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TSTC students see career opportunities in Industrial Systems program

April 16, 2021 by Ben Barkley

(ABILENE, Texas) – One of the first things students learn in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems program is that many job opportunities await them after graduation.

That was the reason why Jacob Nelson, Levi Taylor and Dalton Tiner decided to enroll in the program. What they have learned over their first two semesters is that they made a good decision for a career.

“There are so many different areas we can choose from. This truly is a jack-of-all-trades program,” said Nelson, of Abilene, who is pursuing a certificate in the program.

Industrial Systems students learn to install, operate, test and maintain equipment in various facilities. The three students, along with their classmates, are learning industry-standard safety procedures, mechanical and electrical skills, diagnostic techniques, how to read and interpret schematics, and how to work with motors, pumps, chillers, boilers, and programmable logic control systems.

Nelson said his family worked in many of the fields covered in the program. It was a perfect opportunity for him to expand his knowledge.

“I am pretty good at welding and working with my hands. I wanted to broaden my skills in that area,” he said, adding that he plans to study for an associate degree.

Taylor, of Hawley, is also pursuing an associate degree in the program and has been impressed with what he has been able to learn in a short time.

“I have learned there are a lot of opportunities available for people who study in this program,” he said.

According to onetonline.org, electrical technician positions are expected to grow by 8% in Texas over the next decade.

That trend has led to younger people enrolling in the program, something instructor Daniel Diaz likes to see.

“With many of our students starting younger, it gives them more time for growth in the industry,” Diaz said. “All of our students see success in the industry. This program helps get them off on the right foot.”

Nelson said having Diaz as an instructor helps him know that what he is learning will be used in the field.

“All of the experience he has had in the field is helpful,” Nelson said. “We know that when we read something, the instructors will tell us about that and how it applies to what we may see in the field. They have seen it, so they can explain it to us and give us their experience in that situation.”

Taylor said having state-of-the-art equipment to train with was another reason he chose to attend TSTC.

“I am a very hands-on person, and having time in the lab is the best part of the program,” he said.

Tiner’s father studied Industrial Systems at TSTC more than 10 years ago. Having the lab sessions today is something that Tiner, of Brownwood, is proud to talk to his father about.

“He had to do a lot more reading back then. He told me that having the equipment here is going to help me prepare for a career,” said Tiner, who is pursuing a certificate of completion in the program.

For more information, visit tstc.edu.

TSTC Computer Programming Technology prepares students for the industry

April 16, 2021 by Naissa Lopez

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Computer Programming Technology at Texas State Technical College equips students with the essential tools they need to continually stay in demand in this rising industry.

The job outlook for computer programmers has not slowed down. In fact, the remote work environment that many people have become familiar with will lead to the need for more technicians who understand the gadgets and gizmos of the devices that connect us to the rest of the world.

“We have not seen a decline in demand for computer programmers and do not expect to see one anytime soon,” said TSTC instructor Shelby Coffman. “In addition, we have been very encouraged to see our recent graduates of the Computer Programming Technology program around the state find employment after graduation despite recent events.”

According to thebalancecareers.com and indeed.com, responsibilities of computer programmers include developing, testing and implementing programs on multiple operating system platforms, creating and publishing technical diagrams to support coding efforts, and integrating new functions into existing applications.

Coffman said that much of the work can be done from a programmer’s own home.

“Computer programming can generally be performed with the resources that most people either already have or are within reach, like a computer and broadband internet connection,” he said. “Aside from the actual act of programming, communication with teammates and clients can be performed remotely utilizing virtual meeting applications.”

Shannon Ferguson, an instructor in the TSTC Computer Programming Technology department, said that TSTC is not only teaching students what it takes to dominate in this field, but also changing the curriculum when needed to keep up with the standards of the industry.

“Technology, as well as industry demand, is continually changing and evolving,” he said. “Like most programs at TSTC, the Computer Programming Technology department regularly reevaluates and adjusts our curriculum to meet the needs of industry partners and demand.”

He said that the ultimate goal is creating graduates who are ready to get to work.

“We work closely with our departmental advisory board to ensure we teach the skills and topics that industry is looking for in prospective employees,” Ferguson said. “Our goal is to make sure that we produce graduates that are ready for the workforce.”

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Photo caption: Computer Programming Technology at Texas State Technical College equips students with the essential tools they need to continually stay in demand in this rising industry.

