Category Archives: Marshall

TSTC Industrial Systems Program Aims to Prepare Students for Work in East Texas

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Students graduating from Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program in Marshall leave with knowledge about commercial wiring, electrical theory, hydraulics, pneumatics and other topics.

“There is actually big money locally if the students want to stay local,” said Edward Chaney, a TSTC program instructor.

Texas had more than 11,100 electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians making an annual mean wage of $68,560 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The East Texas Council of Governments cited the Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Midland and Odessa areas as having the highest demand for workers. The top skills sought by employers include knowledge in forklift operation, repairs and power tools, along with communication skills and problem-solving. 

The labor statistics bureau predicts the number of jobs for electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians will rise to more than 127,000 by 2029.

Warfab Inc. in Hallsville and Longview specializes in forging-press work, heavy equipment, manufacturing and specialty welding services for the clean coal, mining, steel mill, offshore drilling, petrochemical, pipeline and power-generation industries.

“Sometimes we try an industrial maintenance person out as a machine operator, which is different from a machinist,” said Monica Coulter, Warfab’s human resources manager. “Machine operators operate the smaller, different kinds of equipment that is not quite as technical.”

Coulter said equipment maintenance is done mostly by workers in the field. She said the company hires machinists to run lathes, mills and other computer-aided equipment.

TSTC now offers a way for students to get a hands-on glimpse into the program. The Basic Industrial Systems – Electrical occupational skills award features three classes in basic electrical theory, commercial wiring and motor controls that can be taken in one semester.

“It is going to take a dedicated student to complete it,” Chaney said. “The OSA will be labor-intensive.”

Registration for the spring semester begins November 16.

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TSTC’s Workforce Training Department Offers Funding for Learning

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training department has $15,000 available for workforce training at qualifying East Texas businesses. .

The department has about six months to use the money from the Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program, or it will be returned to the state.

“With the financial opportunities that face businesses in today’s market, especially in the current COVID-19 environment, usually the first thing that gets trimmed out of the budget is training,” said Kori Bowen, TSTC’s interim director of special projects in the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “In this case, these are funds made available by the state of Texas that are allocated for training.”

The money can be used by East Texas businesses with less than 100 employees to receive training through TSTC in electrical theory, Microsoft Office programs, welding and other skills. Training can be done online when possible, with hands-on lessons being done using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.

Training can start within 30 days of contacting TSTC’s Workforce Training department.

“Anything that closes any kind of performance gaps, we can do that,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of Workforce Training.  

TSTC and the commission have a strong history of working together to teach Texans the skills they need to be successful.

“Via an array of state-sponsored programs, TWC and TSTC partner together to initiate, design and execute opportunities for industry partners that will open the door for training opportunities and ultimately strengthen the Texas economy,” Bowen said.

The TWC’s Skills for Small Business program uses about $2 million from the Skills Development Fund. The program funds training for full-time employees and must be done through a technical or community college in Texas or through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

For more information on the TWC Skills for Small Business funding, contact TSTC’s Workforce Training department at 903-923-3374. 

TSTC Alum’s Dream Lives on at TSTC

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College now has a tangible reminder of an alumnus, thanks to a generous gift.

 Rick Berry had a heart as big as the outdoors, where he loved to hunt and fish.

 The resident of Carthage, Texas, grew up traveling throughout Greece and the Middle East with his father, who was in the oil industry, and graduated from the American School in Aberdeen, Scotland.

 Eventually Berry found his way to TSTC’s Marshall campus, where in 2009 he earned associate degrees in Computer Aided Drafting and Computer Aided Manufacturing.

 Later he dreamed of opening his own firearms manufacturing facility. Among his purchases for the nascent business was a Gunsmithing Gearhead Lathe made by Grizzly Industrial Inc.

 But soon his dream began to fade.

 “Before he was able to start his business, he started getting sick,” said his wife, Sarah.

 Berry died in 2018 at just 51 years of age.

 Sarah Berry began looking for a new home for the lathe, which was valued at nearly $6,000 and still in its original carton.

 “After he passed away and we had to move, I had no place to put it,” she said.

 Her thoughts turned to TSTC. She worked with Blake Cox, The TSTC Foundation’s field development officer for East Texas, to donate the lathe to the college.

 “It is a huge help to the program in what we are doing and trying to be as safe as we can,” Cox said. “It is an extra piece of equipment that will serve a great purpose. We want to let (the Berry family) know we are very grateful for this.”

 Danny Nixon, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, taught Berry and admired his intellect.

 “He was a big guy, and he was a teddy bear when it came to getting to know him,” Nixon said. “He had a generous heart.”

 The program’s faculty will use the lathe in manual machining classes, Nixon said. He added that the lathe means more students can take classes.

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Sulphur Springs Student Perseveres in Studies at TSTC

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Kyle Hudgins of Sulphur Springs is motivated by waking up every day to do something new.

