Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC HVAC Graduates to Experience Smart Technology in the Workplace

(HUTTO, Texas) – Today’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians need to know more than basic electrical theory and refrigeration processes. As technology evolves, so does the need to be familiar with how smart technology is being used in HVAC systems.

Curtis Christian, a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus, said the students who are adept at computers and electronics are going to have a hiring advantage.

“There is a lot of detailed work,” he said. “You have to get all the sensors and get everything lined up, and everything has a little code to go with it.”

Some of the technology being seen in the industry includes smart sensors that can communicate with downloaded phone apps and smart thermostats. Employers can provide training through outsourcing or equipment manufacturers.

Christian said the use of smart technology is evolving from the wiring work that technicians have done in the past. He said smart technology is being used more in new and remodeled construction.

“Now they are able to do it using a router and wireless technology,” he said. “You can put a sensor in a room and a controller somewhere else and dispense with all the wiring.”

The HVAC Technology program receives input from its state advisory board made up of industry personnel who give advice on how to adapt the curriculum to what is occurring in the workplace.

“They are interested in having guys that can understand and troubleshoot,” Christian said.

The number of jobs for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to increase to 414,200 workers through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It credits the increase in workers to growth in modernized climate-control systems. The Austin area had more than 1,800 HVAC technicians in May 2018, according to the labor bureau.

TSTC’s HVAC lab will undergo a makeover this year, including the installation of a variant refrigerated flow (VRF) digitally-controlled heat pump.

“It is made by Toshiba, so it has sensors that you would not find on a regular residential HVAC system,” Christian said. “VRF takes heat and puts it in another room. You still have the outdoor unit, and it ups the efficiency and is popular in new construction and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified construction.”

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TSTC Culinary Arts Program Reopens Student-Run Restaurant

(HUTTO, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program at the Williamson County campus has reopened Level 3, its student-run restaurant, for the spring semester.

Friday’s Mardi Gras menu included creamy new potato and leek soup, chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, and other dishes.

The menu and restaurant’s festive decor was designed by Luis Rodriguez of Hutto, a TSTC Culinary Arts student scheduled to graduate in May.

“I am a huge fan of Louisiana in general,” he said. “I love the culture there and how it feels.”

Rodriguez admitted he was nervous Friday about the restaurant’s opening.

“It was a little hectic in the middle, but we fired on all cylinders,” he said.

Students prepared the meal, seated patrons and served their dishes.

Caroline King, a TSTC Culinary Arts major from Round Rock, said she was excited about the restaurant’s opening week. Her favorite meal on the menu was shrimp po’boys, which could be grilled or fried.

“I love the whole production and being in the hive,” she said. “I’m always excited to cook.”

The restaurant attracted a mix of TSTC employees and area residents.

Timothy Hemesath, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, was one of the people making his way to the third floor of the East Williamson County Higher Education Center to eat. He said the Louisiana sunburst steak salad was well prepared.

“The students are learning a valuable lesson on how a restaurant operates, from orders to the happy customers,” Hemesath said.

Morgan Hubbard, a member of the Hutto Independent School District’s board, was taking a box of sugar dusted beignets home to her husband. She said the food and service were excellent.

Chef Nelson Adams, an instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, said the time was right to reopen the restaurant due to the number of students in the program. The student restaurant was last open more than four years ago, Nelson said.

The restaurant is donation-based, Nelson said. Patrons’ tips and donations in lieu of meal prices go to the Culinary Arts program to support students’ education needs.

The restaurant will be open on Fridays during the spring semester. Future themes and dates include Caribbean on March 6, Trendy Cuisine on March 20, Vietnamese on March 27, Germany on April 3 and Texas Buffet on April 17.

To get a registration link to sign up to attend the restaurant, email Adams at

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TSTC Precision Machining Graduates Needed in Williamson County

(HUTTO, Texas) – Astro Mechanics in Round Rock is one of the few manual machining shops in the Austin area, said Carrie Stemp, the company’s president.

“I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars looking in Texas, and I just don’t get anybody,” she said. “I may get one or two (potential employees), but they do not have experience in machining.”

Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program on the Williamson County campus in Hutto teaches both manual and computer numerically controlled machining processes.

Tim Hemesath, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said machining is facing a growing skills gap that is leaving jobs open. He called it a good problem to have.

“If you like to work with your hands and have an entrepreneurial spirit, then this trade is for you,” Hemesath said. “You definitely always have a job until you decide to retire.”

Stemp said the company began using an employee search firm for the first time this month to find qualified job candidates. She said machining should be taught in schools to entice youth to pursue the field once they graduate.

Jobs for machinists are projected to grow to more than 405,000 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had more than 26,000 machinists in May 2018, according to the agency.

In the third quarter of 2019, there were more than 360 machinists working in Williamson County making an average mean annual wage of $44,100, according to Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in Cedar Park. A majority of the county’s machinists work in machine shops, while others are in agriculture, construction and mining machinery manufacturing.

The agency predicts 74 jobs will be added in the next seven years in Williamson County.

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Leander Company Gifts Scholarship Money to TSTC

(HUTTO, Texas) – A Leander company recently gave a $10,000 gift to Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus for student scholarships.

One Source Manufacturing is a contract manufacturer specializing in precision machining for the aerospace, semiconductor, gas and oil industries. The company has about 100 employees.

“We are in the business of machining parts, so we have a hard time finding employees,” said Kevin Shipley, the company’s owner and president. “I am big on the trades.”

The scholarship money is for students living in the Leander area who are interesting in attending TSTC.

“We have been hyper-focused on the east side of the county,” said Michael Smith, a senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation. “Our mission is to take care of our backyard before we go into other areas. We have been focusing on Hutto, Taylor and Georgetown; Leander is next.”

