Category Archives: All TSTC

TSTC student’s love of technology guides him to cybersecurity

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Zachary Powers is about to receive his Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity and has some sound advice for those about to embark on their college journey: Never give up.

The Sugar Land native said that his love of technology is what pointed him in the direction of TSTC’s hands-on program.

Why did you decide to attend TSTC?

I knew TSTC would provide me with the hands-on learning experience that is going to allow me to succeed.

Who was your biggest support system during your time in college?

My instructor, Mr. (Timothy) Janssen. There were times that I wanted to quit, but he would challenge me, and this led to me excelling in my coursework.

Do you have a favorite TSTC memory?

In the Personal Computer Hardware course, we would have computer teardown and repair build-offs, which challenged us to learn about each other and taught us to work together.

What advice would you give to somebody who is about to start their first semester in college?

No matter what life throws at you, never give up. Use all the resources available, do not be afraid to ask your instructors for help, and create study groups.

What will you do after you graduate from TSTC?

I hope to get a career started in cybersecurity. My goal is to eventually be employed by the National Weather Service as a meteorologist or a researcher to help improve early warning systems to prevent loss of life.

To learn more about TSTC, visit




Second Cohort of Tesla START Program Graduates at TSTC

(WACO, Texas) – The Tesla START training program at Texas State Technical College held a recognition ceremony earlier this fall for its second cohort of graduates.

The TSTC students began the 12-week training program in August to learn the skills necessary to become advanced electric vehicle technicians at Tesla. As a Tesla-paid hourly internship, the students developed technical expertise and earned certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning. 

All students who successfully complete the nationwide program are eligible to work at a Tesla Service Center in the United States. 

The program’s classes are held at the Kultgen Automotive Center on the Waco campus. 

“We are excited and proud of the second graduating class from the Tesla START program in Waco,” said Adam Barber, TSTC’s interim executive director of Workforce Training in Waco. “A couple of students are previous TSTC graduates, so that’s especially cool. We look forward to the next class and continued partnership with Tesla.”

Graduates from the program’s second cohort are Matthew Abel of Waco, Corey Broussard of Virginia, Alexander Burkman of Frisco, Jonathan Butler of McGregor, James Dawe of Grand Junction, Colorado; Eder Estrada of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pablo Hernandez of Fort Worth and Mohannad Naffaa of Waco. 

“These guys worked very hard, and they all got placed in good locations,” said Mark Tosto, a Tesla START program instructor. 

Waco’s second cohort started work at their assigned service centers in November. Butler is working at Air Impressions in Waco as an aircraft mechanic. 

Dawe split time growing up between Great Britain and Colorado and had an early interest in the environment and renewable energy. He learned about the Tesla program from YouTube. 

Some of Dawe’s favorite times in the program were shadowing workers on Fridays at Tesla’s service center in Dallas, and he and Abel working five days in Alabama in September during a company battery-charging project. Dawe said they helped charge batteries on hundreds of Tesla vehicles ready to be shipped to stores nationwide. Dawe and Abel also traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to deliver batteries.

“It was awesome to be thrown in the fire,” Dawe said.

Dawe began working in early November at Tesla’s service center in Littleton, Colorado.

Naffaa was born in Lebanon and came to Texas in 2014. He enrolled in 2018 at TSTC’s Waco campus to study Automotive Technology. He graduated with the program’s associate degree earlier this year.

Naffaa said his time at TSTC combines his passion for cars and his family’s interest in his study of engineering. 

“I learned a lot here,” he said. “I learned how the car works and about the functional parts. I also learned about the suspensions.”

Naffaa started work in early November at Tesla’s service center in Marietta, Georgia.

“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’s a big step.”

There are currently seven other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. The program launched in 2018 and has had more than 300 graduates to date.

The program’s 2021 cohorts in Waco are full, but interviews for 2022 cohorts are scheduled to be held later this year, Tosto said.

For more information on Tesla START, go to 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC student wants to continue family tradition in aviation

(ABILENE, Texas) – Coltton Johnson hopes his journey will continue a family tradition.

The first-year Aircraft Powerplant Technology student at Texas State Technical College is following in his father’s footsteps. The Idaho native arrived in Abilene after his father retired from the U.S. Air Force and began working for Eagle Aviation Services.

“I have been around planes my whole life,” he said. “I wanted to make working in aviation a family tradition.”

