Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC Student Finds Passion in Welding

(HUTTO) – After working for a tree-trimming company for three years, Texas State Technical College student David Suarez wasn’t quite sure what he wanted as a career, but he knew that wasn’t it.

He came across welding by chance at work.

“We have a skid-steer at work. The bucket on it broke, and it needed to be welded,” Suarez said. “The boss is the one who usually welds things up, but he wasn’t there that day. His son was there, and he was welding it. He looked at me and asked, ‘You want to give it a shot?’ I said sure. And ever since that moment, I was hooked on it.”

The Hutto native and now Taylor resident looked up welding colleges and found that TSTC was right in his backyard.

“I have a couple of friends, probably five or so, that went there, and they loved it,” he said. “They’re out welding for a living, so I figured I’d sign up and see what it was all about.”

So far, he is enjoying his classes.

“All the people in there are super friendly and always willing to help,” Suarez said. “They do whatever it takes to make sure we are all in this together and no one is falling behind. As far as the teachers, they’re always in a good mood and willing to help you.’”

Suarez has even taken up some welding projects outside of class.

“If I’m not welding at school, I’m at home coming up with something,” he said. “I have a buddy who has a 4Runner, and we go off-roading. When you’re off-roading, you’re bumping into trees and rocks and all sorts of stuff, so he has a bumper that he wants to fit. It has to be welded to the frame of the 4Runner, so I’m going to start that project soon.”

In his free time, Suarez is a firefighter with the Taylor Volunteer Fire Department.

“It started about a year ago,” he said. “One of my co-workers has been doing it for six or seven years, and he’d been trying to get me to join. You get to experience so much — going through the academy and getting certified through the TEEX of Texas A&M. It’s always rewarding to feel like you can give back to the community and feel like you’re putting your part in.”

When he isn’t busy with school, work or volunteering, Suarez likes to spend his time outdoors.

“I’m into fishing and hunting,” he said. “Whether I’m searching for whitetails, doves, turkey — you just sit back and enjoy nature. You never know what’s going to come out, so it’s always a neat experience just having that appreciation for nature and what it has to offer.”

Now in his second semester, Suarez isn’t yet sure what he wants to do when he graduates.

“Welding can take you all sorts of different ways,” he said. “I have a couple of friends doing structural welding; I have a couple of friends doing pipeline welding. There’s TIG stainless steel welding. I have a lot more to learn before I feel like I can make a decision on what exactly I want to do with my welding education.”

Suarez enjoys TSTC’s teaching style and recommends it to those looking for something different.

“In high school I had good grades, but sitting in a classroom wasn’t for me,” he said. “Being here at TSTC, the majority of the time you’re hands-on learning.”

TSTC is registering for the fall semester through Monday, Aug. 20. For more information on TSTC and the Welding program, visit

TSTC Registration Rallies Begin June 20

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County will host two Registration Rallies this summer – all part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for students starting classes in the fall semester. The first rally will be held on Wednesday, June 20, with the second following on Tuesday, July 24.

Recruiting and Admissions staff will be on standby to walk students through the registration process. They will also offer tours and help with applications.

The Registration Rallies will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center. Attendees will be able to meet with faculty, learn more about the different technologies offered at the Williamson County campus and tour the facilities.

In addition to Recruiting and Admissions; personnel from Financial Aid, Testing, Student Success and Veteran Services will be available to answer questions and lend a helping hand. Prospective students will be able to learn all about resources available to them.

Coordinator of recruitment Melissa Zamora says the rallies offer students the convenience of getting everything done at once.

“Registration rallies are a great opportunity for the community and students to get information, tour and register on the spot with every department on hand,” Zamora said.

Students who need help finalizing their registration are encouraged to bring the following: copy of driver’s license, high school transcript or GED, any college transcripts, proof of bacterial meningitis vaccination and TSI scores.

For more information on the Registration Rally, go to

TSTC Names Block Campus Director

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County has named Darren Block as its new Campus Director and Campus Academic Manager.

Block retired from the Army in 2010 as a sergeant first class

“I was a motor sergeant or a maintenance supervisor,” he said. “I was in charge of the motor pool. I was in charge of machine shops, maintenance shops, welding shops. I retired as an E-7 sergeant first class, but I was doing the job of an E-8 first sergeant. So, a lot of admin stuff, a lot of running a company-sized element in the army. That’s what I did in the last 10 years.”

After retiring, he attended TSTC in Waco and graduated from the college’s Mechanical Engineering Technology (now Precision Machining Technology) program with a 4.0 GPA.

“I wanted to become an engineer, and that was the liaison in between the two,” Block said.