Smith said TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology graduates recently toured the company. 

Shipley graduated in 1983 from the Computer Maintenance Technology program at Texas State Technical Institute (now Texas State Technical College) in Harlingen. He also employs several TSTC graduates.

Shipley said he anticipates the company giving additional scholarship money to TSTC in the future.

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program Expands in Anticipation of New Learning Initiative

(HUTTO, Texas) – As Texas State Technical College’s students at the East Williamson County campus are enjoying their holiday break, workers are physically expanding the Cybersecurity program’s first-floor learning spaces at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Once completed in early 2020, the Cybersecurity program’s newly enlarged lab will be rearranged to accommodate TSTC’s Performance-Based Education (PBE) initiative set to launch in August.

Joshua Schier, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program, said he is thrilled about the work taking place.

“This will be even more hands-on focused, and it’s going to create a lot of room for our programs to grow,” Schier said. “Students can work at their own pace and get through the system faster.”

Schier said the new space means more one-on-one time to engage with students.

“Change is always interesting, and it is exciting for us because I think of where it is going to free us up,” he said.

Starting in the fall semester, TSTC’s Performance-Based Education will give students in the Cybersecurity and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology programs the opportunity to learn course material at their own pace. PBE also will increase student access to programs throughout the year and generate a secondary learning transcript showing the competencies that students have completed.

“Students will have the ability to accelerate through their courses and program,” said Kyle Smith, TSTC’s deputy chief academic officer. “Such acceleration will be rewarded by waiving certain portions of the tuition and fees.”

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TSTC Holds Fall 2019 Commencement

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 40 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 6, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Several graduates either already have degree-related jobs or are looking for such work opportunities.

Jonathan Guzman of Hutto received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He is looking in the area for fabrication jobs.

Guzman said he enjoyed learning about stick welding in his classes.

“I like the hands-on teaching,” he said. “The instructors are always here to help you.”

Guzman said he plans to go out to eat with his relatives after the ceremony.

“I’m pumped and excited,” he said. 

Ashton Taylor of Hutto received a Cybersecurity certificate. He said he will take a short break because of the holidays and continue job hunting, most likely in the Hutto area. 

“I’m relieved,” he said about graduating.

Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s president emeritus, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

“We are proud of our graduates and are very excited that they will leave TSTC ready to put their training skills to work in great paying, high demand jobs,” Stuckly said.

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TSTC Alumnus Uses Curiosity to Progress in Career

(HUTTO, Texas) – Edreich Torres grew up in Georgetown taking broken items and putting them back together.

“I believe that my love for knowing how things work and wanting to fix them has always driven me to pursue the next big challenge that awaits me,” he said.

Torres graduated in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Mechanical Specialization from Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus.

“TSTC helped me learn how to create, interpret and read many different types of schematics,” he said. “TSTC taught me how to troubleshoot fluid, mechanical and electrical systems.”

Lance Antilley, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems (formerly Industrial Maintenance) program, said Torres is a good example of the kind of graduates TSTC produces for employers. Students in the program learn about basic electrical theory, boiler maintenance, hydraulics, pumps and other equipment.

“He is a driven individual and an excellent technician,” Antilley said. “He picked up on everything very quickly.”

Torres has been at ICU Medical in Austin for about a year and is a senior electromechanical technician. The job requires him to have knowledge about electrical distribution panels, fluid systems, mechanical systems and programmable logic controls.

“Here at ICU, I help fix, maintain and troubleshoot many different types of issues with fabrication machines that make IV bags for hospitals,” Torres said.

Torres, who lives in Jarrell, said the company’s teamwork drives him in his work.

“The culture that has been established here at ICU Medical has taught me to work more methodically and diligently when troubleshooting,” he said. “This low-stress environment motivates me to perform at a higher level.”

California-based ICU Medical specializes in the development, manufacturing and sale of critical care products for cardiac monitoring, closed-system transfers and infusion therapy.

Aaron Keat, ICU Medical’s talent acquisition lead in Austin, said the company works with organizations that help place military veterans and is represented at career fairs to find technically skilled job candidates. The company also partners with TSTC.

“Over the last several years, it has been increasingly more challenging to find qualified candidates to fill our maintenance-mechanic openings here in Austin,” Keat said.

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Leander Student Eager to Mark Graduation Milestone at TSTC

(HUTTO, Texas) – Nick Short of Leander copes daily with his challenges, using determination and heart.

Short, a Cybersecurity student at Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus, has dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He is reaping the rewards of his hard work as a candidate for graduation at TSTC’s Fall 2019 Commencement at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

“I like the feeling of getting over certain milestones,” Short said. “I have had to really push myself to do what I need to be doing. I struggle some.”

Working in the technology field runs in Short’s family. His father works at Cisco in Austin and his brother is a network engineer.

“I feel really confident with what I know,” Short said.

Joshua Schier, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor, said he admired Short’s natural instinct to understand concepts.

“Nick has made my job easier,” he said. “Nick will go wherever he wants to go. He is confident in his abilities.”

Short was home-schooled and attended public school until going to college.

“In eighth grade, I had a third-grade reading and spelling level,” Short said. “At that point, my mother taught me to push through it.”

He attended another two-year college in the Austin area before enrolling at TSTC, which he chose because it offered the program he was interested in and was close to home.

“The people I have met are pretty cool,” Short said. “The people here are passionate about getting the material down.”

Short plans to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification test in December. After that, he will leave in January for Colorado, where he will participate in a Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School curriculum focused on film, journalism and photography. Short said he will use the trip as an outlet for creativity and to grow in his faith.

“Six months is a long time taking a hiatus from what all I have been doing, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Short also wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree and work in the security field in the Austin area in the future.

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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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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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