Category Archives: North Texas

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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TSTC Hosts Back-to-School Bash

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College held its Back-to-School Bash on Thursday at its North Texas campus in Red Oak.

Students, faculty and staff were treated to hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and sodas. Those attending gathered at tables arranged in the first floor hallway of the Jim Pitts Industrial Technology Center.

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, said there were many things to be excited about as the new academic year begins.

Balch said the number of Red Oak High School students taking dual enrollment classes at TSTC has increased from 75 last year to 125 this year. Also, recruitment and dual enrollment staff from TSTC will be at the high school 20 hours a week to work with students on post-high school plans.

Students will soon be learning in an expanded lab space for the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program.

Balch said he is pleased to see growth in the Electrical Power and Controls program, which has about 20 TSTC students this semester. The program, along with Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Cyber Security, Diesel Equipment Technology, Industrial Systems and Welding Technology, offers day and night classes.

“We have some quality students coming in,” Balch said.

Christian Correa of Ferris is a first-year Welding Technology student pursuing a certificate. He chose welding because he did it in high school. His goal is to learn as much as he can before graduating and pursuing a job in the oil and gas industry.

“Eventually I want to have a shop with my brother, who graduated from here in Diesel Equipment Technology,” Correa said.

Carlos Barcenas of Venus is also a first-year student studying for a Welding Technology certificate.

“I didn’t have plans after high school but decided to try it,” Barcenas said about attending TSTC. “Everyone treats you different in a good way.”

After graduation, Barcenas wants to get a job doing tungsten inert gas welding.

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TSTC Welcomes New Faculty to Campus

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College has welcomed two new instructors to its Red Oak campus.

Douglas McCuen is teaching in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology program, and Jacob Usery is in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program. Both started teaching on Aug. 26, the first day of TSTC’s fall semester.

“I think anytime new professionals with different backgrounds come on campus, there is always a collaboration between the other faculty and new faculty members and the staff,” said Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus. “I think everyone has a different set of backgrounds and experiences that make us stronger and better in what we do.”

McCuen has more than 30 years of professional experience in the HVAC field in New Mexico and Texas. He said he wanted to pursue teaching because it is a new challenge. Before coming to TSTC, he previously owned a business in San Antonio.

“I have noticed how the students are really interested in the life experiences I have obtained through being able to tell them what I ran across and have seen,” McCuen said.

In 1984, McCuen received an associate degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration from the Technical Vocational Institute (now Central New Mexico Community College) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Usery worked in the private sector and for a school district in Johnson County before coming to TSTC. He said watching what teachers were doing with their students inspired him to move into the classroom.

“I was drawn to it, and I wanted to help people learn what I have picked up over the years,” Usery said.

Usery said he had some nerves on his first day of teaching, but said he is quickly getting comfortable working with students who are a variety of ages.

“I love what I do now,” he said. “It’s just exciting to me. I want to be part of making people better.”

Usery grew up in Red Oak less than two miles from TSTC’s campus. He is a 1998 graduate of Red Oak High School and a 2010 graduate of Western Governors University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology.

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TSTC Holds Summer 2019 Commencement

(RED OAK, Texas) – More than 40 graduates received certificates and associate degrees at Texas State Technical College’s Summer 2019 Commencement held Friday, Aug. 16, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

“As we come to the close of another semester, it is exciting to witness yet another group of students-turned-graduates talk about job offers and opportunities that lie before them,” said Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost for the North Texas campus. “All have worked tremendously hard to reach this milestone in their educational career, and it is quite easy to see just how excited each one is to begin their new chapter.”

Some students have already been hired for jobs in their fields.

Edward Price of Alvarado will receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Equipment Technology. 

“My wife and I discussed it to take it a little bit easier as we get closer to retirement,” he said. “Teaching had been discussed. In 2016, I got injured and had to have surgery on my knee and that did not heal well, so my ability to go back on the floor as a diesel mechanic was over. I had to make a career change.”

Price has been hired to teach Diesel Equipment Technology at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus in Rosenberg.

“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I am nervous. I have been a trainer on many jobs, but I have not taught in a classroom environment. I think everything is going to be good.”

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Red Oak ISD Tours TSTC Campus in Waco

(RED OAK, Texas) – Representatives of the Red Oak Independent School District traveled to Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus on Thursday to see its technical programs firsthand and talk about future collaboration with TSTC. 

Marcus Balch, TSTC’s provost at the North Texas campus in Red Oak, led the school district’s delegation. He said the visit was a way for staff from the school district and TSTC to learn more about each other’s missions. TSTC’s North Texas campus is located next to Red Oak High School and shares its parking lot.

“I think it went really well,” Balch said. “I hope we can find more ways to connect and be more strategic.”

Some of the technical programs the group visited include Aviation Maintenance, Culinary Arts, Electrical Lineworker Technology, Instrumentation and Welding Technology.

“I like the amount of different programs that are available and the first-rate equipment the students have to work with,” said Red Oak High School Principal Miller Beaird.

Beaird said he enjoyed seeing TSTC’s commitment to showing students’ ways to be successful and employable in the workplace. He said some of what he heard could benefit future graduates of Red Oak High School, citing that up to 40 percent of the school’s graduates do not immediately find employment or enroll in college after they graduate. 

“TSTC could help decrease that number,” Beaird said.

Lisa Menton, the Red Oak school district’s career and technical education director, said about 100 Red Oak High School students will be taking dual enrollment classes starting this fall at TSTC. She said this is a number that can grow as students and faculty learn more about TSTC’s offerings at other campuses.

Menton said some of the technical programs she liked were Building Construction Technology and Electrical Power and Controls.

“I gained a lot of good knowledge I can pass on to the teachers,” she said.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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