Category Archives: Abilene

TSTC Welding Technology offers Occupational Skills Award certification in Abilene

(ABILENE, Texas) – Many construction companies are looking for entry-level welders.

To help fill that need, Texas State Technical College will offer an Occupational Skills Award certification program in Welding Technology this fall at the college’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene. 

Three basic welding courses will be offered over 15 weeks, said instructor Anthony Lewis.

“There is always a need for welders in every region of Texas. Between 80 and 90 percent of those jobs are for entry-level positions,” he said.

The Occupational Skills Award is part of TSTC’s Rapid Industry Skills and Employability (RISE) program that helps students learn skills quickly in order to start a career.

“When students complete this OSA program, they will have no trouble finding a job,” Lewis said. “The skills we will teach are what employers are looking for in a welder.”

Lewis will spend five weeks covering three different areas of welding.

The first five weeks will be the Introduction to Welding Using Multiple Processes class. Lewis said students will learn basic welding techniques using several different processes, including Oxy-fuel welding and cutting, gas metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding.

“The first five weeks, we will cover just the basics of welding to get the students ready for the next class,” Lewis said.

The second course will be Introduction to Shielded Metal Arc Welding. Lewis said emphasis will be placed on power sources, electrode selection and different joint designs.

The final five weeks will be Intermediate Welding Using Multiple Processes. Lewis said this is a more advanced class, but it will prepare students for a job. Students will receive instruction on using layout tools and blueprint reading that will include demonstrations.

Students will not spend the entire time in the classroom. Lewis said they will put what they learn into use during lab sessions.

“It will be fast and furious, but the students will get enough knowledge and information that it will not overwhelm them,” he said.

While in the classroom, students will hear firsthand about Lewis’ knowledge of welding and working on a job site.

“I have a lot of knowledge to give them. I have done a lot of work and will bring that experience into the classroom,” he said.

TSTC is offering several Occupational Skills Awards programs this fall. With unemployment increasing in Texas, TSTC is partnering with business and industry through the RISE program to get Texans back to work. The short-term, skills-focused courses provide students with the ability to gain basic technical skills to start an entry-level career.

“From there, through hard work and determination, students can enhance their skills and earn promotions,” Lewis said.

For more information on the Occupational Skills Awards courses, visit

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Computer Networking students to use virtual software program

(ABILENE, Texas) – A new program will allow Computer Networking and Systems Administration students at Texas State Technical College to work on equipment virtually.

TSTC will use the NetLab program for virtual lab sessions, instructor Adrian Medrano said.

“NetLab is very popular for remote training,” Medrano said. “The benefits are amazing.”

Students will use the program to work on a computer system online just like the real instruments. Medrano said students will operate instruments with knobs and buttons the same way they would an actual computer. Measurements will be displayed on the computer screen to help students during the lab session, he added.

“Having NetLab is huge. Companies like Cisco and Microsoft use this for training their employees,” Medrano said. “With the push to move everything online, we are looking forward to getting this content to our students.”

Medrano is no stranger to the program. He said TSTC instructors have used it for their own training sessions held throughout the state.

“I enjoy working with this program. It is easy to navigate,” he said. “I see nothing but smooth sailing for our students when they use NetLab.”

The program will allow Medrano and other instructors to achieve their goal of providing companies with a “well-rounded individual for an IT (information technology) department.”

“We are not going to focus on one certain area. By the time a student graduates, they will learn how to take apart and put back together a computer system,” Medrano said. “They will know how to put a computer on a company network, share files, and other aspects of computer networking.”

That knowledge is important in today’s business world, according to Medrano.

“Sharing information between computers in a business is the main aspect of the network,” he said.

Another area in which students will gain knowledge is security settings.

“We are going to teach students how to make a computer virus-free and to make sure no one hacks into the system,” Medrano said. “We are going to teach all of the security tactics they will need, as well as the difference between a virus, worm and Trojan software.”

Medrano said students will become knowledgeable about routers and switches.

“They will know the difference between a home router and routers used at small businesses,” he said. “Students are going to know exactly how the internet happens when they complete the program. They are going to know how they can send something from their home to around the world with just one click.”

Medrano said the online classes will benefit students.

“This will give students a lot of flexibility, and they can remain safe,” he said. “We are going to deliver our content via video, but it will still have a classroom feel.”

Medrano said instructors were recorded during classes last spring, and those videos will be used for classroom lessons during the upcoming school year.

“Students will be able to watch the video at their convenience and then practice what they learned with NetLab,” he said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Dental assistant course to be offered at TSTC’s Abilene campus

(ABILENE, Texas) – To help fill the need for dental assistants, Texas State Technical College will offer a special workforce training program this fall.