While Johnson has not yet started working on the aircraft at the TSTC hangar, he knows that will be the best part of the program.

“I like the hands-on aspect of this program. I appreciate what we are learning right now because it keeps us on track,” he said. “All of the material is laid out really well.”

Johnson said he is working to obtain his associate degree and knows his father is always willing to help. His Air Force and Eagle experience is helping Johnson during lectures.

“He has worked with me a little. But he wants me to learn what I need to know,” Johnson said. “I sometimes ask him general questions, but always have to make sure I know the answers.”

One piece of advice that Johnson’s father gave him when he started still resonates with him.

“My dad told me that if there is anything that is considered Federal Aviation Administration material in the course, I need to study it and know it,” he said. “I make sure that I know it.”

Being around aircraft before he started classes paid off early for him.

“I felt well prepared for the start of school,” Johnson said. “I am going to study everything to make sure I succeed.”

Johnson said being able to walk into the hangar and see students working on planes is helping him work harder.

“My choice to attend TSTC is better than I could have ever expected,” he said. “I am glad I chose to follow my dad in the aviation field.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC alumna works to lead people down right road

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Leigh Anne Folger is using her life experience as a road map to help others.

Folger, a 2017 graduate of Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program, is a counselor at Addiction Behavioral Services. Prior to joining the staff, she worked as a counselor at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Thomas R. Havins Unit in Brownwood.

“I know I am not responsible for my clients’ decisions. I can’t take credit for their success or get down if they fail,” she said. “All I do is provide them with the information that can help them. I hold up the road map to a successful life. They have to want to drive the car.”

Folger said she got her life on track after being released from prison. She knew a career in the medical field would not be possible, but another option was available.

“I made a lot of bad decisions in my life, and they finally caught up to me,” she said. “I knew that I would never have a career in the field I once dreamed of, which was the medical field. So I thought, ‘Why don’t I become a counselor?’ I knew I could help people by using my life experiences.”

Folger reconnected with a friend and classmate at Addiction Behavioral Services, Laura Weaver. Folger credits Weaver for steering her to TSTC’s counseling program.

“I had these unrealistic fears of failing. I was kind of hesitant to enroll,” she said. “Laura said she would meet me at the school.”

Once Folger walked onto the Brownwood campus, she felt at ease.

“Everyone had a smile on their face. No one was bothered by all of the questions I had,” she said. “Everyone at TSTC made me excited about going back to school.”

After graduation, Folger began working for the Havins Unit. It served as a reminder for her to move forward.

“I love what I do. Working at the unit felt like a reminder that I did not want to go back,” she said.

She also knew which inmates needed the most help.

“About 60 percent of the guys had already made up their mind that they did not want to return to prison,” Folger said. “It was those individuals on the fence that I targeted. I wanted to persuade them that the grass was greener on the outside.”

When the chance came to work for Addiction Behavioral Services, she did not hesitate.

“Looking back, I enjoyed my time at the unit. I just wanted to make a change,” Folger said. “Being able to work with Laura was also amazing. Everything has come full circle for me.”

Folger continues to praise TSTC and the staff for helping her find her way.

“Had it not been for TSTC, there is no telling where I would be right now,” she said. “TSTC was amazing. (Instructor) Elizabeth Jones is amazing. She has more insight than anyone in this field. I even recommend TSTC to people looking to restart their life. It worked for me.”

For more information about TSTC, visit

Sanders intrigued by TSTC’s ‘essential man’s course’

(ABILENE, Texas) – Robert Sanders, of College Station, said Industrial Systems is the “essential man’s course” at Texas State Technical College.

Sanders is always smiling when he walks into the Industrial Technology Center for classes. He is studying for an associate degree, saying his motivation is to be the best at whatever he does. 

One thing he does like to do is work on things.

“I come from an old-fashioned background,” he said. “I am a gearhead at heart. I like to prep and fix things. This course is perfect for me because it is definitely the essential man’s course.”

Being one of the older students has not deterred him from helping others.

“There is a great group of guys in this class,” Sanders said. “There are some brilliant minds in this class.”

He is impressed with the creativity of the younger students and how well the instructors present lessons and lab sessions.

“With the younger guys in the class, the mix of their wisdom is great,” Sanders said. “This is a program that is perfect for any age group.”

There is also a competitive nature in class, but everyone in the class wants to succeed.

“We help each other a lot. I am highly competitive, but I am going to do what I can to help others,” he said.

