Category Archives: All TSTC

Semien brings facilities management expertise to TSTC

(WACO, Texas) – Kevin Semien knew that the recent weather events experienced in Texas were not something to take chances with.

Semien is executive vice president of facilities and maintenance, as well as interim airport operations manager, at Texas State Technical College. 

During the weather crisis, he worked with TSTC’s physical plant, custodial and maintenance staff to identify power issues that affected TSTC’s campuses statewide. He was grateful that some staff members could get to their campuses to check on buildings.

Edgar Padilla, TSTC’s provost in Waco, said Semien was a key member of the Waco campus’ incident command team, which met several times daily to ensure the health and safety of all students.

“His calm, thoughtful and expert insight proved to be invaluable not only to the facilities and maintenance considerations, but also the student services, housing, public safety and communication pieces of the event,” Padilla said. “His commitment to TSTC will pay dividends for years to come.”

Semien sees the root of his work as having a desire to solve problems. He likes to get an idea of what is happening on each campus.

“You can’t know every single thing, but you can keep me in the loop for anything outside the norm,” Semien said.

Some of Semien’s goals at TSTC include creating standards to be used in support departments at all of TSTC’s campuses. He wants to encourage employees to be open to new ideas to make work easier. Semien wants to build relationships and foster a teamwork concept that easily allows directors and staff members to make suggestions and have productive discussions.

“He (Semien) has great ideas,” said Arturo Aguilar, TSTC’s custodial supervisor in Waco. “Overall, he is a great leader and also great as a person to work with.”

Terry Pritchett, the TSTC physical plant’s senior executive director in Waco, said Semien brings a high measure of professionalism to his position.

“He is down-to-earth and easy to talk with, whether in a work or personal matter,” Pritchett said. “He is understanding and caring of the TSTC mission and makes his decisions based on our organizational goals. I look forward to many years of service under his leadership.”

Semien said his advice for people interested in the facilities and maintenance field is to be ready to learn and work well with other people.

“The opportunity is there if they jump into it early,” he said.

Semien’s previous work has been in the casino and health care industries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“All of the experiences have rolled into the opportunity here,” Semien said.

Semien is a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont.

During the month of February, TSTC wants to honor the Black students, staff and faculty who make TSTC a special place to learn.

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TSTC campus police at the helm during unprecedented weather

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – When Texas State Technical College buckled down to prepare for the unprecedented winter storm that recently made its way across the state, TSTC campus police immediately answered the call to ensure that both the campus and its residents were safe.

The TSTC Incident Command Post (ICP) team began preparations for the storm well in advance of the storm and developed an action plan to prepare for any situations that arose because of the weather.

TSTC Chief of Police Eduardo Patino is not only proud of his team for being responsive during critical moments such as this, but also for their dedication to service at TSTC.

“The safety and well-being of all members within our community are very important to us,” he said. “Our preparation for all incidents is a year-round process.”

Through the duration of the power outages and icy roads, Patino’s team worked diligently to ensure that situations on campus were handled as smoothly as possible, while also dealing with no electricity or water at their own homes.

“My team was on-site, maintaining the safety and security of the campus while being responsive to our housing residents,” Patino said. “The officers that make up the team are dependable and hold themselves to higher standards. Accountability is one of our core values, which all members in my team truly live up to.”

He said that this work ethic makes the ultimate difference.

“When individuals adopt and live up to such values, it fosters a great working environment and is essential in building a cohesive team. Being responsive to all calls while maintaining visibility is part of our daily police operations.”

TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez appreciates the team’s efforts, which included one officer staying overnight to keep a close eye on the students and their needs on campus. .

“The officer stayed for safety purposes,” she said. “To say our police department is always prepared would be an understatement. They are the lead and front line in every emergency situation. They understand that they are the exemption to the rule of campus closures.”

Hernandez added that the campus is grateful for what the police department, and other TSTC departments, contribute to the college.

