Category Archives: Marshall

Zoerner sees opportunities for wind energy students

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – One job need that is not going away anytime soon is that of wind energy technician.

Texas State Technical College Wind Energy Technology instructor Patrick Zoerner said that in light of today’s headlines, more people may look to change careers.

“I think what is happening today (with COVID-19) will open up everybody’s eyes,” Zoerner said. “People will be asking themselves, ‘Is this what I want to be doing (careerwise)?’”

The Harlingen campus offers a two-year associate of applied science curriculum in Wind Energy Technology and a three-semester certificate program for wind energy technicians.

“I think we will have a good influx of students coming this fall,” Zoerner said. “I think that it, along with the lineman program we are starting, will be good for the local workforce.”

Zoerner always tells new students they will need to have thick skin to work inside a wind turbine cell. But he also preaches safety “first and foremost.”

“This is not for the faintest of hearts. It is going to be hard work,” he said. “You are going to have to work in the heat. It could be up to 160 degrees in the cell at the top.”

With TSTC temporarily moving to remote classes at this time, Zoerner said current students will have several tasks to complete online, including researching wind energy companies.

He said most of the students had completed climbing requirements prior to this semester.

“It has been a lot of refresher stuff this semester,” Zoerner said of tower climbs. “I had them climb to allow them to go through the cycle on a routine basis. It (the extended spring break) should not really affect us.”

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program: Make It Difficult for Hackers to Get Information During COVID-19 Crisis

(MARSHALL, Texas) – As East Texans adapt to an uncertain future of self-isolation and businesses reducing hours or temporarily closing, online shopping is becoming the way for consumers to acquire what they want.

And for those people who do not shop online much, they could be a prime target for scammers.

“From a security perspective, the most important thing a consumer can do is make it difficult to get their information,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Cybersecurity program in Marshall. “Most consumer hackers will give up quickly if challenged.”

Hertel said people should use a “defense in depth” approach to create multiple layers of security. She recommends consumers follow cybercrime and security journalist/blogger Brian Krebs’ three rules: If you did not look for it, do not install it; update what you have installed; and if you no longer need it, get rid of it.  She added to Krebs’ guidelines: If it seems too good to be true, it is.

Hertel said people should have an active antivirus system and a software firewall, along with a secure home network.

“Put a password on your router and wireless networks, and hide them from anyone that might be driving by,” she said. “Make sure your router is encrypting your network traffic so your usernames, passwords and banking information are scrambled and cannot be seen.”

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau received more than 28,000 complaints and at least 10,000 scam reports nationwide related to online shopping.

“With identity theft, there is never a 100 percent guarantee that it will happen to you, but there are things you can do not to become a victim,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and chief executive officer of the bureau’s Central East Texas office in Tyler.

The bureau recommends consumers do online research before making purchases through social media and websites. The agency advises to research sellers, use a credit card for secure online payments, take time to think about purchases and keep documentation of all orders.

Mills said consumers should be aware of fake websites, malware and clickbait when perusing the internet. She said not to shop when using Wi-Fi hotspots because they are not secure.

“If a hacker is in the vicinity, they might have access to your information,” she said.

Mills said consumers should utilize locally-owned stores as much as possible.

“You can verify the legitimacy a little better, and when you go there, you are supporting the local economy,” she said.

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Safety a Top Priority in TSTC Welding Technology Program

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Keeping students safe while welding is a top priority for Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology instructors.

Philip Miller, an instructor in TSTC’s Welding Technology program in Marshall, said students learn about safety in the first couple of weeks each semester. Personal protection equipment is one of the most important topics covered.

“We have a PowerPoint we show them, and we read through it and they ask us questions,” Miller said.

Students must pass a safety quiz in every class before undertaking welding in labs.

Safety extends beyond what students need to wear when welding.

“Recently we moved a metal rack in the lab because it was in the way of the general flow of the room,” Miller said. “We picked up some things off the ground that may have been small trip hazards. We have added a lot of safety things in the last few months.”

Mark Wilfert, an instructor in TSTC’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program, said the work of welders is guided by separate general industry and construction industry regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The regulations are taught in two classes that students take as part of the OSCT program.

Wilfert said welders must wear eye protection, protective gloves, hearing protection, a leather protective shirt, nonslip boots, and helmets with the proper shading. According to OSHA guidelines, the type of welding being done is dependent on the shading of the helmets. 

Some of the risks Wilfert said welders can encounter if not properly protected include electrocution, vision problems caused by bright lights, and eye and skin injuries.This is why TSTC places so much emphasis on safety in the Welding Technology program. 

TSTC’s technical programs are the key to creating the next generation of well-trained skilled and safety-minded welders that are needed in the growing workforce.

Many workplaces have occupational health and safety specialists and technicians who inspect and test equipment, draft workplace processes for safety and health, and investigate workplace incidents. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted the need for workers to rise to more than 125,000 by 2028 due to an aging workforce and insurance costs.

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TSTC’s Workforce Training to Offer Solar Energy Class

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training department will host a continuing education class on solar energy from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, in the South Building on the Marshall campus.

“We have a lot of people in East Texas that can make use of solar energy to power up remote areas on their property,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of Workforce Training in Marshall.

Using solar energy means low water usage, long-term price certainty and energy security, according to the Texas Solar Power Association’s Texas Solar Industry Overview released in March 2019. More than $4.5 billion has been invested in solar projects in Texas, according to the trade association.

“We are seeing solar growth in all parts of the state,” said Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association in Austin. “Our data point is that in the SWEPCO Texas service territory covering part of East Texas, installed solar capacity increased more than 20 percent in 2020, growing from 984 mW to 1,192 kW. East Texas has a good solar resource, and it makes sense that residents would look to take advantage of it.”

Hughes, a registered professional engineer, will teach the course. The cost is $75 and includes a combination of lecture and hands-on training. To register, contact TSTC’s Workforce Training department at 903-923-3442.

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TSTC Process Operations Program Graduates Sought by Companies

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Once equipment is installed at a chemical plant, personnel are needed to operate it.

Texas State Technical College’s Process Operations program in Marshall teaches industrial processes, troubleshooting, process instrumentation and other topics to students interested in pursuing jobs as chemical, gas plant, power plant or refinery operators.

“We have started to get Process Operations known by our Instrumentation Technology contacts that have gone back to their plants and gone to their operators and said we have the program at TSTC,” said Robert Lovelace, TSTC’s statewide department chair for the Instrumentation Technology and Process Operations programs.

Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview continues to hire interns and graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program, said Mike Tucker, a company learning services technologist. Since 2017, the global specialty materials company has hired more than 20 TSTC alumni.

TSTC is one of two colleges in Texas that have industry-validated Process Operations programs the company looks to for prospective employees.

“It is challenging to fill these positions, so we use our internship program as a three-month interview,” Tucker said. “The internship screening process is rigorous.”

Nick Scott, operations support manager at Pergan Marshall in Marshall, said the company has seen an increase in applicants for internships and full-time employment in the last year. But, he said it is becoming harder to find good candidates who understand the commitment to working at a facility that operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and can be part of a diverse group of employees. The company manufactures full-line organic peroxide for the processing and polymer production industries.

Scott said TSTC’s faculty and staff make it easy to find job candidates with an understanding of the basic principles of manufacturing.

“We often prefer hiring graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program because the students chose this path because they had an interest in manufacturing,” Scott said. “They committed to multiple semesters of coursework, they have a general understanding of the equipment used in manufacturing environments and they are aware of safety hazards that could be present in a plant environment.”

Brady A. Sedler, site human resources manager at Sherwin-Williams in Garland, said the company had a challenging time filling reactor operator jobs.

“But, with the relationship we’ve built with TSTC and the programs they offer, it’s been nice to see future talent come to Sherwin-Williams from TSTC,” Sedler said. “We look forward to the continued partnership.”

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TSTC Holds Fall 2019 Commencement

(MARSHALL, Texas) – More than 30 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement held Friday, Dec. 6, at the Julius S. Scott Sr. Chapel at Wiley College in Marshall.

Several graduates already have jobs, while others are making plans for the future. 

Trevor Dammeir grew up in California and came to TSTC to study Precision Machining Technology. He will receive an associate degree at the ceremony. He chose TSTC because it is affordable, and has housing and is close to relatives living in Tyler.

While at TSTC, Dammeir took part in SkillsUSA and competed both statewide and nationally in the CNC Turning competition. 

“I like working with my hands,” he said. “TSTC had what I was looking for.”

Rush Harris, director of business services at the Marshall Economic Development Corp., was the ceremony’s guest speaker. He talked to graduates about knowing who they are, challenging themselves and to never stop learning. 

“TSTC is not an average college and you are not average graduates,” Harris said. “This school and your degrees are different from traditional post-graduate degrees. You have learned, and will continue to learn advanced technical skills. That dedication combined with the demand from employers results in very positive outcome for you graduates to stay committed.”

Harris is a graduate of Marshall High School, Southern Methodist University, the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.

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TSTC Expanding Night Classes for Programs

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus is expanding its offering of night classes for students.

The Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program will have its first night cohort starting in January for the spring semester. Students will attend classes two nights a week and during the day on Saturdays.

Nathan Cleveland, TSTC’s associate provost in Marshall, said the program was selected because of industry demand.

“We have more requests to fill jobs than we currently have graduates,” he said.  “For a nontraditional student that is working, they can come in the evenings and they can move up further in their job at their current employer.”

The first program to offer night classes on campus, Precision Machining Technology, is thriving this semester and will offer a second night cohort in January.  

