Category Archives: Williamson County

TSTC Looks to Expand Team

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College is looking to expand its Williamson County team and hiring for several instructor positions.

Precision Machining, Industrial Maintenance, HVAC, Welding and Culinary Arts are some of the areas in which the school is looking to fill vacancies.

Campus Director Darren Block said teaching offers a chance to make an impact in the community. It also lets one do one’s part to fill the “skills gap,” a shortage of middle-skilled workers to fill open positions in the U.S.

“By instructing the next generation of blue-collar workers in this country, we are building the future and providing a path to success,” Block said. “You often hear ‘it’s a dying art’ or the ‘skills gap.’ We are filling that skills gap, or handing down that skill or ‘art’ to the next generation.”

Block said teaching also offers a sense of pride.

“Teaching someone to do what you do is fulfilling and rewarding,” he said. “When I get a call from an employer saying our student is working out great and asking if we have any more to send them, that is what it is all about.”

TSTC Provost Edgar Padilla hopes those interested in strengthening the workforce of Texas will apply.

“TSTC is a dynamic institution, working hard to fulfill a unique mission among colleges and universities in Texas,” Padilla said. “Our employees are the heartbeat of our vision for placing more Texans into great careers. We are seeking employees who are eager to innovate, lead and be part of changing the landscape of higher education in Texas.”

TSTC has 10 campuses statewide in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County. Each campus provides a unique atmosphere, with programs chosen to suit each area’s employment needs.

“We are situated in one of the top five fastest-growing cities in Texas,” Padilla said. “The business climate in the Austin metropolitan area, coupled with our unique culture, makes this the perfect place to work and make an impact for our future students and graduates.”

TSTC offers benefits such as retirement, medical, dental, vision and more.

For information on open positions at TSTC, visit tstc.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Visionary Murray Watson Jr. Remembered for Service

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College mourned Wednesday the loss of former Texas legislator Murray Watson Jr., who filed legislation in 1969 to separate what was an arm of the Texas A&M University system into a stand-alone institution for technical education that would become TSTC.

“If there was ever a Mr. TSTC, it would be Murray Watson,” said Elton Stuckly Jr., TSTC’s executive vice chancellor and chief strategic relations officer.

Watson died Tuesday at age 86.

Watson was a state senator when he filed legislation to make the James Connally Technical Institute independent and rename it Texas State Technical Institute (now TSTC). Gov. Preston Smith signed the bill’s final version in May 1969 in Austin.

At TSTC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in April 2015 in Austin, Watson was honored with a Founder’s Award.

Watson’s name is on TSTC’s student recreation center on Campus Drive. That factored into his wife, Greta, having been honored with the nearby Culinary Arts building being named for her.

“Murray and I walked out of the old (TSTC) system’s building, and we were about a million dollars short to build the new Culinary Arts Center,” Stuckly said. “I said, ‘Mr. Watson, I want you to think about something. Your name is on that (the recreation center) building. Wouldn’t it be nice for it (the new building) to be called the Greta W. Watson Culinary Arts Center? If you give us a million dollars, you could look at each other forever.’ It wasn’t a couple of weeks later that he called and said he was going to do it.”

Stuckly said Watson was a mentor who would give him advice.

“He always stayed in contact with me by email,” Stuckly said. “He was always looking for ways and ideas of how to make TSTC a better college.”

Stuckly said he and Watson always found much to talk about.

“He grew up in Mart, and I was raised in Penelope,” Stuckly said. “He always wanted to ask about TSTC first, then talk about farm cattle and his feed store and what I used to do on the farm. He said, ‘Elton, there aren’t many people that I can talk to who relate to those times.’”

Verna Lastrapes, a TSTC college outreach specialist, grew up knowing the Watson family in Mart. She said Watson’s family owned the local feed store, which she would visit as a four-year-old with her father at least twice a week to catch up with residents.

“Murray Jr. was a senior at Mart High School then,” she said. “I knew him well because he and my sister, Barbara, were friends.”

Pete Rowe, TSTC’s vice president for institutional development, hauled hay for Watson when he was a teenager in Mart. Rowe also graduated from Mart High School.

