Category Archives: North Texas

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Turns Interest Into Job

(RED OAK) – Miguel Gutierrez of Burleson is fascinated by Volvos and engine overhauling.

The Texas State Technical College student has combined his interests through hands-on training and getting a job in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Gutierrez is a candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology-Heavy Truck Specialization. He and more than 30 other students will receive certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College in North Texas’ Spring 2019 Commencement at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

Gutierrez, a graduate of Cleburne High School, started working after high school. He was a regional commercial truck driver for 10 years before having a desire to move into the service side of the industry.

“I am glad I am here (at TSTC) right now. It’s made a world of difference,” he said.

He took TSTC classes full time so he could concentrate on his studies.

“For me, the academics was the biggest challenge for me,” Gutierrez said. “I find more satisfaction getting into the problem-solving side.”

Elisha McKinney, an instructor in TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program, said the Basic Brake Systems class was Gutierrez’s favorite.

“Miguel was always easy to work with,” she said. “He kept an open mind and easily applied his previous experience to diesel. He makes me proud that he can easily teach another student exactly what I had taught him.”

Gutierrez said he was confident during his job search and knew he would find something that would match his interests.

“There are a lot of people looking for diesel mechanics,” Gutierrez said. “The market is wide-open for employment.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area has more than 7,000 bus and truck technicians and diesel engine specialists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual mean wage is more than $53,000, according to the agency.

Gutierrez has been hired at Prevost in Fort Worth and will start work in May.

“I will be going to work servicing tour buses and motor coaches,” he said. “Prevost is a subsidiary of the Volvo Group. I will be starting as a level II technician. I’m thankful for the training and education I received from the diesel program at TSTC.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Candidate for Graduation Turns Interest Into Job

TSTC Career Services Hosts Mock Interview Sessions for Students

(RED OAK) – More than 20 Texas State Technical College in North Texas students had the opportunity Wednesday morning to sit down with area industry representatives to practice interview skills.

TSTC’s Career Services department hosted mock interviews for the first time for students to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Students had three timed sessions with recruiting and human resources workers from area companies.

“It did what it intended to do,” said Frank Green, a corporate recruiter at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, who was one of the interviewers. “It gave them interview experience and feedback that they would not (otherwise) get.”

Green said he noticed the Industrial Maintenance and Welding Technology students he spoke to had good eye contact and were engaged throughout their interviews. But, he said some students need to work on general interview preparation, like having a resume to present and  not chewing gum.

“They all had individual qualities,” Green said.

Doug Sturdivant, human resources manager at Facility Solutions Group in Dallas, said the interview simulations were beneficial to help students get ready for the job market upon graduation.

“With the three students I saw, their attitudes were good,” Sturdivant said. “They were nervous. Most of them were willing to communicate.”

TSTC Industrial Maintenance major Karlos Alfaro of Terrell said he learned to work on his posture and focus more on eye contact.

One of Alfaro’s classmates in Industrial Maintenance, Alex McDonald of Waxahachie, said he was nervous at first but became comfortable as the morning went on.

“I need to elaborate on my answers and sell myself more,” McDonald said. “I need to ask more questions.”

Fagen Jones, a TSTC Career Services coordinator, said she wants to organize interview simulations each spring and fall.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Career Services Hosts Mock Interview Sessions for Students

TSTC Industrial Maintenance Students Needed to Fill North Texas Jobs

(RED OAK) – Students who pursue industrial maintenance careers play a critical role in keeping their workplaces operational.

“I feel like a student that will do well will be curious in nature and want to learn,” said John Walker, an instructor in Texas State Technical College in North Texas’ Industrial Maintenance program.

Walker said the program’s students make up three groups: traditional ones just out of high school, those studying to get promotions, and workers already in the field wanting to improve their skills.

“For us in this area, a lot of the companies have gone from wanting mechanical to electrical to wanting people who are multicraft or considered technicians,” Walker said. “With those job changes, they are looking for one person that can fit two roles and reduce some of their labor costs. The market for the electrical specialization is ridiculously good right now.”

Joe Razza, a regional recruiter for Crown Lift Trucks in Arlington, said many of the learned industrial maintenance skills can be used in manufacturing forklifts. Employees undergo company training once hired.

“We have to look for the best candidates possible,” Razza said. “There is no forklift school.”

Jonathan Williamson, human resources talent lead at Owens Corning in Waxahachie, said the company hires for industrial mechanic and electrical specialist positions.