“I get ready to add to the knowledge I have already gained and get a better understanding of the work we do and how each component functions,” he said.

Hudgins is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems –  Electrical Specialization at Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus. Some of the topics he is learning about include basic electrical theory, hydraulics, industrial maintenance and pumps.

“This program is full of hands-on labs and instructors that genuinely want to see you excel,” he said. “If you don’t understand something, they are there to make sure you fully grasp the concept to the full extent.”

Hudgins likes the program because it enables workers to be a jack-of-all trades in the workplace.

“It has endless limits; it is just up to you to fulfill them,” he said.

Edward Chaney, lead instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program in Marshall, admired Hudgins’ resilience last spring when the campus shifted to a hybrid instructional format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He never griped or complained but instead used the opportunity to rise above,” Chaney said. “He was part of a group of a few students who joined together to meet and go over the online material before presenting their questions to me through Google Hangouts. He took everything in stride and adapted to the new delivery system. His adaptability is a testament to what a true technician needs to be.”

Hudgins is a graduate of Sulphur Springs High School. Before he came to TSTC, he was studying business accounting at another college and working as a bank teller.

“I quickly realized that sitting in an office all day wasn’t my cup of tea,” Hudgins said. “My neighbor had recently graduated from the Industrial Systems program at TSTC when I ran into him. He gave me a rundown of the classes he had taken and how much he liked it. The diversity of jobs you can get with this degree was exactly what I was looking for.”

After his scheduled graduation in December, Hudgins wants to work in the Sulphur Springs area. But, he said he is keeping his job prospects open.

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TSTC Computer Programming Technology Program Trains Students for East Texas Jobs

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Computer Programming Technology program can be confident about the job market for years to come.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected there will be more than 741,000 jobs for computer user support specialists and more than 1.7 million jobs for software developers by 2029.

“Computers have become a very big part of everyone’s life, especially since COVID-19 forced so many to work from home,” said Phyllis Hollingshead, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology program. “Computers are only capable of doing what they do because programmers have programmed them to do so.”

Students are placed in internships during their last semester in the program. Hollingshead said many of the internships convert to full-time jobs.

“We teach what is relevant to the market today,” she said. “We use the latest software for our courses.”

Ashton Armstrong of Waskom graduated from the program last summer with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Programming Technology and Microsoft Office certifications. He did an internship at iClassPro in Longview before being hired as a customer support representative. He said the job involves a lot of problem-solving and communicating solutions to customers throughout the world.

“Most of what I do is take calls, emails and chats from my company’s customers looking for any kind of assistance they need with the software we have,” Armstrong said. “I do a lot of testing on our software and different things our customers report to our support team in general.”

Another company that employs TSTC graduates is SEVEN Networks in Marshall. The company develops innovative software solutions that deliver device-centric mobile traffic management and analytics for wireless carriers.

“The graduates that we have hired from TSTC have exceeded our expectations and are just as knowledgeable and prepared as other programmers from four-year universities,” said Keyvan Shahrdar, SEVEN Networks’ director of product management and director of operations. “Computer programming is a growing field, and the starting salaries are well over $50,000. Computer programming is a good career field to get into.”

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program Plans to Revamp Certificate Curriculum

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Students in Texas State Technical College’s Cybersecurity program will have another option available to make themselves more marketable starting next summer.

Students who graduate with the Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity can choose to pursue a Digital Forensics Specialist advanced technical certificate. The certificate has traditionally been offered in Waco, but an updated curriculum is being expanded to other TSTC campuses with Cybersecurity programs: Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas and Williamson County. 

The Cybersecurity program is offered online, with the updated certificate program soon to follow.

“When a student logs in, they could be getting any Cybersecurity instructor statewide,” said Amy Hertel, a TSTC Cybersecurity program instructor. “We have spread out the classes so we are all a team now.”

Graduates can go on to become digital forensics analysts or forensic computer examiners, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These jobs can fall under the umbrella of forensic science technicians, which had a median annual wage of $59,150 in May 2019, according to the agency. 

The need for digital forensic science technicians is projected to rise nationally to about 19,600 jobs up to 2029, according to the bureau. 

Some of East Texas’ larger law enforcement agencies, such as the Longview Police Department and the Tyler Police Department, have employees who work with digital forensics.

Chris Taylor, a detective at the Longview Police Department, said cybersecurity is a small part of his work. He said most of his work involves robbery and murder cases.

“Technology is designed to make our lives better, but not always easier when it comes to attempting to extract data from them in a forensically sound manner,” he said. 

Dennis Mathews, a detective at the Tyler Police Department, said people entering the field should know about logical data structures used in computers and mobile devices, operating systems and file systems.