“It’s a personal loss for me because I loved him so much,” Rowe said. “He was a great mentor to me. He and Mrs. Watson have always been very kind to me and have done a lot for me in my life and career.”

Lastrapes said residents in Mart thought Watson would be president one day.

“He did not become president, but he did become our state representative and our state senator,” she said. “As a teenager, I remember helping campaign for him. Just about everyone in Mart campaigned for him.”

The feed store factored into Watson’s law career.

“When he lost the campaign for U.S. representative and went into private law practice, he had his office in Waco and one in Mart above the feed store,” Lastrapes said. “For years that is where he conducted all legal transactions with my daddy and other rural area farmers and businessmen.”

Rowe said Watson raised cattle andis sure he must have encountered on his ranch some of what TSTC teaches today.

“Murray was a highly intelligent person,” he said. “He was way ahead of the curve in the education field. He really studied education. He knew what to do.”

Lastrapes worked several years at the Brazos Higher Education Service Corp. Inc., which financed student loans. Watson was one of the organization’s founders.

“He had his own time schedule,” she said. “We began to say, ‘The starting time is when Murray Watson gets there.’ That was for everything!”

John K. Hatchel, chair of the TSTC Board of Regents, worked with Watson as a member of the Brazos Higher Education Service’s board of directors.

“He was very quiet, but he was consistent,” Hatchel said. “If there was a person who needed something or help, he was the first in line to do his part. He did it not expecting any accolades or thank-you’s. He just did it as a person.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

 

TSTC Recruiters Bring Enthusiasm to New Roles

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College recently welcomed two new student recruiters at its Williamson County campus.

MaKenna Honea, of Georgetown, and Brittany Hoke, of Pflugerville, joined the TSTC team at the beginning of June.

Before joining TSTC, Honea worked in the food and bar industry for four years.

“I wanted to find somewhere to grow professionally and start a career,” she said. “I wanted to work somewhere I’d be held to higher standards and have more responsibilities.”

She relishes her new role as a recruiter.

“It’s challenging, but it’s rewarding,” Honea said. “Every day is something different, which is fun.”

While Honea enjoys the team she works with, she is happy to be helping local students map out their futures.

“It’s cool that I get to be somebody I wish I would’ve met in high school, reaching out to kids,” she said. “If I would have had a recruiter, things probably could have been really different for me.”

Hoke enjoys that aspect of the job as well.

“I like getting to help students figure things out that I didn’t figure out when I was younger,” she said. “Getting to help introduce kids to TSTC is pretty awesome because it is such an affordable education.”

Before coming to TSTC, Hoke worked with the Texas secretary of state’s office as an employee of Registered Agent Solutions Inc. and was also a child support officer. She was excited to take on her role at TSTC.

“It was a completely different opportunity than anything else I had seen,” she said. “The pride of the staff is really eye-opening.”

Both women stand behind the school’s mission — to place more Texans in great-paying jobs.

“We are all about students,” Honea said. “We’re not just about numbers; we’re about the actual people.”

Hoke shared those sentiments.

“TSTC is something I can stand behind,” Hoke said. “It’s a good message, a good education and a good value.”

Coordinator of Recruitment Melissa Morman said she is happy to have finally completed her team of recruiters.

“Having Brittany and MaKenna join the student recruitment team has really been the fuel this department has needed to have more of a presence in the surrounding areas,” she said. “With Pflugerville and Georgetown natives on board, it gives us the insight to share our mission of placing more Texans along with spreading the TSTC message.”

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.edu/about/employment.

TSTC Registration Rally Set for July 24 in Williamson County

(HUTTO) – Texas State Technical College in Williamson County will host a Registration Rally on Tuesday, July 24 – all part of an effort to make the registration process as easy as possible for students starting classes in the fall semester.

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 Rally 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 Morman said the June event was great, and she hopes next week’s event will bring in new students.

“The response from the community during our registration rally in June was overwhelming, and we can feel the growth happening with each registered student,” Morman said. “We look forward to welcoming even more students next Tuesday, and we invite everyone in the community to come tour our facility and sign up for classes.”

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.edu/rally.

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.edu.

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.edu/rally.

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.edu/about/employment.

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.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

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.edu.