Category Archives: Marshall

TSTC Student Motivated by Career Change

(MARSHALL, Texas) – D’Angelo Thomas of Longview made the commitment and stuck with it.

Thomas chose to attend Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus because he wanted to do something different in his life. He previously worked in the oil and gas field and was a commercial truck driver before enrolling.

He chose the Industrial Systems program because of its diversity of subjects. Students in the four-semester associate degree program learn about basic electrical theory, blueprint sketching, commercial wiring, compressors, pumps and other topics.

“I had some understanding about industrial systems coming from the oil field,” he said. “But in coming to TSTC and being in classes, it opened my eyes to more of how everything goes.”

Thomas is a candidate for graduation this spring with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization.

Thomas said he enjoyed learning about hydraulics and pneumatics and is grateful to TSTC’s staff for fitting in classes around his work schedule.

Edward Chaney, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program, said Thomas has been a wonderful student to teach.

“He has shared some of his past with me and he has been down some bad roads,” Chaney said. “He has turned all that around to do his best to be a good father and husband. He is very respectful and a joy to spend time with in or out of the classroom. He is always respectful.”

Thomas has worked for nine months at Advanced Technology Services Inc., which has a contract with TrinityRail in Longview. He uses equipment manuals and searches online to learn in-depth information on how the company’s machines operate.

Thomas said he and his co-workers are the ones who are called on to troubleshoot problems and get equipment back up and running. 

“Every piece of equipment is challenging, I would say,” he said.

Thomas grew up in Longview and he was active in sports at Longview High School. At that time of his life, college was not on his mind.

“As I got older, I started thinking more about things like that,” he said.

Motivation is easy for Thomas to find.

“It is my family, but I have just been the kind of person that always wants to do something,” he said.

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TSTC Student Builds on Work Ethic in Welding

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Dakota Smith of Gladewater learned early on the importance of a good work ethic, especially in a welding booth.

“Once I have something to do, that’s all I focus on until it is completed, and I do it to the best of my abilities,” she said.

Smith is scheduled to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology this spring from Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. She already has a structural welding certificate from TSTC’s Marshall campus.

“I was the only girl in my Certificate 1 class for welding,” she said. “I went above and beyond in a class of guys.”

Smith said TSTC Welding Technology instructors Rusty Hutcherson, Philip Miller and Patrick Reed, all of whom teach at the Marshall campus, are the best at what they do.

“She was probably the best student I have had, as far as the bookwork  goes, and one of the best welders too,” Miller said. “She once got every online objective — quizzes and tests — done for every class during the first week of classes.”

At first, Smith’s father did not like the idea of her becoming a welder. 

“I loved working outside with my dad growing up, and that (welding) was the one thing he never wanted me to do,” she said. “I am great at it, and he is very proud of me.”

Smith is a graduate of Gladewater High School. After graduation, she started as a nursing major at another college before changing her career path and making the switch to TSTC. 

“I picked TSTC because it is the best of the best in technical schools,” Smith said.

After finishing her associate degree, Smith wants to do welding or underwater welding as a member of the U.S. Navy.

“After being in at least four years, my plan is to go back to TSTC’s Marshall campus and get my structural and pipe welding certificate and work for Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview,” she said.

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Virtual events keep TSTC students engaged

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College students are facing a new challenge with online learning.

Michael LeRoux, coordinator of Retention Services for the West Texas campuses, said the staff wanted students to have a sense of normalcy. Through a brainstorming session with team members, LeRoux said the idea of a daily virtual experience was the way to go.

These experiences include Trivia Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, and discussions about what students face working at home.

“We are talking a lot about time management in what is our new normal,” LeRoux said. “We are doing things online that we did during our leadership luncheons. We had to adjust the approach by doing them online.”

Belinda Palomino, Harlingen’s Student Life and Engagement coordinator for TSTC, said students are wanting something positive to do with their time.

“We are there for the student experience on campus and wanted to keep that going in these times of uncertainty,” she said.

Eight students participated in the first Wellness Wednesday event, LeRoux said. However, as word spreads, he expects the numbers to grow.

There is an incentive for students, LeRoux said. Each student who signs in will have a chance to win prizes and shout-outs in future events.

There is also the chance to be the top campus. LeRoux said each of the 10 TSTC campuses is conducting virtual activities. But Wellness Wednesday is a statewide challenge. With the theme “Commit 2 B Fit,” students will have a chance to win prizes throughout the month.

“All students have to do is log 30 minutes of activity in order for it to count toward the challenge,” he said.

LeRoux and other staff members will send wellness tips and links to workout videos to help keep students active. One of the wellness tips was for students to do school work outside because, as LeRoux said, it can “break up the day.”

The experiences will vary by campus, and Palomino said Harlingen students can expect online hangouts with counselors, receiving positive messages. She said that a virtual movie night is in the works.

“With the different demographics, we are setting up each experience specific to where we are at,” Palomino said.

Fridays have been set aside as a virtual hangout for students just to talk about the week, LeRoux said.

“The students participating so far have really liked the activities,” he said. “We are getting some very positive feedback.”

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TSTC Employees in Marshall Recognized With Statewide Award

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Three employees at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus have been honored for their work and skills.

Angela Bross, Carol O’Reilly and Josh Stampley have received TSTC’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

“Josh is not just a top-notch instructor, but the backbone of Marshall’s SkillsUSA efforts,” said Bart Day, provost of TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Carol does so much of the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting. She possesses an absolute wealth of knowledge and epitomizes our core values every day. Angela’s approachability and genuine nature make such a difference for our students.”

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award began in 2001 and has been given to more than 300 TSTC employees statewide. Recipients are nominated by their peers for their work toward advancing the technical college’s mission.

“The teammates who win this award model excellence for us all and are recognized for both their sound character and for advancing TSTC’s mission,” said TSTC Chancellor & CEO Mike Reeser. “Due to their caring and dedicated efforts, TSTC continues to make a difference in the employment success of our students.” 

Bross lives in Avinger and began working at TSTC in April 2019 as the campus counselor.

“My motivation for my work is the students,” she said. “For me, it’s all about the students. I am also fortunate to have a wonderful team of people that I work with that continue to motivate me daily.”

Bross said she was surprised by her recognition.

“I feel so honored and privileged to be working with the staff and faculty not only on the Marshall campus, but with those I have the good fortune to work with.”

O’Reilly lives in Linden and is a campus senior administrative assistant. She has worked at TSTC for more than six years.

“I support up to 13 programs within Student Learning, as well as many faculty and staff on the Marshall campus, including a statewide department chair and associate provost,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly said she was happy to be nominated for the award by her co-workers.

Stampley lives in Marshall and has taught in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology program for more than three years. He said he enjoys teaching because he gets to experience students craving the knowledge their instructors have.

He said he is thankful and appreciative for the recognition.

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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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