“The team we have built in Harlingen is amazing,” she said. “Seeing our staff and faculty rise to the occasion is what makes us an efficient team. From facilities to information technology to the police department, we work with one goal: the safety and well-being of our TSTC family and our TSTC home.”

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Digital Media Design at TSTC prepares students with hands-on learning

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computers have changed the way we look at different forms of media. Because the internet never sleeps, neither do the opportunities to learn about the field.

Digital Media Design at Texas State Technical College offers a hands-on approach to this evolving area of study while also ensuring that students understand the tools of the trade.

Instructor Garnet Gaither discussed the technical side of the program, as well as what students can expect to learn during their time at TSTC.

What will students gain from the Digital Media Design program at TSTC?

Students can expect to learn how to create graphic design-based media, as well as how to design abstractly and traditionally. They will also learn what makes good and bad design, and designing for visual electronic media and printed media, among other things.

What makes studying this program at TSTC unique?

 Our students have hands-on access to a computer, photography and videography equipment, and even 3D printing. They will also learn firsthand with cameras, scanners, plotters, and a host of other graphically related equipment.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at TSTC?

I enjoy seeing my students effectively put to use the things they have learned and be creative with what they’ve learned. It is also enjoyable when I hear from them about their careers many years later.

What advice would you give to a student who is interested in learning Digital Media Design?

Be sure you understand what the field is all about, and have dedication.

February is Career and Technical Education Month. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to


TSTC Automotive Technology student learning more than he expected

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – Joseph Fredericks, of Ballinger, admits that he is learning more than he expected in Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology program.

Fredericks, a second-semester student, is already setting his sights on furthering his education at TSTC. He is currently studying for a basic automotive certificate and plans to earn an automotive technician certificate.

“After I earn my automotive technician certification, my ultimate goal is to work for an engine building company,” Fredericks said. “Until I am able to do that, I want to find a good place to work that pays well. I know I am going to have to work my way up the ladder.”

Fredericks said his mechanical experience was somewhat limited before he enrolled at TSTC.

“I spent more than two years working in a shop before I enrolled in school,” he said. “I wanted to learn more.”

He has been learning more by working with his fellow students in the shop.

“I like how things are set up here, and we are able to work with other people,” Fredericks said. “We are able to help each other, and I really like to help people out.”

Instructor Gerod Strother sees that trait daily in Fredericks.

“He is willing to help anyone in the class. He takes a lot of pride in his work,” he said.

Fredericks said Strother teaches students in a way that will help them in professional shops.

“We are covering everything that is important to know when we are in the shop. That has been helpful for all of us,” he said. “The hands-on approach is the best way to teach a program like this. Shop time is the best time for me.”

Fredericks said TSTC recruiters drew him to the program.

“The recruiters came to our high school in San Angelo and told us about the program. I knew I needed to look into this as a career,” he said.

When he is not in class, Fredericks said he likes to show his family what he has learned.

“My dad likes it when I come home and do some work on his truck, especially since it is free,” he said. “We also have a tractor that is always breaking down, and I am able to fix it with the little bit of experience I have been able to learn so far.”

However, tractors and cars are not all he wants to work on when he graduates.

“I hope to build the engines for drag racing,” he said. “I have always enjoyed watching drag racing and would like to build engines for those cars.”

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TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology students gain experience during winter weather

(WACO, Texas) – At least 50 students in Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program signed up to work as wire-down guards and drivers for damage evaluators during the state’s recent winter weather event.

The students were on-call contract workers for Irving-based J&S Inspections, a utility contracting firm. Robert Mitchell, lead instructor in TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Waco, became familiar with the firm’s work while working at Oncor.

Mitchell said he considers this work a paid field trip for students, giving them work experience that will prove valuable as they pursue their careers in the electrical lineworker industry. He said many of the students made at least $3,000 for their work during the winter storm.

Mitchell volunteered to serve as a damage estimator for 13 days, while TSTC Electrical Lineworker Technology student Conner Woodall of Hubbard was his driver. The two worked from the Austin suburbs to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to East Texas. Mitchell said the Lufkin and Nacogdoches areas were heavily impacted.

