Category Archives: North Texas

TSTC Precision Machining Technology program prepares graduates for in-demand jobs

(RED OAK, Texas) – From smartphones to the hubcaps on vehicles, precision machining is a critical component of our lives.

“(Many human-made things would) not exist without a machine and its components,” said Nathan Cleveland, acting statewide lead in Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program and associate provost at TSTC in Marshall.

Cleveland said high school students need to be more exposed to what precision machining is, along with its career stability and income potential. He said most students who enter TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program usually know someone already in the industry. The program’s classes at the North Texas campus are taught at night.

Lyle Guinn, the lead instructor for TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program in North Texas, said students entering the program should be good at spatial thinking, have a mechanical aptitude and understand geometry.

Cleveland said the kinds of jobs that program graduates want depend on the area of Texas where they want to live. He said while East Texas has many production jobs, the Houston area has many oil and gas industry jobs. The career niche that graduates shift into will factor into their income.

“A lot of it is where they (graduates) want to live, what kind of benefits they want and if they want to continue on in their education,” Guinn said. “A lot of the companies you go to work for as a machinist will continue to pay for your education.”

Companies that have sought machining workers in the last few months in North Texas include Amazon, Bridgestone/Firestone, Sabre Industries Inc. and FedEx, according to Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas.

Industrial engineering technologists and technicians have the highest hourly wage for experienced workers among machining-type jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at more than $40, according to data from Workforce Solutions. The second-highest hourly wage for experienced workers is more than $39 for metal and plastic model makers.

Workforce Solutions’ 16-county area has more than 7,700 machinists and more than 6,600 metal and plastics machine tool cutting setters, operators and tenders.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, computer numerical controlled tool programmers are making a yearly median salary of more than $57,000 in Texas. Jobs are concentrated in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and a certificate of completion in Machining. 

Registration continues for the fall semester. Scholarships are available. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology program ready to fill area employment needs

(RED OAK, Texas) – The coronavirus pandemic has not slowed down diesel equipment work in North Texas.

“The main thing that comes to mind about our program is that the students who have graduated and were working during this pandemic never lost any wages,” said Matthew Dobbs, lead instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program at the North Texas campus in Red Oak. “They continued to work and provide for their families due to the need for continued trucking deliveries. The last thing we needed was for the trucks to not be able to deliver the supplies that we needed to survive.”

More than 500 jobs were advertised for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists from September 2020 to February 2021 in the 16-county area that Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas serves. Employers with the most job openings during that time were Love’s Travel Shops, Ryder System Inc., TravelCenters of America and Rusk Truck Centers.

There were more than 7,600 bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in the third quarter of 2020 in Workforce Solutions’ service area. The mean hourly wage for the workers was $27.04 in 2019, according to the most recent data from the agency.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that there will be a need for more than 290,000 bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists by 2029.

Timco Logistics has called Waxahachie home for about two decades and specializes in brokerage work, hauling, logistics and trucking. The company is working with the city of Waxahachie and Ellis County in a building expansion project expected to break ground later this year. The expansion means the company will need at least 15 new diesel technicians to handle an increased workload.

“They are having to outsource some of their maintenance work because they cannot get it all done with the facility they have right now,” said John Dagg, an area certified public account working as a consultant with Timco Logistics. “It is stretched and not big enough. That costs money when they outsource truck maintenance.”

Brandon Luiszer, manager of talent acquisition for Love’s Travel Shops, said it is a challenge to find qualified job candidates, especially in less populated areas. Love’s has several locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and throughout Texas. The company is having a National Hiring Day event on March 31 with the goal of hiring more than 2,000 workers nationwide.

The company has an apprenticeship program that enables participants to earn competitive wages and work toward becoming diesel mechanics. At the end of the program, participants receive a tool kit that is valued at $3,500 and is theirs to keep after one year of employment with the company.

“There needs to be more visibility into career opportunities within the skilled labor workforce and the rewards that come with these opportunities,” Luiszer said. “There should also be more focus on providing options to high school students besides joining the military or (pursuing) a traditional four-year degree.”

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, said there is a pipeline of students who took automotive classes at Red Oak High School and are enrolling at TSTC.

“Diesel Equipment Technology is a campus staple,” he said. “Many of our students come to our campus to enroll specifically in the program, and that is well known for establishing solid baseline skills in this field of study. In addition, we have three very solid instructors in this program, all of whom are TSTC graduates who have returned to teach.”

TSTC in North Texas offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and two certificates in Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck Specialization.

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

TSTC Precision Machining Technology program training students to fill area jobs

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Precision Machining Technology program teaches students the skills they need to walk into any company that hires precision machinists and begin work.

“If it’s man-made, we (machinists) made some or all of it in the process of its production,” said Darren Block, statewide lead instructor for TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program.

