Category Archives: North Texas

TSTC graduate returns to teach in the Industrial Systems program

(RED OAK, Texas) – Jarriet Durham is fascinated by electricity. And he is eager to instruct as many people about it as possible.

Durham began teaching in the Industrial Systems program at Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus in December 2019. Initially he was looking for a second job since he was already working in the industry. What he thought was an offer to teach part time was actually a chance to join the program’s faculty as a full-time instructor.

“I feel like, as an instructor, we look at it as teaching. But on the other side, you are a lifelong learner,” Durham said.

During the spring semester, he is teaching some of the program’s day classes.

“His enthusiasm for what he does each day is very easy to see,” said Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC in North Texas. “Jarriet, or J.D. as we call him, could be out in industry still, but he’s come back to a technical college and a program that he is a graduate of. The work that he does daily directly impacts the lives of his students, giving them a very sought-after skill set that is critical for our industry partners.”

Durham said he sees a challenge in educating others in what industrial systems are. He said there is a big need for women and minorities to pursue the field.

“It is such a varied field,” Durham said. “We touch on some of everything. We teach heating, ventilation and air conditioning; electronics; electrical; mechanical; pneumatics; hydraulics.”

Les Monk, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems program, admires Durham’s attention to detail — something that he first noticed when Durham was one of his students.

There is something else that Monk noticed early on: Durham’s love of motorcycles. Monk said Durham rides to and from campus occasionally on a motorcycle.

“He’ll ride it when it’s cold outside,” Monk said.

Durham grew up in Dallas and is a graduate of H. Grady Spruce High School. After high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force, where he worked as a postmaster and radio operator. 

“Some of the soft skills transfer when you manage a post office,” Durham said. “In my role, I had clerks under me. I am not completely new to it (teaching) in an administrative role.”

After he left the military, Durham worked in construction and studied to be an electronic systems technician.

“I was not making the money I wanted to make in construction and decided to go to TSTC,” Durham said. “I wanted to do work on electrical systems. I was doing some research, found out about TSTC and gave them a call. And the next thing I knew, I was enrolled and going to school.”

Durham graduated in 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization from TSTC in North Texas.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

During the month of February, TSTC wants to honor the Black students, staff and faculty who make TSTC a special place to learn.

TSTC Listens to Industry Partners to Make Students Work-Ready

(RED OAK, Texas) – While people pursuing the heating and air conditioning industry need to know how electricity and refrigeration flows work and how a meter functions, interpersonal skills are just as important to have.

Texas State Technical College’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program has a statewide advisory board made of industry professionals to help it keep up with the skills that students need to stay ahead.

“The advisory board told us last month that the industry is still rolling and COVID-19 has not slowed them down at all,” said Lance Lucas, TSTC’s statewide Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program chair. “HVAC technicians are still needed throughout the state.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that there will be 391,900 jobs for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers by 2029. The agency attributes the growth to commercial and residential building construction and the development of climate-control systems.

Texas had more than 26,600 heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers in May 2019 making an annual mean wage of $46,840.

Roy Boyd, service manager at Airmasters Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. in Cleburne, said work ethic and personality play major roles in considering which people to hire. Company employees have to communicate well with customers, dispatchers, technicians and others.

“We are always looking for good help,” Boyd said. “We can bring them in when they are green and build them up to our standards. Or if they come in with the skills, we can hone those in and do it the way we want. We have a high standard of quality.”

Members of the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association seek employees with basic technical knowledge and installation skills and who have a desire to serve and learn. Integrity and good character are also needed, according to the association.

Devorah Jakubowsky, the TACCA’s executive director, said the organization’s members will look forward in 2021 to touting the importance of indoor air quality, refrigeration and new technologies. She said people will continue being needed to fill jobs as workers retire.

“We have to do a better job of convincing people that HVAC is a good career option,” Jakubowsky said. “You get to work with your hands and not behind a desk. You get to troubleshoot and figure things out. You earn a good living, and you don’t rack up mounds of student debt obtaining a four-year degree.”

