Category Archives: North Texas

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. 

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

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.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC HVAC Technology Program Receives Equipment Gift

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus has received an equipment gift from a Mansfield business.

Century A/C Supply has donated a 25-ton York package unit valued at $15,000 to the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program.

“I was not going to sell it, and I figured I would donate it for a good cause,” said Eric Huddleston, the company’s branch manager.

HVAC Technology students will use the package unit to understand the concept of three-phase wiring and how to troubleshoot three-phase motors.

Rusty Hicks, The TSTC Foundation’s corporate development officer, said the gift signifies the college’s area-wide reach. 

“We are trying to get the word out all over, not just in Ellis County, but all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” he said. “We are seeing some really good results. As long as you have good business partners like Century A/C that understand what we are doing and can donate in-kind, they too — like so many of our employers that hire our students — can see the visible results.”

Douglas McCuen, lead instructor of TSTC’s HVAC Technology program, said Huddleston reached out to him earlier this year about the package unit. McCuen said he is grateful for the equipment.

“He was even kind enough to deliver the equipment to our campus,” McCuen said. “He even had the forethought to have the delivery person bring fork extensions so we could use them on the campus forklift.”

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

TSTC and Midlothian Forge Relationships to Increase Educational Opportunities

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s North Texas campus continues to strengthen relationships with municipalities throughout Ellis County. Midlothian, in the northwest part of the county, has proven to be a supportive partner in promoting technical education to residents.

“There has been a lot of collaboration with Midlothian,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost.

And, there are a lot of people in the area to recruit as potential students.

The city had more than 33,000 residents as of July 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 93 percent of residents age 25 and older have at least a high school education. Twenty-nine percent of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Kyle Kinateder, president and chief executive officer of the Midlothian Economic Development Corp., said TSTC plays an important  role when companies are considering sites in the city. The city has the Midlothian Business Park and RailPort Business Park where companies can consider locating.

“We provide our prospects a variety of information on the many training and educational opportunities available in our community; however, it’s far more impactful when we can connect them with one of our many existing businesses that have a positive, first-hand experience working with TSTC,” he said. “This company-to-company approach helps to ensure our prospects that TSTC was there for our existing businesses and they will be there for them too.”

Kinateder said TSTC’s Automotive Technology, Computer Aided Drafting and Design, Engineering, Precision Machining Technology and Welding Technology are some of the technical programs fitting in with Midlothian’s economic plans.

“A resident of Midlothian could pick from any of the programs and graduate fully qualified for the many open jobs currently available in our area,” he said.

TSTC’s Workforce Training department has done specialized training in the past for the Target Distribution Center and Gerdau Ameristeel, both in Midlothian.

Balch said Gerdau Ameristeel continues to send employees to study in the Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program. The first cohort of company workers graduated from TSTC in summer 2018.

Jayelle Kryder, Gerdau’s human resources manager, said the company has had three graduating cohorts with 31 employees and another two cohorts, or 18 workers, now studying at TSTC. She said the employees come from throughout the plant.

Kryder said TSTC has been able to adapt the curriculum to the company’s specific needs and equipment. The company works with employees’ schedules to enable them to attend classes one day a week. 

“We have been very fortunate to work with such a collaborative team at TSTC,” Kryder said. “Our employees come away from the program with comprehensive technical knowledge in industrial maintenance. We place these students in (Gerdau’s) maintenance apprenticeship positions early in the program so they can pair the technical knowledge they gain at TSTC with hands-on experience at our plant. We have found that to be the best approach to their development.”

Darrell Phillips, manager of Mid-Way Regional Airport in Midlothian, has had meetings with campus leaders on how to work together in the future.

“We do have an interest in education,” he said. “We want to do some sort of educational program at the airport for our region. I want to get the kids in our area interested in aviation. We are open to looking at some type of opportunity.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Area Residents to Benefit From TSTC Scholarships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSTC alumnus designs equipment for West Texas oil field companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

Computer networkers keep people connected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to

TSTC Hosts Drive-In Celebration for Spring Graduates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

Industrial Systems program offers a diversity of classes for TSTC students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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