“With the increasing capacity of mobile devices and computers, the time it takes to conduct a forensic investigation can vary greatly,” he said. “Some phones have taken over nine hours to extract the data, while others only take 15 minutes. Computers with terabytes of memory can take days or weeks to extract and review the data.”

Mathews said patience and the ability to handle problems as they arise are also good qualities to have to do the work.

“Being able to extract the data from the electronic devices is the first challenging step,” he said. “Parsing and carving through the evidence is the next challenge, but totally worth it when you find the evidence needed to make a solid case or exonerate someone who is not guilty.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety’s hiring process for digital forensic science examiner jobs in the DPS Crime Lab is competitive, according to information from the agency’s media and communications office. The agency considers hiring applicants with professional experience but can train potential employees in its internal training program. The state crime lab handles cases ranging from theft to capital murder. 

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TSTC to Offer Statewide Online Microsoft Office Training

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training department is offering a second round of online Microsoft Office courses, this time for statewide residents.

“I think employers should view this course as a cost-effective and time-conscious way to provide training to their employees on software that they are likely already using,” said Haley Chapman, an instructor in TSTC’s Business Management Technology program in Marshall.

The training will be broken down into three weeks of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word. Chapman will teach lessons using the Cengage learning platform. 

“I think one of the big selling points of this course is its flexibility,” Chapman said. “This course is appropriate for employees at a variety of different levels of experience with Microsoft suites.”

Tuition for the course will depend on the number of people signing up for the courses. Ten people will be included in every online training cohort. 

Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of Workforce Training, said the cost range should be between $350 and $450. Hughes said Workforce Training staff can assist eligible employers in securing small business funding from the Texas Workforce Commission to pay for employee training. 

“It (the funding) is designed for companies with less than 100 people,” Hughes said. “This kind of course would fall into that.”

The training follows a round of successful Microsoft Office instruction that began in July with more than 20 people.

“The feedback I’m receiving from the current course ranges from students saying they are learning new skills that they didn’t know they could perform with the software they already have,  to students saying they are freshening up on skills they forgot they had,” Chapman said.

For more information on the Microsoft Office training, contact TSTC’s Workforce Training department at 903-923-3374.

TSTC Design Program Gets New Name, Curriculum

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology program has a new name and focus for the fall.

The program will shift to an all-online format with virtual labs. Josh Stampley, a program instructor, said faculty will use TSTC’s Moodle platform and Microsoft Whiteboard for teaching and interacting with students.

The revamped curriculum will emphasize two-dimensional and three-dimensional architectural, civil and mechanical drafting. 

“We give our students enough knowledge in each of these fields where they would be successful finding a job in the discipline they enjoy the most once they graduate,” said Samuel Pizano, TSTC’s statewide chair for the Drafting and Design Technology Department. “This also allows for our graduates to become more versatile CAD (computer aided drafting) technicians with a wide variety of skills they will be able to showcase in industry.”

The program will offer for the first time an Occupational Skills Award in Basic Computer Aided Drafting. Students will take three classes to complete the award in about four months.

“This is for a person who might have been doing a little drafting and needs more expertise,” Stampley said. “Hopefully this can pique an interest in getting the associate degree.”

Students will have access to AutoCAD, Autodesk, Civil 3D, Revit, Solid Works and Lumion software.

“Students can elect to learn additional softwares, such as ArcGIS Desktop and Plant 3D, depending on the specialization route they chose to follow,” Pizano said. “Along with gaining experience with these drafting and design softwares, students will be exposed to the different industry standards for the architectural, civil and mechanical drafting and design disciplines, including projects created to mimic real-world industry blueprints and designs.”

Cathy Boldt, associate director of professional development for the American Institute of Architects’ Dallas chapter, said when the economy is strong there is a demand for workers with experience in architectural design graphics.

“At this time, many of the architecture firms have had projects put on hold or cancelled, resulting in layoffs at those firms,” Boldt said. “This means the market is currently flooded with individuals who are experienced and who may be willing to do this type of job rather than have no job. The question is their level of expertise in today’s technologies.” 

Texas had more than 11,200 architectural and civil drafters in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual mean wage was more than $57,000. The Arlington-Dallas-Fort Worth area had the largest concentration of workers with more than 4,000. The Longview area had about 60 workers.

Pizano said program faculty recommends students apply for jobs in the drafting area they feel most confident and comfortable in.

“We have successfully placed our students in drafting and design careers across the state of Texas and we consistently have companies reaching out to us who are interested in hiring our students,” he said. “We have noticed a high demand for CAD technicians in the state of Texas which continues to to hold strong even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Jobs for architectural and civil drafters are projected to rise to more than 103,000 by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency attributes this to new jobs in the construction and engineering sectors.

Registration continues for the fall semester.

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TSTC Ready to Welcome Students Back This Fall in Marshall

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Students attending Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus will see differences in how they learn and interact as they start the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 31.

