michael Smith, a senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation. “I am so excited to see what happens with you all.”

Barringer graduated in 2018 from Hutto High School and is studying Automotive Technology at TSTC’s Waco campus. For him, receiving the scholarship means he can pay for the fall semester and not take out a student loan. Barringer is scheduled to graduate in the spring.

“TSTC means a lot to me because I kind of found it when I was at a bad time and I was not enjoying regular school,” he said. “It was a saving grace for me. TSTC is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.”

The city of Hutto and the Hutto Education Foundation are providing scholarship funding through The TSTC Foundation. 

“This is just the beginning,” said Lizzie Samples, director of the Hutto Education Foundation. “Being Hutto Hippos, and the tools you have been given through Hutto ISD and the tools TSTC has provided you, you are going to make a difference in our world.”

Future and current Hutto High School graduates can talk to a TSTC enrollment coach for more information on the scholarship.

“My hope for Hutto ISD students is they continue to realize the value and viability of investing in their education right here in Hutto,” said Lissa Adams, associate provost of TSTC’s Williamson County campus.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Ready to Welcome Students Back This Fall in Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – Students attending Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus will see differences in how they learn and interact as they start the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31.

Students will see ample signage promoting campus health and safety, and social distancing will be practiced in labs. Students will also have designated entrances and exits at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. Face coverings will be required on campus at all times. 

One of the biggest changes is how classes will be taught, which began being modified in late March.

The Cybersecurity program and the first-semester college preparation course will move online.

The Culinary Arts, Industrial Systems, Precision Machining Technology, Welding Technology and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology programs will teach in a hybrid format, with on-campus labs and online lectures and tests. 

The new format is something Nelson Adams, lead instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, is excited about. The revamped curriculum will teach students what Adams said employers are looking for, graduates who have sound customer service and soft skills, along with the ability to ask for help and accept feedback.

“There will be a social aspect as they (students) share their discoveries with their cohort by way of short videos or posts,” Adams said. “Our students will be learning a full dimension of the industry that they are entering. Culinary Arts students will not just be watching videos. Instead, they will be studying recipes, costing out ingredients, researching cultures, and coming into the lab to demonstrate what they have learned by cooking the food they understand in a whole new spectrum.”

Tutoring will be available virtually. Students will go to TSTC’s student portal and click on the tutoring icon to fill out a form requesting help. The tutoring staff will connect students virtually to statewide tutors in their subject areas.

Something that is not changing is the commitment to students.

“Career Services is always here to help students, pandemic or not,” said Hunter Henry, a Career Services associate at the Williamson County campus. “From our side of things, students can feel safe in knowing that we can do practically all of our work with them without needing to be in the same room. On top of that, we still have employers hungry for the kinds of skills we teach here at TSTC.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Cybersecurity Program Ready to Teach New Students This Fall

(HUTTO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Cybersecurity program at the Williamson County campus is shifting all teaching and labs online this fall.

The prospect of reaching prospective students in the Austin area and beyond to teach them about computer systems forensics, digital forensics, routers and other topics is proving exciting to Joshua Schier, the program’s lead instructor.

“When winds of change are blowing, the best thing you can do is accept it and adapt to the current condition,” he said. “And as the year of the coronavirus has put many of us in this situation, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. This is actually a fantastic opportunity. The obvious step for us was to enhance and improve our online teaching methodologies and curriculum.”

Doug Peters, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor, said students taking classes online can help themselves adjust to doing the remote work that a lot of them could encounter in  the workplace. He said creating accountability will be a component of all classes, from gathering at regular times online to turning homework in on time.

New to the program this fall will be a one-semester Occupational Skills Award in Basic Cybersecurity consisting of three classes. The student can complete this in four months.

“This will fast-track Texans into entry-level roles in a new career or provide specialized training for Texans to advance in their current field,” Schier said.

Cara DiMattina-Ryan, chief strategy officer for Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in Cedar Park, said Burnet, Caldwell and Llano counties, along with other rural counties in Central Texas, are increasing broadband capability for residents. She said this could drive more people to study cybersecurity and other programs online and hopefully make it possible for them to work in their home counties.

Brian Hernandez, Workforce Solutions’ communications director, said there are more than 800 network and computer systems administrator jobs open and more than 500 information security analyst positions open in the agency’s 10-county area.

“The more certifications you add on, the more you increase your value and demand for services,” he said. “We would much rather develop our local workforce to move them from under-employment to gainful employment.”

Schier said the key to Williamson County’s Cybersecurity graduates getting good-paying jobs in the region is by word of mouth. He cited Contigo Technology in Austin as an example of an area company that has hired TSTC program graduates. 

DiMattina-Ryan said Workforce Solutions has found several California tech companies are starting to consider moving to Texas, specifically the Greater Austin area.

“As that increases, that will also increase job potential and diversify those skills that we need in these kinds of cyber areas and these information technology fields in general,” she said.

Texas had more than 10,400 information security analysts earning an annual mean wage of $108,810 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Austin-Round Rock area employed more than 1,500 information security analysts making an annual mean wage of $114,280 in May 2019, according to the agency.

The need for information security analysts is expected to rise to more than 147,000 through 2028, according to the agency. The need for workers is attributed to companies having to fight sophisticated hackers in order to protect sensitive information.