Registration continues for the spring semester at TSTC, which starts Jan. 11.  For more information, go to

TSTC, Bombardier Celebrate Federal Apprenticeship Program Registration

(RED OAK, Texas) – Representatives of Texas State Technical College and Bombardier announced Wednesday the registration of the company’s apprenticeship program by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Bombardier Aviation Apprenticeship Program is based at TSTC’s North Texas campus in Red Oak. The program was announced in December 2019 and so far has trained 55 people to work at the Montreal-based aviation company. 

“This will enable Bombardier to attract qualified individuals from the United States,” said Tony Curry, the company’s general manager.

Curry described the training program as a grassroots pipeline to produce aerospace workers. He said he is happy the company can provide training at TSTC and good-paying jobs for its future employees.

“We could not have wished for a better partner,” Curry said.

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, credited the TSTC Workforce Training department’s collaboration with Bombardier in helping to make the training happen. He said each cohort has about 25 members.

“There is a desire to come on at Bombardier,” Balch said. “It is evidence of how you treat your people.”

The apprenticeship program will have eight cohorts by 2022. Cohort members train for 90 days at TSTC and 90 days of on-the-job training at the company. The third cohort is currently being trained.

“This is a great addition to the assets and resources in Red Oak,” state Sen. Brian Birdwell said about the training program.

The company’s more than 900 employees produce the Advanced Metallic Wing for the Global 7500 aircraft in Red Oak.

“This is a great opportunity for anybody who wants to do this or needs a career change,” said David Setzer, executive director of Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas.

Ellis County Judge Todd Ellis credited Bombardier with investing in the county’s youth and changing the landscape of opportunities in the county.

“The best is yet to come for our next generation,” he said.

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TSTC Aims to Guide Johnson County Graduates Into Technical Careers

(RED OAK, Texas) – Some Johnson County college students are looking to Texas State Technical College to shape their futures. During the fall semester, more than 60 county residents are attending TSTC’s campuses in North Texas, Marshall, Sweetwater and Waco.

“The hiring potential in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Ellis County and Johnson County areas is increasing as the economy opens back up,” said Lyle Guinn, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program at the North Texas campus. “The older generation is retiring, and companies are looking for competent, qualified people to fill the void left by those retirements.”

TSTC is viewed as an asset for Cleburne’s economic development. 

“It certainly helps as a recruiting tool when we recruit a new manufacturing or industrial business in Cleburne that is looking for a highly skilled workforce,” said Grady Easdon, the city of Cleburne’s economic development manager. “It is an outstanding recruiting tool for us.”

Triangle Pump Components Inc. in Cleburne gets less than three-quarters of its business from petroleum-based customers. The majority of the company’s employees are machinists, said Sam Kelton, Triangle’s vice president and general manager.

“Machinists with the skill set and experience we look for were more difficult to find before the pandemic,” Kelton said. “Since the pandemic started, many DFW-area companies that employ machinists have experienced layoffs.”

Kelton said machinists need good computer programming, mathematics and spatial reasoning skills.

“The job is both challenging and interesting,” he said. “Machinists are usually very intelligent and creative thinkers. Machining work will hold one’s interest and be motivating at the same time, while being hands-on at the same time.”

Kelton said he is confident the demand for future machinists will grow in the future but more people need to pursue the industry.

“Our business is structured to withstand the volatile swings in the oil industry,” he said. “The pandemic added an additional challenge we have not seen before. Businesses must be more creative and adaptable now than anytime I have seen in over 40 years of management.”

Sachem Inc., which is headquartered in Austin and has a facility in Cleburne, is a private chemical science company specializing in high-performance and high-purity products and services for the agrochemical, biotechnology, oil field and pharmaceutical industries.

Katie Cash, the company’s senior human resources manager in Austin, said the company frequently hires chemical operators on a temp-to-hire basis.