“Our ideal candidate would be somebody with a journeyman certification through an apprenticeship program or a two-year degree and ideally five years of experience on the job,” he said. “That is really hard to get. If we could snap our fingers and find candidates like that, we would be tickled pink.”

Williamson said employees starting out in electrical and mechanical tasks at the company working a 40-hour week could have a base pay in the $60,000 range with overtime opportunities.

“You just have so much earning potential than a lot of other careers,” Williamson said. “We have mechanics and electricians making six figures each year because they work the extra hours.”

A lot of the jobs graduates can pursue in the field only require an associate degree.

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians had an annual mean wage of more than $67,000 in Texas in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technicians are needed in computer design, natural gas distribution, petroleum manufacturing and other industries.

Electromechanical technicians can work in the aerospace, energy, piping and semiconductor industries, according to the agency. The annual mean wage for electromechanical technicians in Texas was more than $57,000 in May 2018, according to the agency.

Students attending TSTC in North Texas can pursue the Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance with an Electrical Specialization, or a certificate in Industrial Maintenance Mechanic-Electrical. Some of the classes students take include Basic Electrical Theory, Commercial Wiring, Machinery Installation and Programmable Logic Controllers.

Students have opportunities to get apprenticeships as early as their second semester, Walker said.

“The student now has income coming in, and it’s generally in the field they are going into,” he said. “The company wins because …  they have somebody to bring up and grow in-house.”

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TSTC in North Texas Employees Recognized With Statewide Award

(RED OAK) – Two employees at Texas State Technical College in North Texas have been honored for their work and skills.

Thomas Betik, a building maintenance supervisor, and Leslie Monk, an Industrial Maintenance instructor, are recipients of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award.

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

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

Betik began work at TSTC in 2017 and is the first in his position on campus. Since he is the only building maintenance supervisor there, he deals with most building-related problems that arise. Betik said faculty members also offer their expertise in some situations.

“I was in disbelief,” he said about the award. “To me, to get it in that short period of time was amazing.”

Betik grew up in Ennis and graduated in 1983 from Ennis High School. He graduated in 1987 from TSTC in Waco with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Plant Engineering.

“I come from a farming background and picked up a lot of maintenance and plumbing skills around the farm and made a career out of it,” Betik said.

TSTC in North Texas Provost Marcus Balch called Betik a tireless worker the campus is fortunate to have.

“He is very well respected and liked by the employees,” Balch said.

Monk was hired four years ago as the first instructor for the Industrial Maintenance program at TSTC in North Texas. The Waxahachie resident calls it his favorite job.

“Surprised was an understatement,” he said upon learning about the award. “I read the email three times. It was astonishing and not expected at all.”

Monk said he enjoys teaching because it is a way to share the knowledge he learned from his relatives who were electricians.

“I teach nights with students in the field who want to promote up,” he said. “I get to work with a lot of experienced people.”

Monk grew up in Grand Prairie and has a general education development certificate. He is a 2015 graduate of Cedar Valley College, where he studied interdisciplinary studies.

He joined the United States Navy at 18 and was an electrician in the the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions. While in the military, Monk was deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, as well as to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Balch said Monk is quiet, but a hard worker.

“He has been a trouper for us,” the provost said. “He has helped grow our cohort for Industrial Maintenance at night. He has stepped in to teach Electrical Power and Controls classes in the past.”

Betik and Monk will join 33 other TSTC employees statewide who will be honored at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Awards Dinner in May in Austin.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in North Texas Employees Recognized With Statewide Award


TSTC Student Builds Leadership Skills as Campus Ambassador

(RED OAK) – Orlando Chavez of Red Oak did not look far to make his college decision.

Chavez is a Precision Machining Technology major at Texas State Technical College, which is next door to Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

“I have enjoyed getting to learn how to use the milling machines and lathe,” Chavez said. “It was a major learning curve, but it was the best thing I learned so far.”

Theo Comer, an instructor in TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, said Chavez has been a joy to teach.

“He shows an energy to learn and the effort to do it correctly,” Comer said.

Chavez also serves as a TSTC student ambassador. Applicants for that position are interviewed by campus student recruitment staff and chosen for their academic work, along with their communication and leadership skills. He works at campus events, such as the recent Spring Counselors Update, gives tours to campus visitors and assists potential students with their TSTC applications.

“He’s not only gaining the technical skills needed to be a successful machinist, but he is also gaining valuable soft skills to enhance his employability,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC provost.