After working in the field for a while, Block paid a visit to TSTC in Waco to update his machining software.

“Well, I went to Waco for software, and while I was there, Mr. Rodriguez (Jose Rodriguez, statewide division director of Production Manufacturing) asked me if I’d ever considered teaching,” Block said. “I said I hadn’t, and he asked, ‘Would you? We’d really like to have you.’ So I applied for it, and they hired me.”

Block began teaching Precision Machining at TSTC in Williamson County in 2014 in the early stages of the program and grew to love the profession.

“I really love technical school,” he said. “You can walk into any program here and ask the guys anything. They’re the product-knowledge experts. So if I have a problem with HVAC, I go talk to those guys. They’ll troubleshoot with me right here, right now. Or welding — I’m taking welding classes. You can learn anything you want to. That’s the best part.”

Though his new position focuses more on the management side of things, Block is glad to lend support to his colleagues.

“It’s broader,” he said. “I’m more involved in streamlining ways to teach or processes, like when we order tools or expendables, I’m making that process easier and more efficient. We’re working on making syllabi easier for instructors so they don’t have to spend time doing that when they could be spending time on teaching. I’m trying to do the background legwork for them.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said Block is a great asset to the leadership team.

“We are pleased to have a proven leader at the helm of our student learning operations and proud that one of our own, a TSTC graduate, is leading our instructional team on campus,” he said. “Darren has already proven that he has the subject-matter expertise to effectively manage our instructional programs, and as we grow, we will continue developing our leadership team internally.”

Block said he is happy to be in a position where he can effect change.

“I’m glad that I am in a position where I can make a difference, a good one,” he said. “That’s the main reason I took this position.”

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit

TSTC Graduates 12 at First Commencement

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College celebrated its first commencement ceremony in Hutto Friday, May 11. Twelve graduates walked the stage in the presence of their family and friends.

“Today is a celebration of our graduates and recognition of all they have accomplished,” TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said. “Tonight’s ceremony acknowledges the completion of study and dedication by our spring graduates and signifies the beginning of their professional careers.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He urged the students to keep learning.

“Technology is moving constantly,” Reeser said. “You picked the best school you can possibly attend in terms of technology, but if you want to be an outstanding employee, if you want to be someone that employers treasure and pay well and promote, here’s what you have to know: as technology moves, you must move too.”

Reeser believes that the students learned more than just technical know-how from TSTC.

“You have been taught, by these faculty, not just knowledge and skills, but how to learn,” Reeser said.

Industrial Electrical Systems graduate Eyosias Gemechu was selected for the Provost Award, an award given to a student who has demonstrated high academic performance, exceptional character and student leadership, and who has influenced their peers to strive for excellence.

“I was so excited and nervous at the same time,” Gemechu said. “I wish my mom was able to be here.”

Gemechu plans to continue his education with TSTC.

Welding graduate Cesar Carrillo, who is working as a welder for Jay-Reese Contractors, said he was happy to reach this milestone.

“It feels good,” he said. “It feels like a weight lifted off my back. I’m being shipped off to Iowa Sunday for work.”

TSTC in Williamson County graduates earned degrees in six of the programs offered at the campus — Culinary Arts, Cyber Security, Industrial Electrical Systems, Industrial Maintenance, Precision Machining Technology and Welding.

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC to Host First Commencement in Hutto

(HUTTO) – When Quinton Hooper walks the stage next Friday at Texas State Technical College’s first commencement ceremony in Hutto, he’ll be joining a long line of technical workers in his family.

Hooper, an Industrial Maintenance student, previously studied under the Digital Forensics program at the Waco campus but decided to change programs to something a little more familiar.

“Most of my family are mechanics,” Hooper said. “It’s a little closer to what the rest of the family is doing.”

While he enjoyed his time at TSTC in Waco, Hooper enjoys the smaller class sizes in Williamson County.

“Here, there are more one-on-one classes,” he said. “You get more time with the teachers.”

Industrial Maintenance instructor Lance Antilley said he has admired Hooper’s hard work.

“I have known Quinton for the past 16 months,” he said. “He is an outstanding student in all respects. Quinton has proven that through hard work, follow-through and teamwork, he can accomplish tasks in a courteous and timely manner.”

Currently interviewing for jobs, Hooper hopes to find a position where he can travel with work.

“I’d like traveling, going to different countries,” he said. “I hope to get into a company that I’m able to travel around and not stay in one place too long. I’d like to visit Europe.”

Hooper, a native of Maxwell, Texas, is one of 20 students eligible to walk the stage at the 6:30 p.m. ceremony on May 11 at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Hooper advises those considering TSTC not to bite off more than they can chew.