The nine-week course will be held in Abilene and include 100 hours of classroom instruction and 40 clinical hours. Classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 21.

“The purpose of the program is to familiarize students with all areas of administrative and clinical dental assisting, focusing on the responsibilities required to function as an assistant in a dental practice,” said Cindy Brunett, TSTC’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education project manager.

Nationwide, there is a need for health care-related services, including dental assistants.

“With a workforce of over 300,000 strong, dental assisting ranks as the fourth-fastest-growing occupation in the health care technician field,” Brunett said.

To be eligible for the program, students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED. Brunett said students must also provide their own scrubs and pass a background check.

During the program, students will learn about dental office policies and guidelines, legal aspects of the practice, dental equipment and tooth structure.

One reason for offering the fast-track program was to attract military spouses in the Abilene area.

“When the students complete the course, they will be able to get their national certification,” Brunett said. “If they move from Dyess Air Force Base, they will be recognized as a dental assistant if they pass the certification.”

Upon course completion, students will be prepared to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam, Radiation Health and Safety exam and DANB Infection Control exam, she said.

Tuition costs include the textbook, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners exam fees and proctoring, a CPR certification course and the 40-hour clinical externship.

Brunett said with unemployment rates still near all-time highs, people are looking for a career opportunity.

“The need for these fast-track programs is especially high right now. This is the perfect time to roll out a program like this,” she said. “Many people may be looking at a career change, and this is a good first step.”

Plans are to hold classes in person this fall with all safety protocols in place to allow for social distancing. Brunett said that could change if required by state or local officials.

“We will have the capability to provide this program online,” she said. “Right now, the program is open on a first-come, first-served basis, and we are excited to provide this to our community.”

For more information on the course, contact Teresa Adames at or Brunett at

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC Electrical Power and Controls instructor’s goal is for students to join workforc

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College Electrical Power and Controls instructor Kevin Staton has one goal for his students.

“We are training Texans to work in Texas,” he said. “When students graduate from our program, they can work in almost any state or foreign country. Anywhere there is control work, there is a job for our students.”

The demand for electrical power and controls technicians is always high, and TSTC offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program at the Abilene, Fort Bend County, North Texas and Waco campuses.

In West Texas, Staton has seen the need for technicians at several utility companies, including Taylor Electric Cooperative, American Electric Power and Oncor. He said some students have found employment at warehouses in Texas, including for Amazon.

“West Texas, and especially Abilene, is growing. Things are getting bigger, and companies are looking to expand,” he said.

He said utility companies will need someone to work on transformers, and TSTC provides training for that.

“We offer more than just one area of study,” Staton said. “We teach a wide variety of programs that are in the electrical field.”

He said another area is substation operations, and students will also learn how that process works.

Students have access to labs that include industry-standard electrical distribution, transmission, equipment testing, automation, instrumentation motion-control tools, transformers and electrical motors.

Staton said the first thing students learn is the importance of safety.

“Safety is the key to being a good technician,” he said.

Staton said he not only teaches in the classroom and lab. If a student needs extra help after class, he is willing to help.

“When I was younger, someone always helped me. I want to make sure to do that now. I want to be able to give back and help the students,” he said. “I take pride in being flexible to help students.”

Staton tells prospective students that the program offers a guarantee.

“We are part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee program. That proves that we want to make things happen for our students,” he said.

The Money-Back Guarantee program refunds the tuition of participating graduates if they do not find a job in their career field within six months of graduation.

“In my two years at TSTC, we have had a high success rate in finding (welding) graduates a job. Only one did not find a job after six months, but it was because he chose another career path,” Staton said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC student benefits from scholarship for military veterans

(ABILENE, Texas) – Area military veterans can take advantage of a scholarship opportunity to attend Texas State Technical College.

Since 2015, EMA Electromechanics has given TSTC a total of $225,000 for the Sweetwater Veterans’ Funds for College Education. The company, based in Sweetwater, is an international maker of equipment for the wind energy sector.

For Rafael Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran, the scholarship is helping his family by offsetting college costs.

“It has supplemented some of the money I would have used for school. Now I do not have to worry about paying for things around the house and college,” Garcia said. “It has helped me provide for my family while attending school.”

Garcia is studying Industrial Systems and plans to graduate this fall. In the Army, he was responsible for fueling aircraft, but he wanted to expand his knowledge. That is why he chose TSTC.

“I wanted to be more in-depth with how things worked. I wanted to learn more than just fueling an aircraft,” he said. “My goal is to be more efficient and improve myself.”