“It was the tree situation,” Mitchell said. “There were big pine trees hanging over the lines. There were bad ice storms where limbs accumulated a half inch of ice. The limbs fell and broke lines and broke poles on a big scale.”

Woodall said he saw lots of downed power lines and worked with Mitchell to prepare job tickets to get damaged circulators and insulators fixed. He said the weather was the coldest he had ever endured.

“We have to get out and know what to look for,” Woodall said. “If you cannot get to it by truck, you are going to have to walk the line.”

He said it is the first time he has done work like this in the field. He said the money he earned will go toward college costs and to buy more equipment.

“It actually benefited me being able to see a lot and see real life,” Woodall said. “I saw what the crew would have to do to come out and do the work.”

Mitchell said TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program is called on to provide assistance during major weather events one or two times a year.

TSTC offers the Electrical Lineworker Technology program at the Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses. TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program is a Money-Back Guarantee program. Students who sign up for the program with a TSTC Career Services representative in their first semester of study can take part in focused workshops as they work their way to an associate degree. If students do not get a job in their degree field within six months of graduating, TSTC will refund their tuition.

Texas had more than 10,000 electrical power line installers and repairers in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those workers made an annual mean wage of $58,570.

Nationally, more than 116,000 electrical power line installers and repairers will be needed by 2029, according to the federal agency. This is due to retirements, workers advancing into management positions, new housing and commercial construction, and upkeep of the interstate power grid.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 


TSTC Process Operations Technology students utilize virtual experiences

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Process Operations Technology program in Marshall are getting the most out of some new virtual reality software.

The program’s faculty members and students began using PetroSkills Simulation Solutions’ Distillation VR software last summer. The software can be used in classes focusing on process instrumentation, troubleshooting and process technology.

The software simulates what process operators encounter in control rooms at refineries and petrochemical plants. Randy Clark, an instructor in TSTC’s Process Operations Technology program, said the software is the same kind used at Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview and Pergan in Marshall.

Clark said instructors can set up real-life situations for students to solve, such as failing pumps or equipment fires. Alerts are given through alarms sounding in the software. The students must determine how to fix the problems.

“We can make it like every pump can shut down,” Clark said.

Students can access the cloud-based virtual software through TSTC’s Moodle platform, whether on campus or at their residence. 

Nick George, of Canton, is scheduled to graduate this semester from the Process Operations Technology program. He learned about the program from his aunt, who took a campus tour with students from the Wills Point Independent School District. At that time, George said he did not know what the process operations field was.

George applied to TSTC toward the end of his senior year.

“I jumped at the opportunity to do something,” George said.

George said he enjoys the program’s hands-on labs, some of which include using the simulator software. During one recent virtual scenario, he had to deal with an overflowing condensate tank.

“This is fun,” he said. “Troubleshooting is fun for me. I like to solve and fix things.”

George has been applying at internships and feels good about his prospects. He wants to stay in East Texas to work.

Janna Jones, of Marshall, is scheduled to graduate this semester from the Process Operations Technology program. She said she chose the associate degree program because of the earning potential upon graduation and seeing what her sister, a graduate of the program, has done while working at a company in Kansas.

Jones used the simulation software for the first time during the fall semester. She said it is user-friendly because there are downloadable instructions on how to maneuver through situations. The software uses color coding to indicate problem areas.

“I’m glad it is here and available,” Jones said. 

Jones added that she is optimistic about her job prospects when she graduates.

The Marshall Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO) authorized the purchase of the virtual reality software in February 2020 and donated it to TSTC.

“We would like for those individuals to stay in Marshall and work here,” Rush Harris, executive director of MEDCO, said in July 2020. “It increases our percentage of educated folks in town and increases our annual median and mean income. We are trying to keep the pipeline of employees going to some of these larger companies that pay well.”