While the students are working, one thing is certain.

“Safety is No. 1 for us,” Sanders said. “We are aware of what is going on around us, and if someone does something that is not safe, we stop what we are doing.”

The father of two sons, Sanders has advice for parents planning to go to college.

“Have a good support system at home,” he said. “I knew it would be hard to go to school and work, but I am so glad I have a good support system in place.”

Sanders is no stranger to TSTC. He began taking Computer Networking classes in 2004 but quickly learned it was not for him. 

“I realized real quick that it was not for me. I stopped before I finished and went into the Air Force,” he said. “But I always knew that I would come back.”

He is back and enrolled in a program that he has a passion for, and he lets everyone know.

“This is an amazing school,” he said. “There is no comparison.”

TSTC trains Industrial Systems students to be machinery experts who can keep facilities running safely and efficiently. Students learn a broad range of skills needed to install, operate, test, repair and maintain a variety of mechanical equipment. They learn industry-standard safety procedures, mechanical and electrical skills, diagnostic techniques, and how to work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers, and programmable logic control systems.

For more information about TSTC, visit

TSTC Solar Energy Technology Program Ready to Meet Job Needs

(WACO, Texas) – As the old saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” 

That can also include solar farms.

Invenergy, a worldwide private sustainable energy company, plans to build what it claims will be the largest solar farm in the United States. The 1,310-megawatt Samson Solar Energy Center facility will be located in Northeast Texas and be fully operational in 2023. The facility is projected to produce energy for 300,000 homes, according to company information.

“Right now, solar is booming,” said Hugh Whitted, chair of Texas State Technical College’s Solar Energy and Electrical Construction department. “It has rebounded from the tariffs that were put into place a few years back. We have a lot of systems going in and the people that need the work done.”

The Samson Solar Energy Center project is expected to generate 600 construction jobs and 12 permanent jobs upon completion, according to information from Invenergy.

Texas’ solar industry employs more than 13,000 workers, according to the Texas Solar Power Association.

Jobs for solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow to more than 18,000 up to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth is attributed to an increased demand for usage and upkeep, and state and local governments offering incentives.

“I am getting emails usually at least a couple of times a month from solar and electrical contractors all over the place, most of them in and around the Metroplex or Austin to San Antonio,” said Whitted, who is based at TSTC’s Waco campus.

Holtek Fireplace and Solar in Waco began doing local solar work in 1999, said Holt Kelly, the company’s owner. The company does designs and sales, while an electrical contractor performs installations.

“Here in this market, it is spotty,” Kelly said. “We are a small company. I am picking and choosing.”

Kelly said businesses in the Waco area are not yet quite in tune with installing solar panels. But, he said homeowners have been using solar panels for years.

“Solar farms are great, but in my opinion solar is best used most efficiently at the point of use of power, the buildings where the energy is being used,” Kelly said.

Training for solar work means going into a career in the electrical field. TSTC’s students can pursue a “Triple Crown” consisting of an Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate, an Electrical Construction certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology.

“It (solar) is not an industry that is going to shrink, realistically,” Whitted said. “People are not going to stop putting in solar unless there is something better out there.”

Whitted said skills in basic mathematics and communication are needed for the solar field. It also helps not to be afraid of heights.

Kelly said people interested in the solar field should strive to become an electrical apprentice and journeyman.

“If you want to do that, you are in the construction business because that is a big part of installing the arrays,” he said. “If you do not want to be the boots on the roof, then learn how to design these things and learn as much engineering as you can.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC begins new holiday tradition

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College students are the heart of the “Culture of Caring” that TSTC prides itself on. Recently TSTC’s Advocacy and Resource Center in Fort Bend County gave Thanksgiving meals to some students to make their holiday a little cozier.

Advocacy and Resource Center coach Larissa Moreno discussed the importance of TSTC being there for students when they need it, and the start of a new tradition for TSTC in Fort Bend County.

Who received the Thanksgiving meals?

Several students who are attending TSTC in Fort Bend County received the meals. The groceries were free to the students and delivered by a local grocery store.

How did you decide who would be the recipients of the meals?

Several names were given to us by faculty and staff. We also utilized our own caseload.

Why did the Advocacy and Resource Center decide to give away Thanksgiving meals?

Part of TSTC’s Culture of Caring is to support and assist students who are food insecure. Hunger should not be an obstacle in reaching their academic goals.