Garcia learned of the scholarship through Annette Collins, a Veteran Services program officer at TSTC.

“I hope other veterans take advantage of this opportunity,” Garcia said. “This is an extra incentive to better yourself after the military.”

The scholarship funds have helped veterans complete their technical education at TSTC’s West Texas campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Sweetwater.

“The scholarship is incredibly valuable for our students. There are many who have expressed that without the scholarship, a college education would not have been possible for them,” said Pam Marler, TSTC’s Veteran Services coordinator. “The funds have helped with book purchases, supplies, tools, and in some cases living expenses to allow our students to focus on completing their education.”

EMA Electromechanics was founded in 1952 in Argentina. The company’s VDH Series Vacuum Circuit Breaker was first sold in the United States in 2003, and the company began its American operations in 2010 in Sweetwater.

For more information on EMA Electromechanics, go to

To learn more about TSTC’s Veteran Services program, visit

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Eastman works to help TSTC students achieve success

(ABILENE, Texas) – Lance Eastman, Texas State Technical College’s West Texas interim provost and senior vice president of Student Learning, works to make sure that students meet the college’s goal.

“I really like our mantra, ‘Place Texans in great-paying jobs.’ It’s simple. We have really worked hard to live up to our mantra,” he said.

Eastman, who was named interim provost in May, is working with the college’s leadership, faculty and staff on a competency-based learning schedule for students. He is no stranger to the learning approach because it was used at his previous place of employment, Davis Technical College in Kaysville, Utah.

“At TSTC, we are working to have flexibility and to allow students to schedule classes around their life. Studies have shown that it works,” Eastman said. “With this type of program, retention is much better.”

Prior to arriving at TSTC more than two years ago, Eastman served as director of the manufacturing and transportation programs at Davis Technical College. He also taught an industrial maintenance class.

His love for electronics came while watching “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.”

“Seeing Luke Skywalker’s hand got me into electronics,” he said of the movie scene in which Skywalker’s missing hand is replaced with a robotic one.

Eastman once worked in the private sector in industrial maintenance. But when a teaching position opened, he turned to educating young minds.

“Teaching is nothing more than transferring knowledge,” he said. “I am the kind of person who would want to put a button on something to try and make it work. I want to pass that knowledge on to others.”

He learned about TSTC through a job posting showing an opening for the vice president position. He had confidence that he would be picked, telling his wife, Beckie, that he was going to apply for the job and his family “will move to Texas.”

Eastman said during the entire interview process, he remained confident that he would be selected for the position.

“I kept telling my wife they are going to hire me,” he said.

Since his hiring, Eastman said he has been welcomed by not only the TSTC family, but also the Abilene community. His oldest daughter, Sydney, recently completed a church mission in Idaho, and his youngest daughter, Brooklyn, is a senior at Wylie High School in Abilene.

“I love the people of Texas,” Eastman said, admitting that his only stop in Texas prior to an in-person interview at TSTC was a flight layover in Dallas. “This is a fantastic place to live.”

In his spare time, which he said he does not have much of, Eastman enjoys fishing, gardening and church activities.

“My wife and I have also spent a lot of hanging with the kids and their friends. They like to play cards with us because they think they can beat us,” he said with a laugh.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Two TSTC programs to be offered fully online this fall

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Computer Programming Technology and Drafting and Design instructors are gearing up for a different way to offer classes.

The two programs will be offered completely online this fall, and TSTC instructor Julie Rhoades welcomes the opportunity. 

She is no stranger to teaching Computer Programming online. It was previously available online before being shifted to a hybrid status a few years ago.

“Everything is on schedule to offer the programs online,” she said. “The Computer Programming course will be project based. We will have video lessons and virtual classes for discussions.”

While it is not required that students attend each live video lesson, Rhoades said classes will be recorded for students to watch at a later time. In addition, she will schedule weekly assignments for students to complete.

Students will also have the opportunity to submit topic suggestions that may be discussed during video lessons.

Instructors will use the latest video technology to connect to students for questions and feedback, Rhoades said.

“We want to be able to see and hear each other. I will be able to share my screen with the students, and they will be able to share their screens with me,” she said.

Rhoades said she still wants to provide a personal touch.

“I want our students to realize we are here to personally help them,” she said.

The virtual experience may also be used during study groups.

“This is a different type of communication method. We want the students to feel comfortable talking to each other. This will make it more personable,” Rhoades said.

This fall, Rhoades will teach two Drafting and Design classes and one Computer Programming class. According to her, the Drafting and Design class is being developed without a textbook requirement.

While having the program fully online is not new, Rhoades said she has recently seen more interest from prospective students.