“Don’t get in over your head,” he said. “If you go into a class and you don’t know a lot about it, study more in that class.”

TSTC’s Chancellor, Mike Reeser, will speak at commencement, as well as Robb Misso, president and CEO of Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin.

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. The last day to register is Monday, Aug. 20, and classes begin Monday, Aug. 27.

For more information on TSTC, visit

Local Students Learn about Career Options at Taylor Trades Day

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College set up at the Taylor Trades Day Career Fair to meet local students and educate the public on the college’s programs.

The event was a collaboration between the Taylor Chamber of Commerce and the Taylor Economic Development Corporation. Area companies represented industries such as plumbing, automotive, energy services and machining.

Chamber President and CEO Tia Stone said they hoped the event would teach area students about technical education opportunities after high school.

“Our goal is to get local kids connected with TSTC and local businesses before they’re out of high school, so they can recruit them, so they can train them,” Stone said.

Texas State Technical College offers a variety of educational avenues in over 60 technical fields and has 10 campuses across the state. The college’s Williamson County campus in Hutto offers pathways in Culinary Arts, Cyber Security, HVAC, Industrial Electrical Systems, Industrial Maintenance, Precision Machining and Welding.

All seven programs available at TSTC’s campus in Hutto set up presentation tables to catch the attention of passing students.

“These guys are here today because they have some things that can get kids excited,” Stone said. “We’ve got to spark their imaginations. We’ve got to get them thinking that these are viable fields. Having people here who are excited about what they do and can show kids what they do really helps. The earlier we can do it, the more they have time to think about it.”

With many open jobs in the city, and the TEDC hoping to bring more companies into the area, Stone hopes that local businesses and TSTC can get Taylor residents trained to enter the skilled workforce.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is to be sure that we have a well-educated workforce and that we have a workforce that’s ready, to get businesses in here,” Stone said. “That’s our goal. It’s about filling the jobs now, but also filling the jobs that are coming. Taylor’s a working town.”

Regina Carlson, program manager at Taylor Economic Development Corporation, said the city currently has 200 jobs that need to be filled. Carlson said the TECD noticed the shortage as they were trying to fill industrial and manufacturing openings of their own.

“When we were trying to recruit, we realized that we had all these other people looking for these workers also,” Carlson said. “We have to have the workforce in order to recruit them here and to take care of them.”

Carlson said she wanted to make sure the local students knew that learning a trade is a viable option for them.

Stone echoed Carlson’s sentiments.

“That work’s not for everybody, but there are people that this is the right thing for,” she said. “These jobs that we’re highlighting​ ​– most of them have good benefits and most of them have good salaries.”

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC to Host First Commencement Ceremony in Hutto

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County will host its first commencement ceremony Friday, May 11. Twenty students representing six of the Hutto campus’ seven programs are eligible to graduate.

The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

“We are exceptionally proud to be hosting our first graduation ceremony on campus in Hutto this spring,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “As we’ve grown as a campus, we’ve worked to find ways to show our students how much they mean to us, and this is just another way for us to ensure we’re celebrating their accomplishments locally.”

Padilla says the ceremony honors the work of the students.

“We’re delighted to offer commencement locally so our students do not have to drive far to celebrate with their families,” he said. “In addition, our faculty and staff who work so hard to get our students to the finish line will now have the opportunity to see the fruit of their labor. It’s very positive for our campus culture.”

Padilla said he is excited to see the students begin working.

“Our students are exceptionally trained and very valuable in the workforce,” he said. “We’re proud that we will uphold the 50-plus-year tradition of TSTC providing a quality workforce to Texas.”

TSTC’s Chancellor, Mike Reeser, will speak at commencement, as well as Robb Misso, president and CEO of Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions in Austin.

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. The last day to register is Monday, Aug. 20, and classes begin Monday, Aug. 27.

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Welcomes New Recruiter

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County welcomed a new recruiter last month. Jessica Spencer joined the team mid-March.

Spencer grew up in Hutto and graduated from Hutto High School. After graduating she went straight to work.

“Before here I worked in an office — I love communicating with people,” she said. “Before that I was working with kids, and I loved to change people’s lives. That’s the main thing I enjoy — making an impact on someone’s life. Even if it isn’t the biggest impact, any kind is amazing.”

Before she began at TSTC, Spencer helped her boyfriend, David, enroll in the college’s welding program. She appreciates TSTC’s hands-on teaching.

“In high school I wasn’t the best student at staring at a book all day, so I love that aspect,” she said. “I love the opportunity that it’s given David to follow his dream, and I’m ready for TSTC to help me follow mine.”

She is excited to help influence students to reach their potential.