TSTC’s Process Operations Technology program teaches students about blueprint reading, industrial processes, process technology, safety and other topics.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Amos enjoys challenges of TSTC’s Welding Technology

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Comanche’s Caden Amos likes the challenges he faces in Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology classes.

He is working toward a certificate and looking forward to the day when he has a job. With instructor Daniel Aguirre providing his own work experience, Amos knows he will be well prepared when he graduates.

“Daniel likes to throw a curve at us,” Amos said. “He knows when he does that, we will be ready to take on anything.”

Amos started the program with no welding experience, but Aguirre has seen his progression over the last two semesters.

“He came in here with zero experience and has picked up things really well,” Aguirre said. “He is actually understanding what goes into making a good welder.”

Amos said he had trouble learning the welding fundamentals, but credits Aguirre and other students for helping him.

“I would take my project to Daniel, and he would say I needed to toy with it,” Amos said. “Some of the guys in here have welding experience, and I know I can go to them to see how things can be improved.”

Aguirre said Amos’ work ethic will lead him to a career.

“He puts great effort into his work. He knows that if it is not how I like it, he will keep working to make it right,” he said.

Amos said he does not have any regrets about choosing TSTC and a welding career.

“I was thinking about becoming a mechanical engineer, but took a shot in the dark and tried welding,” he said. “I knew TSTC would prepare me for a career.”

Once he is working, Amos knows the environment will be different.

“I want to see how everything I am learning relates to the real world and not in a shop setting,” he said. “I know when I am working I am going to have to learn on the fly. Daniel is preparing me for that.”

Welding runs in Amos’ family, and he hopes to work in the West Texas oil fields like his brother.

“I hope to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” he said.

Amos said more people should consider a career in welding and taking classes at TSTC.

“The staff here is great. If you fall behind, everyone will help you get caught up,” he said. “Everyone here wants you to succeed.”

Welding Technology is available at each of TSTC’s 10 campuses.

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TSTC Automotive Technology program adapts to teaching during pandemic

(WACO, Texas) – Automotive Technology students at Texas State Technical College continue to gain insight into what their careers can look like upon graduation.

“It’s a good time in the automotive industry because of how everything is advancing,” said George Williams, lead instructor in TSTC’s Automotive Technology program in Waco.

The program’s students and faculty have relied more on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since spring 2020, TSTC’s technical programs have been taught either exclusively online or in a hybrid format that combines online lectures with on-campus labs.

TSTC students, faculty and staff continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in wearing masks, not gathering in groups and sanitizing hands and work areas. All of this is being done to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Automotive Department, said the program is using a new e-learning and e-simulator learning management system called Electude. He said students are becoming prepared for what they will see in training at dealerships.

“They need to have a good understanding of the material and theory of the given learning activities, expected outcomes, and objectives before attempting the hands-on skills practicals,” Cervantez said.

Jonathan Tooke, of Teague, is pursuing the Automotive Technology – Chrysler Specialization certificate. He said his cell phone comes in handy to take photos in class of brakes, engines and transmissions before he dismantles them. He is getting experience working at a dealership in Fairfield doing oil changes and minor repair work.

Devontae Bible, of Waco, is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technology – Chrysler Specialization certificate. Bible, a graduate of Waco High School, said he chose to pursue Automotive Technology because of his appreciation for fast cars.

“I heard TSTC was the best of the best,” he said.

Bible is getting internship experience while working at a Waco dealership doing oil changes and working with technicians on minor problems.

“I like the job,” he said. “The environment is cool. It’s good to be around.”

The Automotive Technology program will adapt to another new way of teaching starting in fall 2022. Williams said the program will shift to a performance-based education model. 

Performance-based education allows students to have flexibility with their schedules as they master set competencies. Students can build on existing knowledge and may have the opportunity to graduate earlier than planned. Students will still have semesters, but the number of classes will vary.

“The students will get more one-on-one time with instructors,” Williams said. “The student will schedule lab times with an instructor.”

