Category Archives: Williamson County

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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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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TSTC Culinary Arts Graduate Cooking His Way to Success

(HUTTO, Texas) – Bradley Streetman’s days are filled with green salads, fried chicken sandwiches and ceviche tostadas.

Streetman, a graduate of Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus, has worked as a line cook for about a year and a half at Geraldine’s at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin. He recently moved from cooking in the evenings to mornings.

“I like nights, but it’s nice to have a little more of a life after work,” Streetman said.

A typical workday involves getting to the hotel at about 7:30 a.m. and setting up his cooking station. He said the kitchen is divided into five stations: pastry, pantry, fried, grilled and saute.  The restaurant also handles room service and poolside cabana orders.

“We don’t just have anybody (as a line cook). They need to have good knife and communication skills and get along with everyone on the line,” he said.

Streetman said he enjoys learning how to cook new dishes, something he gets to do at the restaurant with other line cooks to prepare for new menu items.

“I get to learn something new every day,” he said. “It’s a fun environment to work in.”

Streetman said he wants to get professional cooking experience in Austin and later transfer to another Kimpton-owned hotel.

Before attending TSTC, Streetman was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, studied radiology and worked in construction. He said he enjoyed barbecuing at home and decided to expand his culinary knowledge by making the career change.

Streetman studied with TSTC Chef Nelson Adams during his last semester at TSTC. Adams said Streetman asked thoughtful questions and he is happy to see his professional progress.

“It’s who you know that gets you into jobs like that,” Adams said. “Competition is fierce in the culinary industry.”

Streetman graduated in 2019 from TSTC with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.

“TSTC was a life-changing experience,” he said.

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TSTC Holds Summer 2019 Commencement

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 40 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2019 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 9, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Celina Estrada-Thomas, superintendent of the Hutto Independent School District, gave the commencement address. She told graduates to celebrate their accomplishments and surround themselves with positive and encouraging people.

Estrada-Thomas also said grit goes a long way in building success.

“The fact you are here tonight tells me you have grit,” she said.

Estrada-Thomas told graduates they will be called upon in their workplaces to find new solutions to old problems. And, she said graduates should learn from their mistakes and challenges. 

The Provost’s Achievement Award was given to Dominick Gonzales Jr. of Hutto, who received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.

“I am going to miss the camaraderie and the staff that have motivated me to keep going,” he said.

Gonzales is a line cook, butcher and baker at the Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden in Austin. 

Another graduate, Roman Sustaita of Granger, received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He said he will miss the instructors.

He is working at AiRCO Mechanical in Round Rock, welding exhaust ducts and grease ducts.

“Growing up in an agricultural town, I did a ton of welding,” Sustaita said. 

TSTC has more than 1,000 students graduating this summer across the state.

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TSTC HVAC Technology Program Aims to Provide Workers for Growing Region

(HUTTO, Texas) – As the Austin area continues to grow with residential housing and high-rise buildings, so does the need for qualified heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians.

“This is a really high-tech area, but just because you live in a town for high-tech, not everybody is,” said Curtis Christian, an HVAC Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus in Hutto. “The problem I have noticed is a huge percentage of them have never worked on anything.”

Texas has more than 25,200 HVAC mechanics and installers earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Austin-Round Rock area has more than 1,800 HVAC mechanics and installers. The Arlington-Dallas-Fort Worth area has the most workers in the state with more than 7,100.

Even with economic growth and more people moving to Central Texas, some area businessmen said they still have a hard time finding qualified workers.

“This time of year we are working until midnight because we are short-staffed,” said Roland Arrisola, vice president of operations at Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Austin and secretary on the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association’s executive board. “We don’t have enough workers to serve our customers.”

Joe Strazza, owner of Precision Heating and Air in Austin, said he has noticed HVAC technicians tend to jump from business to business, chasing money and benefits. But, he said some of those same employees tend to return to work where they started.

“HVAC is a tough business,” Strazza said. “It is very hot in the attic, but it is rewarding if you are a dedicated worker and dedicated to succeed.”

Christian said students who have experience working on vehicles tend to adapt well to TSTC’s HVAC Technology program.

“Part-time work would be great for the students,” Christian said. “It is a good thing to do.”

Christian said students graduating from TSTC’s HVAC Technology program get jobs as service workers on the residential side or as helpers on the commercial side of HVAC.  Some graduates have even gone to work in the refrigeration field.

The number of HVAC mechanics and installers is projected to grow nationwide to more than 381,000 by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency indicates those with computer and electronics skills have better chances at jobs.

Strazza said the conversation needs to change in homes and high schools about how students should approach choosing whether to attend a four-year college or a two-year technical college.

“I have employees making more than $100,000 a year, and they are not in any student loan debt,” he said. “Parents, I believe, are not educated at how much money can be made in this industry. This is a career, not a job. A lot of people don’t realize that.”

TSTC offers the Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate in HVAC Technology at the East Williamson County campus.

“The HVAC industry presents tremendous opportunities for students seeking a high-paying career with upward mobility,” said Edgar Padilla, provost of TSTC’s East Williamson County campus and statewide chief of Strategic Partnerships and Production. “We work diligently with area employers to create employment for our graduates, and TSTC is proud to be a leader in the delivery of HVAC training across the state.”

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TSTC in East Williamson County Holds Spring Commencement

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 20 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Spring 2019 Commencement held Friday, May 3, at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center in Hutto.

Guest speaker Terry Cook, the Williamson County commissioner for Precinct 1, cited a 2018 manufacturing skills report from Deloitte indicating there will be 2.4 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2028 with an economic impact of $2.5 trillion.

Cook cited the report’s proclaiming of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a time now requiring workers to have skills in critical thinking, computers and tools. She said soft skills, including creativity and attention to detail, will be looked at more.

“Every day will be a new challenge,” Cook said.

She told graduates they are worth every dollar they are paid and not to undervalue themselves.

“Make sure you get your worth,” Cook said. “You are a huge part of our future.”

Many of the graduates already have jobs.

Raymond Multer of Red Rock in Bastrop County received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He attended classes at night so he could work during the day.

“I knew a little bit (about welding), but I like hands-on learning,” Multer said. “I learn better when I get to touch stuff.”

Multer said he was happy his mother could see him walk across the stage. After the ceremony, he and his family were going to eat barbecue.

Multer is working in the maintenance area at Darling International in Bastrop.

Some of the graduates will continue job hunting.

Jason Lin of Cedar Park received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology.

“It is pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s seems to have gone by in a blink. It (TSTC) has met my expectations, and it is where I felt like I should be.”

This was the fourth commencement ceremony held on campus. Previous TSTC in East Williamson County ceremonies have been held in conjunction with Texas State Technical College’s Commencement in Waco.

TSTC has more than 1,000 students graduating this spring across the state.

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TSTC in East Williamson County Holds Spring Commencement