“I just did my first tour by myself, and it was pretty awesome,” she said. “Talking to people and changing people’s lives — it’s pretty cool.”

Melissa Zamora, TSTC’s coordinator of Student Recruitment, said she is excited that Jessica has joined the team and is happy that she brings a wealth of local knowledge with her.

“She is a Hutto native, has gone through the local educational system and graduated from Hutto High School,” Zamora said. “Residing now in Taylor, Jessica brings knowledge of the Hutto (school) system, as well as an insight into the Taylor district, that can help bridge the communities in order to help get the word out on our Williamson County location.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla said campus growth has brought a need to expand the team.

“Our recruitment capacity is growing by leaps and bounds in Williamson County,” he said. “We’ve seen an increased level of metric-driven strategy and enthusiasm for our mission. We welcome Jessica to our team and know she’ll play a critical role in the success of our campus. Great things are happening in Hutto.”

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit

TSTC Students Bused to Waco for Job Fair

(HUTTO) – More than a dozen Texas State Technical College students from the East Williamson County Higher Education Center made their way to TSTC in Waco Thursday, March 22, for the college’s annual Industry Job Fair.

Over 100 employers attended the event looking to meet, interview and possibly hire students from TSTC’s programs.

This was the first year that the college’s Williamson County campus had bused students to the job fair.

“For years now, it’s been an issue of transportation,” said TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla. “We’re trying to do what we can for our students.”

TSTC field development officer Michael Smith echoed those sentiments.

“I heard from several different instructors over the year that either they had to drive them up there or they (students) had to drive on their own, and how it would be neat if we had a bus,” Smith said. “I heard that over and over, and so I told Edgar, ‘I think we should do a bus this year,’ and we started researching the cost.”

Ellis & Salazar Automotive & Collision volunteered to sponsor the bus to help the students reach more opportunities.

“We’re working with Ellis & Salazar on a different project, so I mentioned it to them and said this would really help us,” Smith said.

Smith hopes the students had a positive experience at the event.

“They’re getting to meet with these companies and see the full range of services that TSTC offers,” he said. “It’s not just coming to class and going home. Career Services will be out there to help and answer resume questions, and all the other pieces that go into making sure they’re prepared for a job when they leave. Ultimately the goal is for them to leave with a job.”

Cyber Security student Jeremiah Southern was well prepared for the event.

“I had my resumes ready and researched the companies that were there to see what positions they had open and learn about their backgrounds,” Southern said. “Some of the companies that were there, even though they weren’t there specifically looking for what my particular field will be, it just takes asking. In IT and networking, there’s always something that could be available. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.”

Southern enjoyed the event overall and found some promising opportunities to follow up on.

“There were a lot of companies and a lot of students,” he said. “It was my first time going to a job fair, and I look forward to going to more. There were some great opportunities with the Civilian Air Force and Aerotek. Aerotek specifically said they need Cisco people, so that was really promising.”

TSTC will begin registering students for the summer and fall semesters on Monday, April 2. For more information on the college, visit

TSTC hosts annual counselor update

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College hosted its annual Dual Enrollment Counselor Update and Luncheon Wednesday, March 21.

High school counselors, administrators and teachers from the surrounding area attended the event, which was held at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center.

Megan McBride, dual enrollment advisor at TSTC, stressed the need for the updates.

“It’s important that we hold these events so we can educate the counselors about dual enrollment statewide, not just for TSTC, but from the TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the Higher Education Coordinating Board standpoints also,” she said.

Marina Wilcox, TSTC vice president of dual enrollment, spoke about the importance of two Texas House bills: one that impacts the way high school students choose courses with a career goal in mind, and another that requires high schools to improve student performance.

Wilcox also elaborated on some of the dual enrollment programs offered by the college.

“If you go to the Texas Workforce Commission website, there’s this really cool thing called Career Check,” Wilcox said in her presentation. “If you look at Industrial Maintenance with a Certificate I, you start out with a salary of $53,000. It’s a high-tech field that’s very skilled, and we offer pathways in that.”

TSTC representatives also covered new forms and changes in the admissions process and general business for the 2018-19 academic year.

“We’ve simplified our processes,” McBride said. “We’re also working more closely with admissions to streamline those processes. Most importantly, we’ve updated the dual enrollment website, and that’s a huge improvement for us.”

Earlier this year, TSTC announced new, fully online pathways in Cyber Security, Digital Media Design, and Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. Health Information Technology was the first program to go completely online.

“Pretty much all of the West Texas high schools that partner with us have opted for these programs since they’re so spread out,” McBride said. “With us, the majority are opting in for these online pathways as well.”

For more information on TSTC and its dual enrollment program, visit