There were more than 51,000 automotive service mechanics and technicians as of May 2019 in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The workers made an annual mean wage that was more than $45,000.

Automotive service mechanics and technicians will have to adapt in the next decade to the development of electric vehicles, and cameras and sensors being added to cars and trucks.

February is Career and Technical Education Month. During this month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support its mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” every day. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to 

TSTC Cybersecurity program recognized by national agencies

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Cybersecurity program prepares students for a life of digital safety and protection.

Not only does the curriculum equip students for a vastly growing occupation, but the program at the Harlingen campus is also recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as one of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense for two-year education.

Some of the qualifications that an institution needs to achieve for the recognition are establishing standards for cybersecurity curriculum and academic excellence, competency development among students and faculty, and essential engagement in solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education, among others.

Cybersecurity instructor Cesar Ibarra said that TSTC’s standards for the program live up to these expectations.

“Our cybersecurity program is recognized for having the necessary skill set for current cybersecurity job openings and emerging technology environments,” he said.

According to, there are currently just over 47,000 cybersecurity jobs in Texas alone, and the demand is not slowing down.

“There is a current and projected high demand for cybersecurity professionals,” said Norma Colunga-Hernandez, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Cybersecurity department.

The recognition is not permanent, and the program will need to reapply in 2023. Even so, Ibarra said that the field of cybersecurity is here to stay.

“Cybersecurity is not just important, it’s become a way of life,” he said. “We are already living in a digital world and have a digital life.”

TSTC recently introduced a fast-paced Workforce Training cybersecurity boot camp that will feature eight industry-grade foundational courses to equip students with the knowledge they need to get them into the world of cybersecurity. To learn more, visit

February is Career and Technical Education Month.During this month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support our mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” every day. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to


Rear view of concentrated thoughtful male programmer viewing computer language code on computer monitor while working on new program in modern office

TSTC Culinary Arts to host virtual information sessions for prospective students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Prospective students who have dreams of whipping up meals on a stove and baking decadent pastries in the oven can be one step closer to making them a reality when the Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts program hosts a series of virtual information sessions from Feb. 26 through April.

The sessions will be hosted online and give participants an opportunity to learn about the program from the comfort of their own home.

Culinary Arts instructor Omar Duran said that it is a great opportunity for prospective, current and nontraditional students.

“Any individual that wants to learn to be a chef is welcome to the sessions,” he said. “They can participate and have their questions answered by an instructor in the program so they can get important information straight from the instructors who teach the courses.”

Several key points of interest will be discussed during the sessions, including cost of the program and career opportunities, which will give prospective students insight into career paths in the food industry.

“Information regarding both the associate degree and the certificate will be discussed,” Duran said. “The presentation not only provides information about Culinary Arts, but also about what TSTC offers, including admission requirements, food certifications, job fairs and much more.”

Duran added that attendees will also be given a chance to ask any questions or concerns they may have about taking the first step into the Culinary Arts program.

“Potential students can ask any questions they have during the information session,” he said. “Our team will be ready to assist with questions about financial aid, career services and academic courses.”

Instructor Emma Creps wants students to leave the sessions not only with an understanding of the program, but also with excitement as they choose a career goal.

“Selecting a career path can be a difficult choice for some people, and our objective is to make people feel confident when choosing culinary arts as their career choice,” she said. “We also provide support during the application process so students will not feel lost as they transition from high school to college, switch careers, or have had a delay in returning to school.”

Creps said that motivation and an interest in culinary arts are the keys to succeeding in the program.

“The most important attributes a student can have to succeed in the program are the willingness to learn and time management skills,” she said. “And of course, as with any career, it starts with passion. When a student has passion, the idea of learning the world of cooking is exciting to them, and they are eager to study in order to build their knowledge and skills.”

The first virtual session is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 26, from 5 to 6 p.m. Additional sessions are scheduled for every second and fourth Friday of the month through April 23. Those interested in attending should contact Omar Duran at

February is Career and Technical Education Month.During this month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support our mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” everyday. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to