Providing a Thanksgiving meal for students is a tradition I wanted to start for our campus. This year, we had groceries delivered to students so they could enjoy a safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving meal in their own home. When I speak to our students, they have such a positive attitude and are focused on getting their education. I want them to stay that way. I want our TSTC students to know that the Advocacy and Resource Center is here to help them if life throws them a curveball, or if they need assistance with food, child care, books or tools. We can find the resources.

The Advocacy and Resource Center is available to TSTC students who are in need of assistance on their collegiate journey. For more information, visit


TSTC Welding instructor motivated by student success

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Welding Technology instructor Manuel Ahumada enjoys the field that he dedicates his time to teaching. Most importantly, he enjoys seeing his students succeed throughout the semester with increasing confidence in their skills as they prepare to enter the growing welding field.

 What inspired you to become an instructor?

I have always felt I had a need of helping others, and with my love of the welding field, I combined them. There’s a sense of gratitude involved in knowing I helped a student achieve the goal of being a welder.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

Meeting and helping new, incoming students is something that is very enjoyable. Watching their spirits light up when their hard work results in a good weld is always special.

Do you have a favorite memory at TSTC so far?

The first time I stood on stage at commencement congratulating the first set of students I taught is my favorite memory. It was a very proud moment for me.

What do you enjoy most about welding technology?

Seeing students begin the program knowing nothing about the field and leaving with a great experience and the knowledge of being a good welder is what I enjoy most about the program.

To learn more about TSTC, visit


Welding student putting working on a weld in the TSTC Welding Technology lab.


TSTC to host Welding Technology open house

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Prospective Texas State Technical College Welding Technology students can have the opportunity to learn about the program firsthand during the program’s open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.

“Potential students will get a look into our new and updated welding building during their visit to campus,” said assistant enrollment director Ricardo Trevino. “This will be an opportunity to meet with an enrollment coach, submit all documents necessary to enroll, and even be able to register for classes within the same day.”

During the open house, attendees are encouraged to ask any questions they may have about the program or to express concerns. TSTC’s coronavirus protocols will also be strictly enforced.

“We will tour the building as we maintain social distancing,” Trevino said. “The tour will give visitors an interactive look as to what they can expect once they join our welding program.”

Several instructors will be in attendance through the duration of the open house, including lab assistant Juan Avila, who said that visitors will get to see the different aspects of the program.

“I hope prospective students are able to get a preview of what they will be learning here at TSTC,” he said. “They will get a look at the different varieties of welding processes, projects and our automation program.”

Visitors can also learn about financial aid and scholarship opportunities during the open house.

Trevino noted that the Welding Technology program has expanded its capabilities to give students the best education possible to prepare them for the field.

“Our program is growing, and the opportunities for applicants to join a fulfilling career that will lead to a great job have never been better,” he said. “We want to extend this invitation knowing we have one of the best programs in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Those interested in attending the open house may email Ricardo Trevino at

To learn more about TSTC, visit

TSTC instructor receives Chancellor’s Excellence Award

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – First-year seminar instructor Claudia Arnold has taught at Texas State Technical College for 15 years. Recently, her hard work and dedication were recognized when she received a Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

The award is particularly special because recipients not only are recognized for their commitment to TSTC’s core values of excellence, accountability, integrity, and service but also are nominated by their colleagues.

“Knowing that I received this award because I was nominated by my peers is a feeling that I can’t explain,” she said. “My priority is to be a team member and treat my peers and students with respect.”

In an email sent to TSTC staff and faculty, Chancellor Mike Reeser said that one common characteristic that Arnold’s peers noted about her was her dedication.

In that same email, TSTC Provost Cledia Hernandez said that Arnold embodies what it means to go the extra mile.

“Claudia has always demonstrated a passion for making TSTC a great place,” she said. “Her work ethic is admirable and demonstrates that of a true leader, so much so that she was nominated by eight colleagues for this prestigious award.”

Arnold is grateful that she gets to work with people who inspire and appreciate her.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to nominate me,” she said. “I’m blessed to work with such great people.”

While she enjoys all aspects of her job, one thing she is most fond of is watching her students succeed.

“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing my students understand my lectures,” she said. “I really enjoy using different teaching strategies to get the subject matter across. I always tell all of my students to finish what they start. I explain to them that once they get their degree, nobody can take that away.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit