Category Archives: Marshall

East Texas industrial systems jobs are ready for TSTC graduates

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Rush Harris, executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corp., said the need for industrial systems workers is being seen right now. 

Harris said he recently has spoken with two companies that need new workers. He said more than 20 companies in Harrison County and surrounding counties are searching for industrial systems employees.

This means job opportunities for graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization in Marshall.

Edward Chaney, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Industrial Systems Technology program, said students focus on an array of skills in hands-on labs. Some of the classes taught in Marshall focus on basic hydraulics, basic electrical theory, compressors, and programmable logic controllers.

“Our students in Marshall are given a heavy dose of electrical skills but are also backed up with the mechanical skills needed to tie the two together and make a well-rounded technician,” Chaney said.

He said the goal is for students to experience as much as they can about the work they will encounter after graduation.

“We don’t have near enough students to be able to fill the demand for good technicians,” Chaney said. “With an Industrial Systems Technology skill set, graduates have plenty of options available for placement, so the jobs are out there.”

Harris said industrial systems, like other technical fields, will see many workers retiring and newer employees needed to fill positions in the next few years.

“This creates an excellent opportunity for a high school graduate to move on and get an accessible two-year education specializing in industrial systems, where they will likely earn well above the median household income in Marshall,” Harris said. “These skills are in demand and can be learned for a reasonable price that allows a single person to make more money than most combined households bring in.”

The highest-paying career in the industrial systems field in the third quarter of 2020 in the East Texas Council of Governments’ 14-county region was electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay, with those workers earning an annual mean wage of $70,800.

Harris said in the Marshall area, there are more than 2,100 workers in jobs that involve industrial systems. Their annual wages can be as high as $66,000, depending on industry and occupation.

TSTC’s Marshall campus offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization and an Industrial Systems Mechanic – Electrical certificate. Students have the opportunity to earn an Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 technician certification for handling refrigerants.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters continues at Texas State Technical College. For more information, go to

Area electric cooperatives look to TSTC for employees

(MARSHALL, Texas) – East Texas electric cooperatives often look to Texas State Technical College’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Marshall as a source for well-trained workers. 

“In most cases, cooperatives are relatively small in size, so they do not have the capacity to take large numbers of students semester after semester, though they are in the same situation as many other larger power providers that have an aging workforce,” said Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Distribution and Industrial Electrical Systems department.

The Bowie-Cass, Cherokee County and Panola-Harrison electric cooperatives are some that  have hired recent Electrical Lineworker Technology program graduates, according to information from TSTC’s Career Services office. 

The Wood County Electric Cooperative in Quitman has also hired TSTC graduates in the past.

“I always look for someone who is interested and eager to learn,” said Ramon Steward, Wood County’s director of operations. “I want to hire hands-on type individuals who don’t mind taking instruction and are willing to try new things.”

Diana Hall, Wood County’s director of human resources, said the cooperative’s guiding principles help attract the right workers.

“Today, electricity enables everything from lifegiving sustenance to comfort to fun,” Hall said. “The workers we seek can recognize that fact, and the great responsibility of it.”

Carithers said he wants to see more partnerships with the state’s electric cooperatives so they can hire TSTC graduates from their service areas.

The need for electrical power-line installers and repairers is projected to rise to more than 116,000 workers by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth is attributed to commercial and residential growth.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters continues at TSTC. For more information, go to 

TSTC graduate stays in East Texas to work

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Hector Ramirez is glad to continue going to college while working in East Texas. 

Ramirez, a Gilmer resident, graduated from Texas State Technical College in 2018 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization. He returned to TSTC’s Marshall campus to earn an associate degree in Automation and Controls Technology in 2020.

He is currently enrolled at The University of Texas at Tyler, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a minor in business.

“I didn’t have to go out of state,” he said. “I still get to see my family and friends, work, and not get into debt.”

Ramirez is putting his skills to good use, working in industrial maintenance at Republic Elite in Marshall. 

“You see something different every day,” he said. “It is a cabinet company, and there is a lot of dust. You will get a lot of electrical problems. You have to change out motors and bearings. The equipment we work on is from Germany, so it is interesting seeing the prints.”

Ramirez said skilled technicians like him are vital to ensuring companies’ smooth operations like the one where he works.

“Maintenance is the backbone of companies,” he said. “If you cannot fix a machine by the end of the day or week, the assembly line could shut down. It is important and interesting to me how it all works and makes the company run.”

Ramirez said his two associate degrees make a good combination. He said some of his favorite classes focused on electrical troubleshooting, hydraulics, and pneumatics.

Edward Chaney, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Industrial Systems program, said Ramirez is the kind of student that faculty in the program crave.

“Hector was the type of student that was willing to put forth the effort to learn as much as he could,” Chaney said. “When assignments were delivered, Hector was always willing to help other students in the class.”

Ramirez was born in the state of Queretaro in Mexico. He and his family came to the United States days before he started sixth grade and settled in Gilmer, where they still reside.

“It was tough,” Ramirez said. “We didn’t speak any English at the time. They almost held me back that year because the teachers were suggesting it was for the best. For some reason, they didn’t. I went to seventh grade and started picking up being able to communicate better.”

Registration continues for the summer and fall semesters at TSTC. For more information, go to

TSTC and Marshall ISD offer dual enrollment opportunities to high school students

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Marshall High School juniors and seniors are being encouraged to think about their futures beyond graduation.

Dual enrollment classes through Texas State Technical College and the Marshall Independent School District’s Mav Tech program are one way to do that.

“Our main focus is to increase the numbers in dual enrollment,” said Garreth Durrant, MISD’s career and technical education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) coordinator. “I would say the challenge is being able to allocate the funding to get more students enrolled and participating in dual enrollment.”

Marshall High School students are taking TSTC classes this year online in the Business Management Technology and Health Information Technology programs, as well as in person on TSTC’s Marshall campus for the Diesel Equipment Technology and Welding Technology programs.

“The Mav Tech program does continue to gain interest, and presents a terrific opportunity for students to explore careers in STEM fields,” said Barton Day, provost of TSTC’s Marshall campus. “We continue to work alongside MISD partners to increase awareness of these very affordable head starts to college completion and great careers.”

Durrant said the goal of the Mav Tech students is to graduate from high school with dual credit hours or complete a certificate awarded by TSTC.

“They are getting a lot out of it,” he said. “There are challenges. The challenges are simply based on the maturity level of the students. They have to want to do it.”

Durrant said the school district designated a computer lab at the high school for students to take online TSTC classes. Dual enrollment classes are included in the students’ schedules so that they have designated times and days to be in the lab.

TSTC and the school district announced the initiative in 2017. Technical programs are chosen to fit in with the high school’s career clusters that students are grouped into.

Durrant said he and Kadie Svrcek, TSTC’s dual enrollment recruitment representative, have worked to let the high school students know about the array of technical programs available to them.  Durrant said the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down plans that the entities already had to promote Mav Tech.

“I can see eventually things are going to pick up and things are going to get better,” Durrant said.

TSTC is also working with the Longview Independent School District, Panola Charter Schools, Queen City Independent School District and Waskom Independent School District to offer dual enrollment opportunities for students this year. These are separate from the Mav Tech initiative.

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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.

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TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program and AEP Foundation celebrate financial pledge

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Leaders from Texas State Technical College and Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) recently gathered in Marshall to celebrate a financial pledge made through The TSTC Foundation to TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

The American Electric Power Foundation has pledged $100,000 to the program to help ease the financial burdens of students in need, enabling them to complete the program’s associate degree and/or certificate of completion. The AEP Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units, including SWEPCO. The first $50,000 of the contribution has been received, with an additional $50,000 gift planned for 2022. The gift adds to an existing endowment that the foundation created a few years ago.

“We are exceptionally grateful for AEP’s outstanding support of our Electrical Lineworker Technology program and the great benefit this gift brings to the students,” said Barton Day, provost of TSTC in Marshall.

Riley Hodges, lead instructor in TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program in Marshall, said the endowment can help students who might leave TSTC due to program costs.

Wade Cumbie, of Carthage, is pursuing an associate degree in the Electrical Lineworker Technology program and is scheduled to graduate this semester. He said he is happy that the AEP Foundation’s gift will help future program students at the Marshall campus long after he is working in the industry.

“It’s a big deal for people who cannot afford the program,” Cumbie said. “The work we do is very fun. It is about the friendships you have with the guys. The instructors are very good.”

Bryan K. Blanton, Distribution System manager for SWEPCO’s Longview district, said about 50 Electrical Lineworker Technology graduates from Marshall have been hired by SWEPCO in the last four years. Blanton said graduates start off in a four-month internship, then go into a three- to four-year apprenticeship program to progress into becoming an electrical journeyman.

“We have had huge success with being able to hire students that are from the area where we are trying to place positions,” Blanton said.

Blanton also is chair of the Electrical Lineworker Technology program’s advisory board in Marshall. The advisory board is made up of industry personnel who give input on what students need to learn to match what is being done in industry.

“The program’s curriculum is in line with AEP’s curriculum, and this is a huge benefit because the students come out of the program with the knowledge that we need them to have,” Blanton said.

Mark A. Robinson, SWEPCO’s external affairs manager in Longview, said the electrical lineworker industry continues to see people move into less physical jobs or retire as they get older. Newer workers will be needed.

“What we are seeing in our community is almost an expectation that some go to college, and for some, a four-year degree may not be right,” Robinson said. “They (students) are being encouraged to go toward a certificate or two-year degree. They can stay in the community, get a high-quality education, go to college and go into the workforce.”

To motivate people to pursue the electrical lineworker field, it will take entities partnering together to promote technical education.

“TSTC and AEP are essential partners in economic development,” said Rush Harris, chief executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corp. “Our EDC is proud to have them both in the community. This is a very generous contribution by AEP that provides additional opportunities to our area’s youth and future workforce.”

TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology program is a Money-Back Guarantee program. Students who sign up for the program with a 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.

The Ohio-based AEP Foundation works in AEP’s 11-state service region to support education in the areas of engineering, mathematics, science and technology. The foundation also works to support cultural arts, the environment, health care and quality-of-life efforts.

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Carthage resident secures job before TSTC graduation

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Micah Johnson, of Carthage, looks forward not only to graduating this semester from Texas State Technical College, but also to starting work shortly thereafter as an instrumentation technician at Phillips 66’s Sweeny Refinery in Brazoria County.

“I’m excited for sure,” Johnson said. “It is something new. It is going to take me out of my comfort zone a little bit, but I am ready. I am due for something else, a different environment.”

Johnson is scheduled to graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automation and Controls Technology from TSTC’s Marshall campus. The program teaches students about calibration, computer instrumentation, engineering design, programmable logic controllers, robotics interfacing, and maintenance and troubleshooting.

“My instructors are really good at what they do,” Johnson said. “They are knowledgeable and have the answer to pretty much any questions you have.”

Douglas Clark, an instructor in TSTC’s Automation and Controls Technology program, said Johnson comes to class ready to learn and sometimes helps his classmates when they need guidance in understanding class material.

“When I first met Micah, I could tell right away that he was a kind, courteous, respectful young man and possessed a strong moral compass,” Clark said. “That came across in his demeanor.”

Johnson applied for a job at Phillips 66 last fall before noticing the company would be part of TSTC’s virtual industry job fair. He did a short informal interview with company human resources staff and a plant manager during the online event. He later received an email from the company indicating that they were interested in learning more about him.

Johnson went through a series of virtual and in-person interviews, along with a refinery tour late last fall, before being offered a job shortly after Christmas. He is scheduled to finish the hiring process in April and start work in May.

“I am sure they (Phillips 66) saw in him the same thing I saw when I first met him,” Clark said. 

After graduating from Carthage High School, Johnson took general studies classes at a local college but was unsure of what he wanted to do. He also got a job as a helper at an automation and measurement company.

Johnson’s cousin, Jarod Blissett, was attending TSTC’s Marshall campus to study in the Industrial Controls Technology program, the predecessor to the Automation and Controls Technology program.

“He would run me through what they were looking at and show me the assignments they were working on at school,” Johnson said. “It was really interesting.”

Johnson’s cousin motivated him to enroll at TSTC. He even arranged for Clark to meet Johnson and give him a tour of the campus.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that there will be a need for 15,100 electromechanical technicians by 2029. In Texas, electromechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians made an annual mean wage of $56,750 in May 2019, according to the federal agency.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC’s CPT program trains graduates for in-demand jobs

(MARSHALL, Texas) – The future of Texas State Technical College’s Computer Programming Technology program is shining as bright as a laptop screen.

Last spring, the program moved all of its classes online. Due to this, the college’s programs that were physically on five of TSTC’s campuses combined into one statewide unit. This means instructors are not tethered to one geographic campus to teach, but rather can work with students online from throughout Texas.

Phyllis Hollingshead, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology program, said she is teaching 60 students this semester in the Introduction to C++ Programming class.

“Now that we have moved fully online, I feel the program will grow,” she said. “Computer programmers are needed everywhere, even in East Texas.”

The East Texas Council of Governments, which encompasses 14 counties, had more than 1,400 software and web developers, programmers and testers that made a median annual wage of $87,100 as of the second quarter of 2020. There were more than 800 computer and information analysts making a median annual wage of $71,500 in the same period.

“Students willing to move to Austin, Dallas or Houston can make even more,” Hollingshead said.

Shannon Ferguson, statewide lead instructor in TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology program, said Citibank and Texas Farm Bureau are among the companies that have hired the college’s graduates in the past.

Ferguson is excited about the statewide Computer Programming Technology and Web Design and Development Technology programs taking part in the Austin Technology Council. The council focuses on supporting business and professional growth, providing networking and business mentoring opportunities and giving public policy representation to the tech industry.

“We hope to promote our graduates and get them into companies in that area,” Ferguson said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC Student Uses Her Education to Advance in Workplace

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Natasha Davis had a stable job at the company where she enjoys working, but she knew she needed to learn more.

She chose to attend Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus to further her education and earn increased responsibilities at her employer, Conterra Networks in Longview. She continued to work full time while attending classes.

Davis is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration at TSTC. She completes her studies this month.

“As I took my classes at TSTC, it was explained to me how the things I have been privy to came to be and how it works,” she said. “It is exciting to relate the information I was learning to what I already knew.”

Amy Hertel, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program, taught Davis in some of her classes.

“It is not enough for her to just complete assignments; she wants to understand how everything works, take notes, take time to study and push herself,” Hertel said.

Davis was recently promoted from working in customer service to assisting customers in the company’s 24-hour network operations center. The work involves giving troubleshooting assistance for internet, ethernet and phone services.

“I have already talked to my new boss about what kind of things I can do to progress in my career and what kind of things that come in hand in the position I am in,” she said. “This is really just a starting point.”

Davis said she knows it can be a rarity for someone seeking telecommunications assistance to hear a woman giving guidance.

“It is hilarious to hear their reactions,” she said. “They are not trying to be biased, but they are thrown off.”

Davis said her career advice for other women is to stand out in the workplace, be dependable and make connections.

“You want to build relationships with everybody so they feel a sense of community,” she said. “They feel like they are a part of something bigger when they talk to you.”

Due to the pandemic, TSTC’s Marshall campus is having a virtual graduation celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, on the TSTC in Marshall Facebook page.

Graduates can pick up their “Grad Swag” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, at the campus’ Administration Building.

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TSTC Candidate for Graduation Helps Keep Jefferson ISD Secure

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Jasmonae’ Mosby grew up in San Augustine, where she began doing external repairs to people’s smartphones while in high school.

“For some reason my phone would always mess up. So I ended up repairing screens, and that is what drew me,” she said. “I started getting my own clients at home. I thought if I could do that on phones, I could do it with computers.”

Mosby is a candidate for graduation for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus. She will complete her studies this month.

“Jasmonae’ is the kind of student who stands out in a crowd,” said Amy Hertel, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program in Marshall. 

Mosby chose TSTC because it was close to her hometown and was affordable. She was one of the few women in her classes.

“Growing up, I have always been with guys, and it just became a natural thing,” she said. “It didn’t bother me at all.”

Mosby got an internship earlier this year at the Jefferson Independent School District’s information technology department. The internship turned into a full-time job. The department’s staff handles preventive maintenance and work orders submitted by district employees.

“I love working here,” she said. “I get exposed to various things, especially those that are hands-on.”

Mosby’s advice for women interested in pursuing the networking field is to have a passion for the work.

Due to the pandemic, TSTC’s Marshall campus is having a virtual graduation celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, on the TSTC in Marshall Facebook page.

Graduates can pick up their complimentary “Grad Swag” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, at the campus Administration Building.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to