“If you are interested in this kind of field, I think it is the absolutely right time to explore,” DiMattina-Ryan said. “What a great profession you can do all online. COVID-19 is changing the landscape of how we are doing business and how we are looking at business.”

TSTC’s Cybersecurity programs at the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses also will move online this fall. The online Digital Forensics Specialist advanced technical certificate will expand to these campuses, including Williamson County.

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Programs Ready to Welcome Night Students This Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Hosts Drive-In Celebration for Spring Graduates – Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College honored its spring graduates Friday with a drive-in celebration.

Instructors and staff members lined up at the entrance to the East Williamson County Higher Education Center and cheered graduates and their relatives as they drove onto campus in decorated vehicles. Participating graduates were eligible for a drawing to win a professional diploma frame and other prizes.

Some graduates took photos in front of a TSTC-themed banner and received a diploma cover and yard sign before leaving campus. The actual diplomas and certificates have been mailed to graduates.

“We are trying to limit contact with each other,” said Chemese Armstrong, TSTC’s campus enrollment officer.

This is the first time TSTC has honored its graduates in this manner.

“We want to show them we are proud, and this is our way of doing that,” Armstrong said.

Instructors were happy to see their students take the next big step in their lives.

“As an industry, culinary arts is fortunate to have such innovative minds pursuing their careers, especially in times like this when the making and breaking of businesses is completely contingent on their adaptability,” said Nelson Adams, lead instructor of TSTC’s Culinary Arts program.

Joshua Schier, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program, said graduates are ready to enter a workforce that has seen dramatic changes this year.

“We who celebrate all your achievements at TSTC are certain of one thing: You will not let us down,” he said. “You are TSTC graduates!”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 



TSTC Graduates Sought After by Area Companies

(HUTTO, Texas) – Some recent graduates of Texas State Technical College are in-demand by several area companies despite the current economic climate.  

Hunter Henry, a TSTC Career Services associate at the Williamson County campus, said some companies within a 100-mile radius of Hutto have contacted him about multiple open positions they have available. He noticed that jobs for maintenance technicians are among the most plentiful. 

Michael Smith, a senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation, said TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology programs are also in demand from employee-seeking companies.  Smith works with area companies to build relationships with the college.

“We push for quality,” he said.

Some of the common questions Henry has received from company representatives include how students are doing and if they are looking for jobs.

“I have gotten a lot of questions on what students are expecting to make after they graduate,” Henry said. “They are asking me for that information, which I thought was interesting.”

TSTC’s Williamson County campus had about 40 candidates for graduation in the spring semester. 

Some of the companies that have hired TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology graduates in the past include Athena Manufacturing in Austin and TASUS Corp. in Georgetown. Babeco Fabrication and Machining in Taylor has hired Welding Technology majors, and Cisco systems in Austin has hired Cybersecurity graduates. 

John Newman, owner and chief financial officer of Athena Manufacturing, said his company looks for good students in the high-demand programs at the Williamson County campus. He said the company has about 30 open positions.

“We find students that are interested in what we do and are being educated to do what we do and we find that to be very helpful,” Newman said.

The current economic challenges are calling for creativity for TSTC and area companies alike.

Henry envisions virtual employer spotlights for companies to showcase their work to students, who are their prospective employees.

“One of the things I am excited about in the future is the fact that despite everything that has been happening, the unemployment rate in Texas has been significantly lower than the national average,” Henry said. “I can expect at least in the job market in my area, we will see a lot of resiliency and companies that are innovating and changing the way they do business.”

Lissa Adams, associate provost of TSTC’s Williamson County campus, said she envisions a gradual shift to keep supply chains local. She said TSTC plays a role in economic development discussions as companies are enticed to come to Hutto and the surrounding area.

“They look at how quickly they can get talent and are trained,” Adams said. “Beyond our graduates, that speaks to our workforce. The sheer volume of companies that are interested in this sector, the manufacturing industry, highlights that need.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Industrial Systems program offers a diversity of classes for TSTC students

(ABILENE, Texas) – The Industrial Systems program at Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene offers a diverse curriculum for students.

Instructor Daniel Diaz said students learn different aspects of industrial systems, from hydraulics and electronics to welding and small engine repair.

“We have had students get jobs with the wind industry, prisons and hospitals,” Diaz said. “We teach a lot of different facets, and that helps students in the job market. No matter what the market is doing, we will train students with the skills they need to go where they want to.”

During the three-semester program for the Industrial Systems Mechanic certificate, students perform industry-standard safety procedures, learn mechanical and electrical skills, perfect diagnostic techniques, and read and interpret schematics. In addition, students work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers and programmable logic controllers.

Current students returned to the Abilene facility this month to complete required lab sessions. Diaz said students are practicing social distancing and have adapted to new safety guidelines, including facial coverings.

“This has taught students to adapt to what has been given to them,” Diaz said. “At any job, you are going to have to adapt and change some things on the fly. This is a good way for students to learn that.”

Diaz said the new safety guidelines have helped him as an instructor.

“It is a good teachable moment. We have to show the students how to be able to adapt to something new,” he said.

Diaz said classes include online lectures, but the most important portion of the course takes place in lab sessions.

“All of the skills students learn come in the form of the labs,” he said. “That is where the bulk of the learning is done.”

TSTC also offers Industrial Systems programs at the East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to