“We are a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week facility, and the production department where this role is works on a rotating swing shift, which is a mix of days and nights,” Cash said. “It can be a challenge to find individuals who can work this type of schedule. Some love it because it affords a string of days off on a regular basis. The operator, who technically starts as a packager, is involved in filling totes of product, monitoring tanks and processes, and preparing the product for shipping.”

Cash said the company also occasionally has maintenance and shipping jobs to fill.

“We tend to hire applicants who have some work experience in manufacturing environments. Some have forklift experience but are willing to train if not, and all have energy, drive and motivation and are reliable to come to work on time,” she said.

For Cleburne to have the workers for the future, students need to be inspired now.

Eighth grade students in the Cleburne Independent School District take a college and career readiness course in which they build a personal graduation plan for high school.

“The sooner we can get laser-focused toward a pathway, it shows graduation rates are higher and dropout rates are lower,” said Mark McClure, the Cleburne school district’s career and technical education director. 

Cleburne’s high school students in the health science pathway have the opportunity to earn pharmacy technician or registered dental assistant certifications, while students in the diesel technician program do internships at local businesses before they graduate.

“What we are doing is forecasting future jobs,” McClure said. “They say about 75 percent of the jobs today’s third graders will have haven’t even been invented yet.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Red Oak IDC provides scholarship opportunity to TSTC

(RED OAK, Texas) – A new scholarship is available for students living in Red Oak and who are planning to attend Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus.

The Red Oak Industrial Development Corp. board of directors recently approved a resolution donating funds to TSTC’s Red Oak IDC scholarship. Scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded to students.

“The Red Oak IDC Scholarship available at TSTC will provide financial assistance to our students for attaining upward mobility and improve the quality of life for our students and their families,” said Lee McCleary, economic development director for the city of Red Oak. 

“In addition, the TSTC North Texas campus provides our students the opportunity to receive state-of-the-art higher education technical and vocational workforce training in Red Oak so they may be better prepared for success well into the future,” he said.

Rusty Hicks, TSTC’s corporate development officer, said the gift will help Red Oak’s workforce.

“We are excited to receive this type of commitment,” he said. “Not only will we have students coming to our North Texas campus, but it will get them back into the Red Oak workforce.”

The scholarship will be available to students living within Red Oak’s city limits and may be used for TSTC school-related expenses. Recipients must attend the North Texas campus to be eligible.

Recipients may be traditional or nontraditional students and attend school on a full-time or part-time basis. The scholarship is open to new and current students, and all students must be in good academic and behavioral standing to be eligible.

The college’s staff will award the scholarship, which may be presented to recipients in multiple semesters. 

For more information about TSTC, visit

City of Red Oak and TSTC officials signed an agreement to provide scholarship opportunities to Red Oak residents. Pictured from left to right are Rusty Hicks, TSTC’s corporate development officer; Lee McCleary, Red Oak’s director of economic development; Ben Goodwyn, president of the Red Oak Industrial Development Corp. board; Jessica Toney, chair of The TSTC Foundation board; Beth Wooten, CEO of The TSTC Foundation; Dr. Mark Stanfill, Red Oak’s mayor; and Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus. (Photo: TSTC)

TSTC, Waxahachie Partner for Economic Development

(RED OAK, Texas) – Companies looking to move to cities need an available workforce and job training options.

Warren Ketteman, president and chief executive officer of the Waxahachie Economic Development Corp., said Texas State Technical College is important to the city’s economic development because of its training and technical programs.

“Without TSTC and other partners, I cannot do what I do,” Ketteman said.

Ketteman said the manufacturing sector is particularly cognizant of the need for an existing. He said some companies look within an hour’s drive of a city to determine the pool of potential workers. 

“We want all of them to hire local folks, absolutely, because we want to keep those paychecks right here,” Ketteman said. “All economic development is local.”

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, said the institution has been invited to participate in the Waxahachie Project, which promotes businesses, churches, government and schools coming together for the city’s betterment.