“One student told me they would not consider it if it was not online. They had some safety concerns, but once they learned it was fully online, they were on board,” she said. “We want to accommodate people who may not feel safe.”

The Computer Programming Technology online program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree. Drafting and Design offers three Associate of Applied Science degrees. They are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Architectural/Civil Drafting Technology, and Mechanical-Electrical Drafting Technology.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC recruiters remain busy during summer

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College recruiters have been busy working the phones and online resources this summer.

With the different TSTC campuses closed for student tours, the college’s recruiters in West Texas have been getting creative in informing prospective students of the programs available.

“It has presented us with some new challenges,” said Chris Johnson, lead recruiter, in discussing how the team is working to recruit students. “We have spent some time figuring things out.”

One of the most-asked questions from prospective students is the security of a job, especially with the economy in recession.

“People want to know if they get a job, would they be laid off six months later,” Johnson said. “We have great programs available, and they are considered to be recession-proof. People are still going to need to have their cars worked on during this time. Companies are still going to need workers.”

With campus tours currently not possible, recruiters have spent their time working on virtual visits. Johnson said many school counselors are interested in the online visits.

Johnson said the virtual visits allow instructors to showcase the equipment available on campus. But they do have one downside.

“One thing we pride ourselves on is showing the equipment during a tour. We are still able to show off the equipment, but it is virtual,” he said. “I do miss seeing the reaction in person of students watching how it is used.”

With fall semester classes scheduled to begin Aug. 31, Johnson said recruiters will continue to work with local high schools to provide information.

“We want to be available to the students. We want them to be excited about what they can see, even though they cannot get out and see it in person,” he said.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

Students do not need experience to begin TSTC aviation maintenance programs, instructor says

(ABILENE, Texas) – Students do not need to have any mechanical experience to start Texas State Technical College’s Aircraft Airframe Technology or Aircraft Powerplant Technology programs.

“We tell people that you do not have to have a mechanical background to be successful,” instructor Josh Parker said. “All of our students start out in the same place and work to get to the same point.”

That point, according to Parker, is to be successful in the workforce. But he also has one additional goal for students.

“We are going to get them to the point that they have the knowledge to pass the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) exam,” he said.

Parker said a majority of graduates find entry-level positions with competitive pay.

“For the past six years, we have been able to put our graduates in the workforce,” he added.

In Abilene, some TSTC graduates have been hired by Eagle Aviation Services, which is on the grounds of the Abilene Regional Airport. Having the company nearby helps, Parker said.

“We do not have a lot of options in West Texas. Having Eagle Aviation right here helps us, especially since they are a maintenance-based company,” he said.

Students in the Aircraft Powerplant Technology program will learn to inspect, maintain and overhaul engine systems. Most of the learning, according to Parker, is hands-on.

“Students learn more when they get in there and do the work,” he said.

The aviation programs are also available at the Harlingen and Waco campuses. They offer both Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion.

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, go to

TSTC student challenges the traditional notion of welding

(ABILENE, Texas) – Andrea Green admitted she wanted to do something different in her life.

Researching college opportunities, Green, a native of Abilene, learned about Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program. Without any welding experience, Green enrolled in the program and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree.

“I wanted to do something different and something big,” she said. “I am good at hands-on work and have watched welders do what they do. I said to myself, ‘I can do this.’”

Green knew the welding field was dominated by men, but that did not deter her.

“I knew welding was mainly a field for men, but I have done things a lot of women normally do not do,” she said. “So I went for it, and I have enjoyed it.”

Green is entering her second semester in the program and has a goal in sight.

“Looking at the big picture, it would be cool to tell people I help build skyscrapers or build space rockets,” she said.

She admitted some of her classmates were impressed that she was working on the process of gas tungsten arc welding.

“After a few weeks of work, I liked what I was doing and the way it looks,” she said.

Green said her classmates were “shocked” but welcoming when they saw her the first time.

“Throughout the semester they saw my progress, and we learned to help each other,” she said.

The instructors are also key to helping Green and other students.

“Everyone has a different technique. It is good to see techniques from more than your point of view,” she said. “The instructors show us something, and I tell myself that I can try that. I try it, and it gives me the outcome I like.”

She also said instructors are approachable when it comes to helping students.

“You do not have to be intimidated to ask for help. The instructors are always willing to help,” she said.

Green said she hopes more women will look at a career in welding. She has seen a trend in which women are working in male-dominated fields and hopes welding is added to the list.

“Slowly but surely, women are working their way into male-dominated fields,” she said. “Just because men dominate a field doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just have to try.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to