Category Archives: Brownwood

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 tstc.edu.

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.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

TSTC graduate completes EMS program in hometown

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Texas State Technical College graduate John Hendrix was happy to see the Emergency Medical Services program come to Brownwood.

In 2016, Hendrix had the chance to build on his advanced certification when the EMS program began at the Brownwood campus.

“The closest place a paramedic program was available was more than one hour away. I had a family and work to think about,” he said. “I always told myself that if the program was offered locally, I would take it. I was happy when TSTC began offering it in Brownwood.”

Hendrix graduated this spring with an Associate of Applied Science paramedic degree. 

He is no stranger to first responders and the medical field. His father recently retired after 37 years with the Arlington Fire Department, and his mother is a nurse at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

“When I was a senior in high school, I started taking EMS basic courses at night. It was something I really liked,” he said. “After high school, I went to the fire academy and really liked that. I thought I could make this a career.”

He started his firefighting career at the Lake Worth Fire Department while in college. In 2012, he and his wife moved to Brownwood, where he began working for the Brownwood Fire Department. He is also a member of the Early Fire Department.

Hendrix said his department supervisors gave him time off for classes. It also helped that some of the instructors worked at the Brownwood Fire Department.

“They were always good about giving me the time to complete my coursework,” he said.

Hendrix said the EMS program takes a commitment from the students, but rewards are seen at the end.

“You know you are going to pass and make it through,” he said. “The instructors make sure you are prepared to pass the National Register. That is one of the best things about the program. The instructors want you to succeed.”

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

TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

(ABILENE, Texas) – Sheryl Givens turned a lifelong passion into a career.

Since graduating from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology in 2018, Givens has worked as a designer for SCS Technologies in Big Spring.

“I have always been interested in construction,” Given said. “Growing up, I liked drawing things on a day-by-day basis.”

At SCS Technologies, Givens designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies. The company specializes in programmable logic controller-based systems, control panel fabrication, and custody transfer liquid measurements.

Givens said being part of the TSTC program prepared her for this career.

“Throughout the years, I have admired all the strong work ethic and personal integrity of the field,” she said. “I appreciated all the help from TSTC, which led me to become a motivated and driven professional with a high level of leadership and initiative, as well as excellent analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills.”

She said TSTC instructors prepared her for a career as a designer.

“They helped me find challenging career opportunities where knowledge, skills, and experience can be effectively utilized with organizations offering opportunities for professional growth and advancement,” Givens said.

The drafting and design program is available at the Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, and Waco campuses.

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

TSTC Business Management Technology instructor brings experience into the classroom

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – You might say that Texas State Technical College Business Management Technology instructor Duston Brooks brings some practical experience of a bovine nature into the classroom.

Prior to becoming an instructor at TSTC, Brooks worked on the financial side of his family’s dairy farm. He now brings that knowledge to his students as they work toward an Associate of Applied Science degree or certificate in Business Management Technology.

“I learned the financial side of things and how to use the software,” said Brooks, who has taught at TSTC since 2000.

When Brooks first started teaching, TSTC offered a degree in Computer Information Technology. It is now the five-semester Business Management Technology degree program.

Students learn three areas of business management. Brooks said the first part of the program focuses on accounting, followed by management and then software.

“Anybody who works at a computer desk at any business will benefit from this program,” he said.

Students learn a variety of skills, including word processing, presentation graphics, accounting, and business ethics, principles of accounting and management, small business operations, and payroll accounting.

“You will benefit from a well-rounded education,” Brooks said, adding that some graduates continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

In addition to on-campus classes, TSTC’s Business Management Technology program is available online, which helps some students, Brooks said.

“We know that people are working and have kids. This gives them the feasibility to complete the program online and at their own pace,” he said.

Brooks said one student completed the course while being employed as a full-time truck driver.

“He could not attend a class on campus, so he took his laptop with him,” he said. “Whenever he had time off the road, he would work on his online classes.”

During his tenure at TSTC, Brooks has seen students of all ages complete the program.

“We have had students just out of high school to adults in their 50s and 60s. Some people want to come back and relearn skills or even learn brand-new skills in order to update their resume,” he said.

Completing the program, according to Brooks, allows graduates to interview for office management positions. He said through hard work, some graduates have worked their way up to higher positions.

Brooks has also had students who wanted to start their own business.

“There are people from our program working in small towns and bigger cities,” he said. “Students who want to move up from a physically challenging job can take our program to get them in a better office or management position.”

Business Management Technology is available at the Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Harlingen, and Marshall campuses.

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

TSTC instructor says Chemical Dependency Counseling offers students more than a degree

(ABILENE, Texas) – Graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program learn more about themselves, according to Patty Bundick, the program’s department chair.

Bundick said the need for licensed counselors is always high and students range in age from high school graduates to older students.

“Some of our students are hungry to know more about themselves,” Bundick said. “The one thing I always think about, even if the student does not go to work in the field, is that the program has made a difference in their life.”

Bundick’s philosophy is only natural.

“I am a counselor at heart. I see students come in and know that what I teach them will help not only them, but it will help someone else,” she said.

The five-semester Associate of Applied Science degree program covers several topics, including working with families and family intervention.

