Category Archives: North Texas

Area Residents to Benefit From TSTC Scholarships

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus is using the generosity of two donors to help Midlothian-area residents further their education.

The Midlothian Economic Development Corp. recently made the final contribution in a three-year giving cycle to fund the Midlothian Workforce/Careers Scholarship.

The $30,000 scholarship fund will be divided into $1,000 TSTC scholarships for area residents who live within the boundaries of the Midlothian Independent School District and are high school graduates or have General Educational Development certificates.

TSTC Provost Marcus Balch credited Larry Barnett, a former MEDC executive director and current member of The TSTC Foundation’s board of directors, for helping to bring the campus and Midlothian together.

“He really took an interest in us and connected us to a number of industry partners, city officials, and school officials,” Balch said. “It has just been an all-around good partnership from a connection standpoint.”

Another recent scholarship contribution came from Colten Crist, advertising and operations director of the Midlothian Mirror and Waxahachie Daily Light. He contributed $1,500 for scholarships for students who graduated this year from any of Ellis County’s 15 high schools to attend TSTC’s North Texas campus. Three students will receive $500 each, Crist said.

The inspiration for making the financial gift came from the for-profit Best of All-Ellis County Preps sports banquet held virtually this year. The second annual event honored high school athletes at the county’s high schools.

Crist said he felt last year’s event was missing a contribution to the community, so he reached out to Balch and talked about TSTC’s importance to the county.

“I really like TSTC and what they do, honestly,” Crist said. “I think it is something that is extremely needed in our educational system.”

TSTC’s enrollment coaches will tag students in TSTC’s registration system as potential scholarship recipients. The scholarships will be awarded once students register for classes.

For more information on how to make a gift to TSTC, go to

TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Computer networkers keep people connected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Hosts Drive-In Celebration for Spring Graduates

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus  honored its spring graduates Friday with a drive-in celebration.

“Our students have persevered through a very hard situation, so we wanted to commend them for their efforts,” said Tara Odom, TSTC’s campus enrollment executive. “We are so proud of each one of them.”

Instructors dressed in academic regalia lined the entrance to campus and cheered for graduates and their relatives. Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, gave each graduate a diploma cover, a pizza and a TSTC alumni bag. The actual diplomas and certificates have been mailed to graduates.

“Moving forward, I do not think there would be anything that could stop this group,” Balch said.

Graduates and their families had the opportunity to take photos in front of a TSTC-themed backdrop. 

Instructors were happy to see their students move forward in their lives.

“This is a mere stepping-stone toward your future and career,” said Elisha Vaughan, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program. “Never lose sight of the things you worked so hard for in your past and the target of your goal in your future.”

Douglas McCuen, lead instructor in TSTC’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program, said graduates will do their best if they enjoy what they do.

“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world,” he said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Industrial Systems program offers a diversity of classes for TSTC students

(ABILENE, Texas) – The Industrial Systems program at Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Technology Center in Abilene offers a diverse curriculum for students.

Instructor Daniel Diaz said students learn different aspects of industrial systems, from hydraulics and electronics to welding and small engine repair.

“We have had students get jobs with the wind industry, prisons and hospitals,” Diaz said. “We teach a lot of different facets, and that helps students in the job market. No matter what the market is doing, we will train students with the skills they need to go where they want to.”

During the three-semester program for the Industrial Systems Mechanic certificate, students perform industry-standard safety procedures, learn mechanical and electrical skills, perfect diagnostic techniques, and read and interpret schematics. In addition, students work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers and programmable logic controllers.

Current students returned to the Abilene facility this month to complete required lab sessions. Diaz said students are practicing social distancing and have adapted to new safety guidelines, including facial coverings.

“This has taught students to adapt to what has been given to them,” Diaz said. “At any job, you are going to have to adapt and change some things on the fly. This is a good way for students to learn that.”

Diaz said the new safety guidelines have helped him as an instructor.