“We have got a pretty solid relationship with Waxahachie,” said Balch. “We have had a number of students from the area in our programs, great support from the Waxahachie Independent School District and a few donors that have assisted with scholarship funds.”

He said the city’s chamber of commerce has also been supportive of TSTC’s work.

“There are a lot of solid connections that we are excited to continue to develop relationships with and aid in economic development in the area,” he said.

Some of the companies in Waxahachie that have hired TSTC graduates in the last five years include H2O Steel, Stelco Industries, Southern Frac LLC, Timco Logistics Systems and Walgreens Distribution Center, according to TSTC’s Career Services department.

Dana Lynch, human resources manager at Walgreens Distribution Center, said the company currently has openings for maintenance technicians and distribution center supervisors. The company is looking for workers through its website and virtual job fairs. 

Erik Shoquist, plant manager at Cardinal Glass Industries in Waxahachie, said a majority of job openings are in production, machine operations and assembly. He said the company has been actively hiring since May.

“We have a very automated facility that requires us to have a very strong information technology and technical group,” Shoquist said. “Our maintenance team makes up about 10 percent of our workforce.”

Shoquist said the company looks for employees who have integrity and motivation to carry on the plant’s culture.

“Over the years we have hired students from TSTC,” he said. “We have been pleased with the strong foundation they built with TSTC, and they have progressed into leadership roles on our maintenance team.”

Ketteman said the city continues to focus on industries like distribution, logistics, technology and medical devices and supplies. He said the city also has its eye on business and data service companies and chip manufacturers.

“Those are really large projects. and they bring a huge tax base to the community,” he said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology Program Ready to Fill Area Jobs

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program at the North Texas campus this fall has started using a supplemental curriculum from the National Tool & Machining Association to teach students.

Darren Block, TSTC’s statewide lead program instructor, said the curriculum will give students a more thorough education in machining. That, combined with the professional knowledge of faculty members, will help program graduates be more competitive for area jobs. 

In the 16-county area that Workforce Solutions North Central Texas covers, there are more than 8,200 machinists making an hourly wage of between $13 and $25 an hour.

Information from Workforce Solutions indicates that companies posted more than 1,900 listings since Jan. 1, 2020, for jobs in machining-related fields. Some of the employers with the highest number of job postings include Amazon, Cushman & Wakefield, Sabre Industries Inc. and RPO International.

Area economic development and industrial leaders said TSTC is essential for economic growth.

“We are very supportive of what TSTC is doing and the future employees they are teaching and turning out,” said Warren Ketteman, senior director of economic development for the city of Waxahachie.

Ketteman has been making business retention visits to some of the city’s companies and has walked away encouraged about the future.

“Almost every one of the manufacturing companies are hiring,” he said. “When COVID-19 first hit, some had furloughs. But all those people are back, and they are hiring more people. Business is good.”

Grady Easdon, economic development manager for the city of Cleburne, said several existing companies are hiring, and potential ones are eyeing the city because of affordable land costs and a lower cost of living.

Easdon credits Cleburne High School’s career and technical education program for providing opportunities for students.

“They have really developed strong partnerships with our local manufacturing companies and various industries around the area to develop intern programs and offer tours,” Easdon said. “It is just whatever they need to get students interested in pursuing the careers there.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Computer Programs Shift Online This Fall

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program and Cybersecurity program at the North Texas campus will move to an all-online format this fall.

For the 2020-21 academic year, TSTC’s health protocols have caused changes in how many classes are delivered. Some programs are moving to a hybrid format combining online classes and in-person labs, while others will only be taught online. 

“The benefit to our students can potentially be great,” said Jacob Usery, an instructor in TSTC’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. “They will already have been practicing current standard operating procedures for remotely managing a network throughout their education.”

Usery said network administrators, systems administrators, help desk technicians and other people in the information technology field have managed remote environments and users for years.

“The ability to successfully work on remote equipment and systems is vital to becoming a valuable technical asset for any organization,” Usery said. “If we are able to start our students on that journey at the academic level, we will produce graduates who have a leg up on their peers in the working world.”