Texas had more than 28,500 machinists in May 2019 making an annual mean wage of $46,420, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program teaches students the skills to operate grinders, metal lathes and milling machines. Students work on both manual and computer numerical controlled machines and design parts using SolidWorks.

“Precision Machining Technology is a small but growing problem at TSTC in North Texas,” said Marcus Balch, the campus provost. “Many industry partners desire these graduates, and like most of the campuses, we just do not have enough graduates to go around.”

North Texas has a big need for people with precision machining skills.

There were more than 1,300 job postings for the machining field in Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas’ 16-county service area from September 2020 to February 2021. These machining-type jobs include CNC machine tool operators for metals and plastics, industrial engineering technicians, and structural metal fabricators and fitters. 

Kyle Kinateder, president and chief executive officer of Midlothian Economic Development Corp., said the need for machinists is being seen more from business prospects inquiring about the city than those that are already established. He said companies eager to come to the city are looking at the basic pool of available workers.

“That is really why TSTC is so important,” Kinateder said. “They can come in and provide these skills within our communities, and the companies can come in with a minimal amount of investment and customize their skills to their equipment.”

He said the skills that machinists have are applicable to running many kinds of equipment.

“We continue to see manufacturing relocate from overseas to the United States,” Kinateder said. “The only way those companies are doing this to be successful is by relying on technology and relying on automation, and at the heart of all those are machine operators.”

The federal labor statistics agency has estimated there will be a need for more than 404,000 machinists by 2029. This is attributed to the development of autoloaders, CNC machines and high-speed machines.

Balch said the campus is partnering with a local school district to provide dual enrollment classes to train more students to work in the field.

TSTC in North Texas offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology and a machining certificate.

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

TSTC works with Texas school districts to offer dual enrollment classes

(RED OAK, Texas) – Red Oak High School students do not have far to go for dual enrollment classes. All they have to do is walk across a parking lot to Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus.

Dual enrollment enables high school students to take college-level courses as they work toward high school diplomas and earn college semester-credit hours.

Red Oak High School students are taking classes this year in the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, Automotive Technology, Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Digital Media Design, Electrical Power and Controls, and Welding Technology programs. Classes are taught by TSTC-accredited teachers at Red Oak High School, at TSTC or online.

Lisa Menton, the Red Oak Independent School District’s career and technical education director, said dual enrollment offerings are decided upon using employment data from the Texas Workforce Commission, along with information forecasting high-demand careers in the future. Student interest can also factor into decisions.

Menton said the district’s goals for the future are to grow the number of students taking Electrical Power and Controls and Precision Machining Technology classes.

“We will offer more opportunities for our students as we begin to see if those can fit in pathways to meet career needs in our area,” Menton said. “That makes it easier and more convenient. Students can do the online learning and work it into their schedule.”

Besides Red Oak ISD, TSTC in North Texas is working with the Castleberry Independent School District, Texas Can Academies and two home schools to provide dual enrollment opportunities.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, more than 151,000 Texas high school students took dual enrollment classes in fall 2017. The percentage of Hispanic students taking dual enrollment classes grew from 38 percent in fall 2007 to 46 percent in fall 2017, according to the THECB.

Some of TSTC’s most popular dual enrollment programs statewide include Automotive Technology, Cybersecurity, Digital Media Design and Welding Technology. The classes can be taught by TSTC-accredited teachers at the students’ home campuses, or students can travel to a TSTC campus. High school students can also take some dual enrollment classes online.

“Our main goal with dual enrollment is matriculation, to expose them (the students) to TSTC earlier so they can pick a career they can go into and matriculate to one of our campuses,” said Kadie Svrcek, TSTC’s dual enrollment recruitment representative. “Students are able to have that freedom to have dual enrollment with us and continue on with us while online.”

Spring is the time when private schools, along with charter and public schools, can reach out to TSTC to inquire about dual enrollment opportunities in time for fall. The TSTC programs that schools are interested in for their students are vetted to ensure that there is no overlap with neighboring colleges.

“For us, it is all about exposure,” Svrcek said.

COVID-19 has impacted dual enrollment for students in the past year. But Svrcek is optimistic about the future.

“I think now everyone has gotten a grasp and handle on what their plans are, and they are more comfortable pivoting from an in-person setting to a 100 percent online or a hybrid setting,” Svrcek said. “Our school districts are coming around and being more active.”

As we close out Career and Technical Education Month, TSTC is proud to showcase the students, staff and faculty who support its mission of being the “most sophisticated technical institute in the country” every day. To learn more about the programs offered at TSTC, go to tstc.edu/programs.

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 tstc.edu. 

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.edu.

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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

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 tstc.edu.

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.edu.