After graduation in December, Chavez wants to work in an area maintenance shop and possibly pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

He said the first time he walked into TSTC in North Texas’ Industrial Technology Center was during a spring open house event.

“I would have to say TSTC was very convenient for me,” Chavez said. “I didn’t want to go to a university because the environment was very different. I didn’t want to go as big. It’s close to home, and I didn’t really have to spend as much as at other universities.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to


TSTC Hosts Spring Counselors Update

(RED OAK) – More than 40 educators on Friday learned about Texas State Technical College’s mission to help students earn certificates and associate degrees that could lead to great-paying jobs.

The Spring Counselors Update focused on dual enrollment, in-demand jobs and other components of TSTC. The gathering’s goal was to arm educators with new information to help them be advocates for technical education in their schools.

“We show them the best that TSTC has,” said Trey Pearson, coordinator of student recruitment for TSTC’s North Texas and Waco campuses.

TSTC currently has dual enrollment partnerships with 108 Texas high schools. Some of the programs that high school students can take courses in include Automotive Technology, Electrical Power and Controls, and Welding Technology. The goal of dual enrollment is to save students money and time when they get to college.

“From us, you will get 12 to 14 hours in a one-year period in technical education,” said Rene Ralston, TSTC’s director of dual enrollment.

Some of the top occupations projected to grow through 2026 in Texas with salaries above the Texas median wage of $36,168 tie into some of the technical programs TSTC teaches. They include software developing, construction and extraction work supervising, licensed vocational nursing and agricultural management, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Scipio Igbeare, a counselor at Advantage Academy Grand Prairie East, visited TSTC for the first time. She was intrigued by the Computer Aided Drafting and Design, Cyber Security and Welding Technology programs.

“This has been really good information to better guide the students,” she said. “We have been pushing the four-year college for so many years. Not all of the students are ready for four years.”

Lisa Menton, career and technical education director for the Red Oak Independent School District, said she looks forward to sharing what she learned with her staff to better help students meet their potential.

“The challenge is to make the connection with what they can do at the high school level and at college and in high-demand occupations so they can have a good life,” Menton said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC in North Texas Holds Fall Commencement

(RED OAK) – More than 40 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2018 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 17, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

When David Sotelo, 41, of Waxahachie enrolled in 2014, he was the first student to do so at TSTC in North Texas. Now, he can call himself a college graduate.

Sotelo earned the Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Maintenance – Electrical Specialization. He took classes around his work schedule and also took a semester off before taking a mathematics class this fall to finish the degree.

“I’m very happy and excited,” he said. “I didn’t think this day would come.”

He said the degree will help him in his maintenance job at Owens Corning in Waxahachie.

“It changed my life drastically going to this college,” Sotelo said.

Several other graduates already have jobs.

Peyton Allen, 20, of Palmer received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He chose to pursue the degree field because he grew up working on trucks and farming equipment.

He will begin work in the upcoming days in the diesel shop at Dart Container Corp. in Waxahachie.

“I am ready to make money,” Allen said.

Ethan Owen, 22, of Red Oak received a certificate in Industrial Maintenance – Electrical Specialization. He chose the major because he grew up working on a farm.

Owen did an internship this fall at LafargeHolcim in Midlothian and was recently hired to work full time doing mechanical maintenance.

“I’m ready to start my life,” said Owen.

TSTC has more than 900 students graduating this fall across the state.

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TSTC in North Texas Holds Fall Commencement

TSTC Graduates 37 at First Commencement

(RED OAK) – Texas State Technical College in North Texas celebrated its first Commencement on Monday, August. 20 as graduates walked the stage in the presence of their family and friends.

“This is a special occasion,” TSTC Provost Marcus Balch told those gathered at the Waxahachie Convention Center. “Not only are we celebrating our graduates and their accomplishments, but this is the first graduating class to celebrate in a Commencement ceremony held right here at home.”

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He urged the students to keep learning.

“You chose a technical field,” Reeser said. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but technology keeps moving on. It gets better and bigger, faster and stronger every day. You have to accept that this college event is not the end of your constant evolution, but the beginning. You’ve got to know that you have two choices: keep up with the constant changes or be obsolete.”

Diesel Equipment Technology graduate John O’Connell was selected for the Provost Award, a recognition given to a student who has demonstrated high academic performance, exceptional character and student leadership, and who has influenced their peers to strive for excellence.