“It is a good teachable moment. We have to show the students how to be able to adapt to something new,” he said.

Diaz said classes include online lectures, but the most important portion of the course takes place in lab sessions.

“All of the skills students learn come in the form of the labs,” he said. “That is where the bulk of the learning is done.”

TSTC also offers Industrial Systems programs at the East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC, City of Ennis Poised for Productive Future

(RED OAK, Texas) – More than 20 miles separate the city of Ennis from Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus in Red Oak in Ellis County.

Ennis can count more than 3.6 million workers within a 60-mile radius of the city. This means there is an array of area jobs, from machining to welding, for which  people can learn skills at TSTC.

“From a logistical standpoint, we are learning that we are in the center of a lot of these hubs, these major industries and distribution centers and manufacturing centers,” said Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus. “I think that is in large part due to the major interstates coming through. There is a major railway that travels very close to the area, both north and south.”

Marty Nelson, Ennis’ city manager and interim economic development director, said new city leadership is signaling a need to build stronger connections with county entities, including TSTC.

“I think it is a resource that brings value to Ellis County,” he said about TSTC

Nelson said the city’s economic development is divided into four categories: downtown, industrial, maintenance and retail.  All provide potential opportunities to work with TSTC.

The city recently completed a $9 million infrastructure project in its eight-block downtown that was heavily damaged by a tornado in spring 2013. Part of the work included installing a fiber-optic network operating downtown irrigation, lighting and sound systems.

“We have city-owned facilities in, and in close proximity to our downtown, and each one has become a hub,” said Ennis Mayor Angeline Juenemann. “Those hubs are connected together to create a Wi-Fi mesh network over our downtown.”

Nelson said the city recently signed a deal with Freshpet to build a manufacturing facility employing about 400 people with average wages of $60,000 a year.  Buc-ee’s recently opened on Interstate Highway 45, providing about 175 jobs.

“Having a technically skilled workforce gives you a competitive advantage,” he said. “The availability of a workforce – in many cases, a skilled workforce – might be a great determining factor if you go to the next round in a site selection.”

Adrian Castanon, a coordinator in TSTC’s Career Services office, said Ennis Steel Industries Inc. hired in 2019 a North Texas campus graduate of  the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology program.

Castanon  said that earlier spring he was working with an Ennis company specializing in manufacturing paper and printing labels for retail stores because of interest in TSTC’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program.

The city is projected to have more than 1,000 new homes constructed in the next 18 months, Nelson said.

“It is reverse migration,” Nelson said. “The Metroplex is so dense and commute times are so long. I think people are trying to find places to live so they don’t have to be in all the congestion.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Lands IT Job in Dallas

(RED OAK, Texas) – Daryl Golden of Waxahachie worked in sales for a decade and decided he wanted to take a different direction in his career. And, the direction he took led to Texas State Technical College.

“I get anxious that I’m not accomplishing anything if I don’t have a progression path set up,” he said. “I’ve got to be working toward something, or I feel like I have plateaued.”

Not only is Golden a spring candidate for graduation at TSTC’s North Texas campus, but he has also landed a job in an information technology position at GDT in Dallas.  

He is scheduled to complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity later this month at TSTC. 

“These degree plans are very similar — just five additional courses — and you really can’t have security without networking,” he said. “So, I encourage anyone on the same degree plan to be a dual major as well.”

Some of Golden’s favorite courses focused on auditing, firewalls and network and security assessment.

“I had the privilege of teaching quite a few of Daryl’s classes,” said Joel Bryant, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program. “Daryl can be described as every instructor’s dream student. He’s inquisitive, highly motivated and determined to get the job done, whether it’s in a lab, homework assignments or his internships. He is persistent, helpful and a positive force in the classroom.”

Golden already knows how he will celebrate the completion of his classes.