“You will learn all aspects of treatment,” Bundick said.

Students also discuss current issues during class. Bundick said topics have ranged from Child Protective Services to HIV and other diseases.

The program also allows Bundick to teach students how the body processes a drug and the behaviors it might cause.

Today, she said more high school graduates are showing an interest in the program.

She said some students recovered from their addiction and want to help others do the same.

Graduates have found employment at different facilities in West Texas, including the Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Homeward Bound, Serenity House, the Taylor County Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

Bundick said she hopes the program continues to grow when it is available online only starting in the fall of 2021. TSTC offers the program in Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood. 

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

Computer networkers keep people connected

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – With more people working from home, the internet has been busy.

Renee Blackshear, a Computer Networking and Systems Administration instructor at Texas State Technical College, said computer networkers have been the “unseen essential workers” during the past few months.

“Computer networkers have been able to keep people in communication with each other,” she said.

The TSTC program was spotlighted this month during a virtual visit on Facebook. Blackshear focused the visit on what students will learn over the program’s five semesters. She said her goal was to turn the people watching the virtual visit into students.

“A lot of people may be looking for a different career. I want them to know this is a cool program,” she said.

Blackshear said graduates have found employment with health care systems, school districts, banks, institutions of higher education and telecommunication companies.

“Anywhere there is a computer, there is a need for a computer networking technician,” she said.

Students will learn routing, switching, server development, security and virtualization.

“All of these are important for a successful career in information technology,” Blackshear said.

While the program is available online, students do have lab sessions to complete.

“The best way of learning is by doing,” Blackshear said.

Students who are patient and pay attention to detail will find success, Blackshear said. However, networkers will find the job challenging.

“Within IT, our daily task list changes like the Texas weather: rapidly. This means one minute you could be sitting at your computer answering technical support questions or building a web server, and the next you could be on a ladder running cable across the ceiling for a network drop or setting up a wireless bridge to communicate for remote learning,” she said.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration at the Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

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

TSTC instructor says welders are always in demand

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Welders are always needed, no matter the economic situation.

Texas State Technical College Welding Technology instructor Robert Whitley knows his students will likely find a job soon after completing the program. In West Texas, welders are needed not only in the oil field, but also at other sites, he said.

“Other (businesses) are not hurting as bad as the oil field right now,” Whitley said. “A lot of our guys are noticing that welding is definitely a reliable source of income.”

Whitley said many welders are self-employed, while others like the structure of working for a company. No matter what, he said, welders usually can find work.

“Some of the guys like to venture out to the bigger cities for work. They go out several different directions to find a job,” he said.

With oil prices beginning to rebound, Whitley said he expects to see more students enrolled in the program, which is offered at each of TSTC’s 10 campuses. The college offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology, and certifications in structural welding and structural/pipe welding.

“Hopefully everything in the oil field will be going the right way. When that happens, we will probably pick up another boom (of students),” he said.

Whitley said his main goal is to see students employed.

“I like to see them succeed. The best thing for me is to send kids out and see them be able to provide for their family,” he said.

With social distancing being the new normal in business, Whitley said lab sessions have been set up to state standards. He said that social distancing is nothing new to welders.

“Many of them will not be near anyone when they are working,” he said. 

During lab sessions, Whitley said students have worked within the guidelines.

“It has kept our guys on their toes. It is teaching them to prepare for the unexpected,” he said.

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

TSTC students practice social distancing during lab sessions

(SWEETWATER, Texas) – A limited number of Texas State Technical College students returned to campus Monday, May 4.

Students allowed back on campus are studying in programs that require them to complete hands-on lab work in order to finalize their semester. While on campus, students and instructors practiced social distancing guidelines and wore face coverings at all times.

Students were glad to be back on campus and have social interaction with classmates.

“I am excited to be back,” said Diesel Equipment Technology student Jacob Rambo, of Wichita Falls. “While we were away, I did a skills test and had to align my own vehicle.”

Devyn Johnson from Lubbock, who is also a Diesel Equipment Technology student, said he spent time at work and with his family while away from campus.

“It feels good to be back. I missed the bonding with my friends and the coming together we had before getting started with class,” he said. “I have learned a lot from these guys.”

The return to on-campus instruction is specifically authorized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which has identified career and technical education as one area of education that may continue under the Texas governor’s Executive Order No. GA-16.

“CTE programs that require hands-on instruction that cannot be delivered online can continue to be delivered, but in strict accordance with CDC guidelines,” the executive order states.

“It is good to be back in the groove,” said Diesel Equipment Technology student David Wilson, of Brownwood..

Welding students in Sweetwater were also excited to be back on campus. Brian Naza, of Colorado City, admitted he did not do any welding at home.

“It is important that I improve my cutting and torch skills,” he said about what his focus would be on during the on-campus lab sessions.

Welding student Hector Mendez, of Senora, said returning to campus was a fresh start.

“I am looking forward to finishing what I started. I want to make good grades and put my skills to use,” he said.

Mendez said that before starting the lab session, his classmates talked about what they did during the past five weeks.

“We were really glad to see each other, but more importantly we want to finish and graduate,” he said.

For more information about how TSTC has prepared to return students to campus, visit https://tstc.edu/coronavirus.

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