Category Archives: North Texas

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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TSTC Holds Fall 2019 Commencement

(RED, OAK, Texas) – More than 20 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement held Monday, Dec. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

Several graduates already have jobs, while others are making plans for the future. 

Demarcus Evans and Donna Floyd both graduated with the Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization. 

“We decided teamwork makes the dream work,” Floyd said. “Why not help each other? We love each other, and we want each other to succeed.”

Floyd said she and Evans planned to celebrate their achievement with friends and relatives later Monday night.

The couple said they are awaiting word from a company in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on when to start their new jobs. They plan next to work on bachelor’s degrees at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

Bronc Stewart of Red Oak graduated with a Diesel Equipment Technology certificate. He began TSTC shortly after serving five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“It feels really good,” he said about graduating. “I didn’t think I would go to college, much less graduate.”

Stewart will continue work as a technician at United Ag and Turf in Ennis.

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TSTC Student Ready for His Future Upon Graduation

(RED OAK, Texas) – Working with large diesel equipment is in Cesar Vazquez’s blood.

“I like the noise,” he said. “I have always been in the diesel world. It pays well. There is a shortage of mechanics, so there is job security.”

Vazquez is a candidate for graduation at Texas State Technical College’s Fall 2019 Commencement for the North Texas campus at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center. He is scheduled to receive a Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck certificate of completion. 

Vazquez said his favorite hands-on activities in class dealt with engines and transmissions.

TSTC student Jared Bourgeois of Fort Worth met Vazquez in their Diesel Equipment Technology classes. He will graduate in December with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology.

“He has a lot of knowledge,” Bourgeois said. “He is definitely a leader. He knows what things to get done first.”

Vazquez was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and moved with his family to Texas when he was young. His family lived in Irving before settling in Red Oak.

“I grew up with it since I was 6 years old,” Vazquez said about diesel equipment. “My father had a construction business in Mexico. He’s a truck driver here now.”

Vazquez used self-motivation to start his own business at 16 doing maintenance work on vehicles. He did this while a student at Red Oak High School, where he graduated in 2018.

TSTC student Omar Juarez met Vazquez when they played middle school football in Red Oak. Juarez will graduate in December with a Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck certificate. Juarez said he admires Vazquez’s work ethic.

“He makes sure things are done correctly,” Juarez said. “He is always pushing other people to get better.”

Next spring, Vazquez will finish an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology – Heavy Truck Specialization and hopes to have his commercial driver’s license by next summer. He also wants to look for a job in Ellis County that would enable him to get more engine experience.

“I want to be someone and be known for something,” Vazquez said. “I have been working hard since I was little.”

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TSTC Program Sees Largest Female Cohort

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus has three women enrolled this semester in its Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program, the largest female cohort for that program in the campus’ history.

Biatris Arevalo of Red Oak and Abby Ramsey of Maypearl are pursuing associate degrees, while Tiquila Dawson of Dallas is studying for a program certificate. The women have things in common, including having grown up in the country and being curious about how the equipment works.

“I probably talk to them about working on stuff more than the guys,” Arevalo said.

John Walker, an instructor in TSTC’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program, said the students are enthusiastic and come to class each day ready to work.

“Abby is so sharp,” he said. “Tiquila is coming here to enhance her skills and get set to move up the pay scale. Biatris wants a better income and opportunities. She likes working with her hands.”

The Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program has more than 50 students this semester taking day and night classes. Walker said the program’s goal for the spring semester is starting a new night cohort. Some of the skills students are learning include commercial wiring, electrical theory and machinery installation.

Ramsey is a home-schooled high school senior who began taking dual enrollment classes this year at TSTC. She said picking her major was a natural fit for her.

“I live in a small town where we do a lot of hands-on things,” Ramsey said. “That is the mindset of small towns. My family is very hands-on. If you break it, you fix it.”

Dawson is doing some of this work already at the Kohl’s Distribution eFulfillment Center in DeSoto, where she has been employed for three years. She works three days a week and goes to classes four days a week.

Earlier this semester, she received a $250 scholarship from The TSTC Foundation as part of TSTC’s Shaping You to Get Hired campaign. She said the money enabled her to buy tools and other items for classes.

Dawson said she did not think she would go to college. She grew up in Elkhart and said she did not have the guidance needed to plan for life after high school. But, she had a breakthrough while in circumstances that were not ideal. 

“I guess it was my second time going to prison when I realized you get older, and the years, you can’t get back,” Dawson said. “Either you are going to do right or go back where you have been.”

Dawson said she is content working and going to classes.

“Everything is new to me,” she said. “I am meeting new people. It’s tough trying to work and go to school.”

Arevalo grew up with an interest in robotics and majored in criminal justice at a four-year university before realizing it was not a good fit for her. She also endured a sports injury that took her away from playing soccer.

Arevalo said she had a period when she had to think about her career and incorporating her mathematics and science abilities. She eventually knew TSTC would be the right place for her.

“Here, the instructors explain it, and then you work on it,” she said.

Arevalo said her career goal is to work at Oncor.

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TSTC Career Services Hosts Mock Interview Sessions for Students

(RED OAK, Texas) – Thirteen students in the Diesel Equipment Technology program at Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus had the opportunity Wednesday morning to sit down with industry representatives to practice interview skills.

TSTC’s Career Services department hosted mock interviews in timed sessions for students to learn about their weaknesses and strengths and how to improve.

“I think it served a good purpose for our students,” said Peter Collier, a TSTC Career Services associate.

Jack Cahill of Lewisville is scheduled to graduate in spring 2020 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. He said his interviewer commended him on his enthusiasm.

“It was very valuable,” Cahill said. “I know next time I go into an interview what to expect and how to tackle situations.”

Hayden Rieper of Waxahachie is a Diesel Equipment Technology certificate student who said his interviewer liked his ability to answer questions and how he dressed.

“I learned how to go in more confident and know what to expect from an interview,” he said.

Carlo Amato, director of human resources at construction chemicals manufacturer Mapei Corp. in Deerfield Beach, Florida, which also has a location in Garland, said he was impressed with the students he met.

“I thought the students were earnest and likeable,” he said. “They were open about who they were and what they wanted.”

Amato said while some students need to work on their confidence, each came prepared to answer questions provided by Career Services.

“I see a bright future for all of them,” he said.

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