John McGinnis, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program, said the move online will give students flexibility to work on their own schedules but still maintain deadlines.

Both programs will offer Occupational Skills Awards for the first time. The OSAs are designed for students to take quickly in order to gain new skills for the workforce. Classes can be completed in less than a semester.

The Basic Computer Networking and Systems Administration OSA will include Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) classes focusing on automation, networking, routing and other topics.

“This is good for career changers and people that are working in the industry and need that extra bump to break through the ceiling,” Usery said. “Also, (it is good for) young people entering the workforce that need to tap into a skill that can provide immediate job prospects upon successful completion.”

The Basic Cybersecurity OSA focuses on information technology security and networking technologies.

Students have a great reason to be optimistic about the current job climate, as indicated by information from Workforce Solutions North Central Texas.

The Workforce Solutions office covers 16 counties, including Ellis County. Some of the employers with the largest number of openings for computer and information systems managers, computer network architects, and software and application developers include Wells Fargo with more than 600 jobs, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. with more than 500. Other employers in North Texas seeking workers include Amazon, Bank of America and Toyota Motors.

Workforce Solutions has designated computer and information systems managers, computer network architects, computer systems analysts, and networking and computer systems administrators as target occupations. Computer and information systems managers had the highest hourly mean wage at $77.69 in 2019, according to data from Workforce Solutions. 

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TSTC Ready to Welcome Students Back This Fall in North Texas

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

“I think the exciting part of the fall to me is we have new students coming to campus to begin their educational journey,” said Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus. “The new students, the returning students, the faculty and staff all get to participate in rebuilding the economy of Texas.”

Students will see ample signage promoting campus health and safety, as well as more hand-sanitizing stations. Students will need to wear face coverings at all times, and go in and out of designated entrances and exits at the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center. There will be more social distancing in labs. Students will not be allowed on the second floor.

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

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

Programs that will be taught in a hybrid format are Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Power and Controls; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology; Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology. 

“The only time the students will be on campus is to complete the labs,” said Matthew Dobbs, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program. “This will allow the students that work to either have all afternoon or morning to work, or several weekdays  to allow for more work time.”

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. The tutoring staff will connect students virtually to statewide tutors in their subject areas.

One thing that is not changing is TSTC’s commitment to its students.

Career Services is going virtual with its employer spotlights, career preparation workshops and one-on-one meetings with students using Webex and Google Meet.

“Since virtual platforms are the latest and most effective way of communication to ensure social distancing, students are going to have to adapt and get comfortable with speaking in front of a webcam and being spoken to from a computer monitor or laptop,” said Adrian Castanon, a TSTC Career Services coordinator.”

Castanon will have on-campus office hours each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Aug. 12. He will also be available virtually to work with students Monday through Friday.

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

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TSTC to Welcome Students to Several Night Classes This Fall

(RED OAK, Texas) – Students interested in learning in the evenings this fall can pursue a range of technical programs at Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus.

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program’s daytime and evening students can finish a certificate in three semesters or an associate degree in five semesters.  

“The main reason I am offering night classes in the fall is to provide a service to the possible students that have to work during the day,” said Douglas McCuen, lead instructor of TSTC’s HVAC Technology program. “Evening students would not be able to attend any other way.”

The Precision Machining Technology programs will also offer night classes. Lyle Guinn, a program instructor, said this could allow for more daytime internship opportunities for students.

Students can also work at night in three programs that are shifting to an all-online format in the fall. The programs are Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, and Cybersecurity.

“I think as we learn how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are going to be people who are underemployed and finding themselves wanting to do more in this new economy,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC’s campus provost. “By having the day and evening class options, we are certainly flexible around work schedules or providing those upscale opportunities as we help build the economy of Texas.”

TSTC will use a hybrid format for programs this fall, with some classes being taught online and others using an in-person and online learning combination. Each program will follow campus and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.

Registration for the fall semester is underway.

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