“I plan to cook out as much as possible and play some games with all this free time I’ve suddenly gotten back,” he said. “After that, I’m going to chase as many certifications as possible. I need to keep working on my resume.”

Golden is excited to be working at GDT, a company that designs, builds, delivers and manages IT solutions and services for customers of all sizes and from a variety of industries. 

“They understood that I was a full-time student for just one more semester when they hired me and allowed me to work early on days I had class,” he said. “I could not be happier with this company and how they have treated me so far.”

Golden said his advice for future students is not to procrastinate and to pay attention to everything.

“Stay in as many loops as you can,” he said. “Through understanding what is being done around or even above you, it can become easier to learn more and punch above the weight of your position. Staying as looped in as you can means that you can solve and own problems that weren’t originally intended to be yours.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology Graduates Needed in Dallas County

(RED OAK, Texas) – Rodie Woodard, president of Maximum Industries in Irving, said finding qualified machinists depends on the timing of market conditions.

“There is plenty of talent in the pool, but when things are strong with Lockheed, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, they nab every single experienced multi-access machinist there is,” he said. “They are able to pay and offer benefits that smaller companies cannot compete with.”

Some of Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology graduates at the North Texas campus have been hired at Cannon & CannonIndustrial Machining in Greenville, Fabricon Machining in Duncanville, Martin Marietta in Dallas, and other businesses throughout the region.

“Precision Machining Technology graduates working for smaller companies still have great advantages. However, due to the common fluctuations of today’s economy, stability is jeopardized,” said Adrian Castanon, a TSTC Career Services coordinator. “A majority of our students strive to get employed with bigger, well-known companies.”

Jobs for machinists are projected to grow to more than 405,000 through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had more than 26,000 machinists in May 2018 earning an annual mean wage of more than $46,800, according to the agency.

Woodard said machining is a unique skill not everyone can quickly learn. The company does work for the aerospace, defense and other industries.

“We do a lot of machining. But we do what you consider fabrication work, meaning water-jet and laser cutting of parts,” he said. “We have a pretty young workforce, but probably at least half of our employees have been here more than 10 years.”

Richard Perez, research manager at Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, said there is a need for machinists in Dallas County, particularly in Garland, its manufacturing hub. The demand can be seen through postings for jobs, which Perez said is taking some companies more than a month to fill.

Perez said Workforce Solutions is working with career and technical education programs in Dallas County school districts to spur interest in the machining field.

“We are increasing that student pipeline and letting them know there are good jobs available,” Perez said. “You do not have to go to a four-year university if you do not want to.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Hosts Counselor Update

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus held its annual Counselor Update on Friday to kick off the new year.

“It just gives them a chance to see what is going on if they are new,” said Trey Pearson, TSTC’s North and Central Texas regional director for student recruitment. “For those returning, it’s keeping our relationship strong.”

More than 30 area school counselors learned about TSTC’s technical programs and new initiatives.

The counselors were told about TSTC’s Performance-Based Education initiative beginning this fall with the Cybersecurity and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology programs. Students in these programs can take course lessons at their own pace to create flexibility in their learning.

The counselors watched members of the first cohort of Bombardier’s Aviation Apprenticeship Training program work in their specially designed lab on the first floor of the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center. The cohort is the first of 250 people taking 180 days of training at TSTC and at the company to produce the Advanced Metallic Wing for the Global 7500 aircraft at the company’s Red Oak plant.

Megan Bloedel, a college advisor at McKinney North High School, said Friday’s event was the first time she had been to TSTC.

“I liked the different programs there were and partnering with different industries,” she said.

Bloedel said the technical program that piqued her interest was Diesel Equipment Technology, which teaches students about engine repair, hydraulics, steering and suspension systems and other topics.

Allison Knott, a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) coordinator at Cedar Hill High School, said she was interested in the need for HVAC technicians and the skills taught in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Technology and Industrial Systems programs.

“I’m always super impressed when I come to TSTC,” Knott said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to