“With everything I’ve been through, it was definitely a great honor,” O’Connell said. “I did not expect it or see it coming. I’m deeply honored that the school chose me.”

Among its summer graduates, nine Gerdau employees earned their associate degrees in Industrial Maintenance. The graduates attended classes while working full time.

Jeremy Crowder, an electrician with the company, graduated with a 4.0 GPA. He believes that the company investing in educating employees saves on-the-job training time.

“I think we’re getting guys in at a higher education level and with a better skill set when they start,” said Crowder. “Now, we don’t have to train for that skill set at the job.”

TSTC in North Texas graduates earned degrees in eight of the programs offered at the campus — Computer-Aided Drafting & Design Technology, Computer Networking & Systems Administration, Diesel Equipment Technology, Electrical Power & Controls, HVAC Technology, Industrial Maintenance, Logistics Technology and Welding.

Fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 27. For more information on TSTC, visit

First Cohort of Gerdau Workers to Graduate from TSTC

(RED OAK) – The first cohort of workers from Gerdau’s Midlothian Steel Mill will walk the stage at Texas State Technical College’s first Commencement on Monday, Aug. 20, in Waxahachie.

The company began sending employees to further their training at the campus in 2015. The eight students who will walk the stage Monday worked full-time while attending TSTC to earn their associate degrees in Industrial Maintenance.

TSTC Provost Marcus Balch said the college is looking forward to celebrating the occasion.

“We are very excited to not only be able to host our first ever Commencement ceremony here in North Texas, but also to have the opportunity to celebrate the first cohort of Gerdau employees graduating with the AAS in Industrial Maintenance,” he said.

Ryan Hube, Gerdau Midlothian Human Resources Manager, said the employees are already benefiting from their training.

“Many of them have already accepted maintenance apprenticeship positions throughout the mill,” he said. “With continued hands-on training they will hopefully have long careers as industrial millwrights or electricians here at Gerdau.”

Balch said he is proud to see area companies investing in their employees.

“What a tremendous accomplishment, and, what a great company Gerdau is to invest in their employees and provide opportunities for these employees to grow within their organization,” he said. “We at TSTC couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this partnership.”

Sixty students are eligible to graduate from eight of the college’s 10 programs in Red Oak.

The Summer 2018 commencement will be at 6 p.m. at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser will be the featured speaker at the event.

TSTC is registering now for the fall semester. The last day to register is Monday, Aug. 20, and classes begin Monday, Aug. 27.

For more information on TSTC, visit

TSTC Instructor’s Enthusiasm Earns Him Faculty of the Year Award

(RED OAK) – Employees at Texas State Technical College celebrated Employee Appreciation Day in June, a day that included fun for employees and awards for employees of the year.

HVAC Instructor Terry Robinson was chosen as faculty member of the year.

Robinson, a native of Clute, Texas, who has been teaching at TSTC for two years, said he was humbled to receive the honor from his peers.

“I was gratified to get this recognition,” he said. “I think they’ve seen my dedication and the amount of work I put into helping build the HVAC department. When I came here, they had just moved all the equipment from another location, so I had to not only start building stuff to teach with, but I had to build the lab. I think everyone was well-pleased with the effort I put into it.”

Robinson was working as a service manager when he discovered a passion for teaching.

“I enjoyed teaching my technicians and installers how to do things, so I knew that teaching was going to be something I would want to do at some point,” he said. “In 1992 I started teaching, and I’ve been teaching ever since. I’ve also taught at Tarrant County College, Fort Worth Independent Schools’ night adult program and at Cedar Valley College.”

In his teaching style, Robinson swears by his motto: “Those that can, teach passionately.”

“That’s the way I try to approach my teaching. I enjoy communicating with my students and being creative,” he said.

He enjoys showing students the significance of TSTC.

“I’ve seen all types of educational systems — private, proprietary, trade school, junior college — and I like TSTC because I think we’re the best educational value a student can have,” Robinson said. “It’s just such an incredible value for students at a relatively low price.”

Robinson and his wife, a former elementary school teacher, share a passion for education.

“My wife was there the day that I got the award, and it just totally surprised her,” Robinson said. “She had just retired after 41 years of teaching elementary in public schools. In the last 15 years or so, she was a talented and gifted teacher. I always told her, ‘Of course you teach talented and gifted — you live with me!’”

TSTC prides itself on being “a great place to work” and is currently hiring for positions at its 10 campuses statewide. For information on open positions at TSTC, visit