Danny Nixon, a Precision Machining Technology instructor, said more than half of the 12 students in the program this semester work full time during the day and attend classes four nights a week. The students range in age from 19 to 33, Nixon said.

“They are so mature and willing to learn and attentive,” he said.

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TSTC Hosts Industry Job Fair in Marshall

(MARSHALL, Texas) – About 150 Texas State Technical College students met potential employers from Texas and throughout the nation on Thursday at its semiannual Industry Job Fair on the Marshall campus.

Attendees talked to representatives from about 30 companies set up at tables in the South Building. Some of the companies were seeking students interested in jobs as diesel technicians, fleet management supervisors, industrial painters and powerplant operators.

Cheyenne Riordon, a regional recruiter for Equipment Depot in Irving, said it was the company’s first time at the Marshall event. She was interested in talking to Diesel Equipment Technology students about forklift mechanic positions. The materials handling and equipment rental company’s only East Texas location is in Longview.

“I just want to get our name out there,” Riordon said. 

TrinityRail, which is headquartered in Dallas and has locations in Hallsville and Longview, was interested in insulators, paint preparers and welders.

“The employees that come out of TSTC are ready to start their careers and are very moldable,” said Hunter Hembrough, a TrinityRail talent acquisition specialist. “They are ready to work.”

Students asked questions and clutched company brochures as they explored the event’s information tables.

Dakota Smith, a Welding Technology student from Gladewater, is scheduled to graduate in December from TSTC. She said she talked to as many employers as possible and liked what she heard.

“I’m keeping a clear head about it,” she said. “I will go wherever the job is as long as it is a good fit.”

Lucas Wilson, an Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization student from Mount Enterprise, attended his first campus Industry Job Fair. He said he was interested in internship opportunities but also wanted to see what East Texas companies are looking for.

“I am here to network and get my name out there,” Wilson said. “A lot of the companies are looking for industrial maintenance.”

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TSTC Welding Technology Graduates in Demand in East Texas

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology students are finding a need for their skills regionally and throughout the country.

The demand for brazers, cutters, solderers and welders is projected to increase up to 439,100 workers by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency attributes this to replacing the country’s aging infrastructure, as well as the construction of new natural gas and oil pipelines and power generation facilities.

Many of TSTC’s Welding Technology graduates like to work near their hometowns, said Philip Miller, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor.

“As for being work-ready, we train them to work like they are already out in the workforce, showing up on time, being ready to start the day, having a good attitude. And we also inform them on the right and wrong for workplace conduct,” he said.

Smith Tank & Equipment Co. in Tyler hired one of TSTC’s summer Welding Technology graduates. James Blair III, the company’s president, said he likes TSTC’s students because they understand the hands-on skills and theory of welding.

“Getting good candidates for employment has been an ongoing challenge in some years more than others,” said Blair. “When the oil field is good, it is harder to get them. Everyone is busy.”

Blair said female welders can make a valuable contribution to the industry.  

“Women tend to be very good workers,” he said. “Women tend to focus a little more than the guys.”

Warfab Inc. in Hallsville and Longview hired a graduate of TSTC’s Welding Technology program earlier this year. The company specializes in forging-press work, heavy equipment, manufacturing and specialty welding services.

David Ocheltree, Warfab’s human resources manager, said the company looks for welders who have a combination of fabrication shop and field experience. He said while fabrication work is high quality, field work involves getting dirty and lifting heavy equipment.

“We take all forms of experience coming in here,” Ocheltree said. “We have some that come in with absolutely no experience whatsoever, to the person who has 20-plus years of welding. The person that comes in and wants to work at Warfab comes in as a cleaner or has a few tools, and we bring them in as a helper. They can work under an apprenticeship-type aspect.”

TSTC’s Marshall campus offers a Structural Welding certificate.

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TSTC Cyber Security Program Advises Caution When Upgrading Mobile Phones

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Consumers need to keep personal security in mind when transitioning to new mobile phones.

Amy Hertel, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Cyber Security program in Marshall, said people need to know that information on their mobile phones does not disappear. She advised people not to sell their old phones themselves because stored information can be easily interpreted by tech-savvy people.

“Until it is overwritten, it is there,” Hertel said. “If you hook it up to a computer and have the right software, you can pull that stuff right off.”

Some people will switch mobile service providers and keep their phone number when they buy new phones and stay in the same geographical area. This practice is known as porting, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 

The FCC recommends using personal pin numbers or passwords for mobile phone accounts to prevent people from “porting out” phone numbers. Scammers who get hold of a combination of phone numbers and personal information can intercept calls and get access to bank accounts, social media accounts, emails and other information accessed through mobile phones.

Hertel said the subscriber identity module (SIM) card can be moved from old to new phones. But, she said information is not actually stored on SIM cards because information is sent to a cloud-based system.

One of the most important things to do is keep up with mobile phone software updates, Hertel said.

“They do have security fixes tied into them,” she said. “The quicker you get an update, the safer you will be.”

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