Nathan Cleveland, TSTC’s associate provost, said students will notice lots of signage pertaining to campus health and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will also see directional signs for building entrances and exits.

Furniture has been removed from popular gathering spots for students in the Administration Building and South Building.

“It is hard to manage and watch over that to where they are minding their spacing,” Cleveland said.

One of the biggest changes is how classes will be taught, which first began being modified in mid-March.

The college’s first-semester college readiness class and academic courses will be taught online.

Programs that will be taught in an all-online format are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Business Management Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Computer Programming Technology and Cybersecurity.

“The instructors are actually holding virtual classrooms through Google Meet or Webex, so the students have a class they meet for,” Cleveland said.

Programs that will be taught in a hybrid format are Automation and Controls Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Industrial Systems, Precision Machining Technology, Process Operations and Welding Technology.

Tutoring will be available virtually. Students will need to go to TSTC’s student portal and click on the tutoring icon to fill out a form requesting help. Tutoring staff will connect students virtually to statewide tutors in their subject area.

Cleveland said students can come to campus by appointment when needed to meet with instructors. Faculty members will also have virtual office hours. Campus visitors will only be allowed in the Administration Building.

The campus bookstore will be fully operational only for the campus community. Discussions continue about whether to open, even partially, the campus Learning Resource Center. Cleveland said students can use the campus Wi-Fi from their vehicles parked near the buildings.

Students will encounter a different campus residential experience this fall.

“Campus housing will be following statewide protocols, with social distancing and no visitation during COVID-19,” said TSTC’s Director II of Student Life Hubert Staten. “We plan to use email, texting and phone to communicate during this time. Online activities are planned also. We want to keep housing as safe as possible.”

One thing that has not changed is the college’s commitment to its students.

TSTC’s Career Services will hold weekly online workshops for students to learn about a range of subjects, from resume writing to interview skills.

“The interview practicum and the Industry Job Fair for the fall semester will be virtual,” said Hannah Luce, Career Services’ director of planning and special events. “As of now, we will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, and this is subject to change at any time, but we will still be available virtually anytime the students need assistance.”

Registration for the fall semester continues.

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TSTC Welding Technology Program in Marshall Ready to Welcome Students This Fall

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology program will continue to teach in a hybrid format this fall. Students will listen to lectures online and participate in hands-on labs on campus.

“Welding is by far one of our most popular programs, and it’s easy to see why,” said Barton Day, provost at TSTC’s Marshall campus. “Employment opportunities remain strong. The starting pay is terrific. And let’s face it, it’s truly an art form. If you have a creative side, this might be right up your alley.”

The campus offers a structural welding certificate, and this fall it will debut a structural and pipe welding certificate.

“I think the advanced pipe course is going to make this one of the most productive semesters ever,” said Philip Miller, a TSTC Welding Technology program instructor. “I am excited to see our returning students take the skills they have learned to new levels.”

Monica Pfarr, executive director of the American Welding Society Foundation in Miami, said the skill sets in high demand in Texas are gas metal arc welding and gas tungsten arc welding. She said most welding jobs in Texas are in the architectural and structural metals manufacturing sector.

“We are doing all we can to promote the careers in the industry,” Pfarr said. “It’s not just welders, but also technicians, inspectors and engineers are in high demand. We are doing what we can to really change the perception of the occupation.”

There is a demand for workers to fill welding jobs in East Texas. Rush Harris, director of business services at the Marshall Economic Development Corp., said pipeline companies, manufacturers and small metal facilities need welders and millwrights.

“Employment for welders is relatively stable, with a slight overall decline of -0.3% yearly over the next 10 years,” Harris said. “The replacement of exits and transfers will be important to maintain an adequate welder demand in the labor force over the next 10 years.”

Harris said there is a need now for more than 200 welders within a 45-minute radius of Marshall. The average annual wage for welders in the area is at least $43,000, he said.

As of this writing, showed that Worley in Longview had job openings for a structural welder, a pipefitter and a pipefitter helper. The Australia-based company specializes in construction, engineering and procurement for the chemical, mining, minerals and power sectors.

“We continue to see growth in the demand for craft professionals,” said Carol Peters, Worley’s external communications and media manager. “However, qualified welders remain hard to find. Collaborative partnerships with academia, government, contractors and business owners are crucial in building a solid base of skilled workers for the future. The time to accelerate training is now.”

The company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the use of technology in its hiring process, improving communication processes with employees and their families, and using an online project-staffing system that publishes internal and external employment opportunities.

Texas had more than 50,000 workers earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,000 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Woodlands-Houston-Sugar Land area had the highest concentration of workers in the state with more than 18,000, while the Longview area had more than 1,000 workers.

Jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers are projected to rise to more than 439,000 up to 2028, according to the labor bureau. This is attributed to repairs being made to the nation’s infrastructure and construction on pipelines and power generation facilities.

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