Helping to save lives motivates EMS instructor at TSTC

April 16, 2021 by Naissa Lopez

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Students enrolled in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services program are in good hands as they learn from instructors who not only have knowledge of the industry, but also have experienced working in the field themselves.

TSTC Emergency Medical Services instructor Ruben Ramirez spends his days in the classroom while also coordinating the curriculum’s classes with the Texas Department of State Health Services. His passion for the field has allowed him the opportunity to help prepare the next generation of emergency medical services professionals for an industry that will always need them.

Why is the emergency medical services profession important?

It is important because of the role we play in public safety. We provide an entry point for the public to gain access to emergency medical care and transportation to the emergency room when needed. At the time of a medical emergency, the public dials 911, and first responders are activated to provide emergency care, giving them access to medical care.

What inspired you to become an instructor?

I really love emergency medical services. The experience I gained in the industry has given me so much. I feel that teaching others about my past experiences is the right thing to do, and I want others to learn from my experiences. I want to give back to the profession as my previous instructors did with me. I have the best of both worlds as an instructor. I get to teach about a profession that I love with a passion.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

As an instructor, seeing the look on my students’ faces and hearing the excitement in their voices when they obtain and reach their goal of becoming an emergency medical technician or a paramedic is always worth it. Being able to interact with a wide variety of students, from traditional to nontraditional, and helping them obtain their educational goals is something I love.

What do you enjoy most about this field?

The ability to say “I helped save a life today.” Being able to make a difference in someone’s life by performing CPR or just holding a hand when somebody is scared and giving them comfort. We are there so that they know they are not alone during a scary and stressful moment. This profession makes for a rewarding career that few will answer the call to, and those that do will have a lifelong, fulfilling career.

To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

Photo caption: Students in the TSTC Emergency Medical Services program receive hands-on experience as they make their way through the curriculum. (Photo courtesy of TSTC.)

East Texas industrial systems jobs are ready for TSTC graduates

April 14, 2021 by Daniel Perry

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Rush Harris, executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corp., said the need for industrial systems workers is being seen right now. 

Harris said he recently has spoken with two companies that need new workers. He said more than 20 companies in Harrison County and surrounding counties are searching for industrial systems employees.

This means job opportunities for graduates of Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization in Marshall.

Edward Chaney, TSTC’s statewide chair of the Industrial Systems Technology program, said students focus on an array of skills in hands-on labs. Some of the classes taught in Marshall focus on basic hydraulics, basic electrical theory, compressors, and programmable logic controllers.

“Our students in Marshall are given a heavy dose of electrical skills but are also backed up with the mechanical skills needed to tie the two together and make a well-rounded technician,” Chaney said.

He said the goal is for students to experience as much as they can about the work they will encounter after graduation.

“We don’t have near enough students to be able to fill the demand for good technicians,” Chaney said. “With an Industrial Systems Technology skill set, graduates have plenty of options available for placement, so the jobs are out there.”

Harris said industrial systems, like other technical fields, will see many workers retiring and newer employees needed to fill positions in the next few years.

“This creates an excellent opportunity for a high school graduate to move on and get an accessible two-year education specializing in industrial systems, where they will likely earn well above the median household income in Marshall,” Harris said. “These skills are in demand and can be learned for a reasonable price that allows a single person to make more money than most combined households bring in.”

The highest-paying career in the industrial systems field in the third quarter of 2020 in the East Texas Council of Governments’ 14-county region was electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation and relay, with those workers earning an annual mean wage of $70,800.

Harris said in the Marshall area, there are more than 2,100 workers in jobs that involve industrial systems. Their annual wages can be as high as $66,000, depending on industry and occupation.

TSTC’s Marshall campus offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization and an Industrial Systems Mechanic – Electrical certificate. Students have the opportunity to earn an Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 technician certification for handling refrigerants.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters continues at Texas State Technical College. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

Lifeguard Ambulance Service EMTs travel similar paths to TSTC

April 13, 2021 by Ben Barkley

(BROWNWOOD, Texas) – Two Lifeguard Ambulance Service emergency medical technicians began their medical careers in similar fashion.

Michelle Bates and Brittney Evans did not immediately begin studying to become EMTs. Now the two first responders are completing their third semester in Texas State Technical College’s Emergency Medical Services Paramedic program.

Bates, of Fort Worth, earned a college scholarship to play soccer and originally wanted to study clinical psychology.

“It was a couple of years, but I decided I wanted to study emergency medical services,” she said. “I first brought it up to my parents, and they were not sure that was something I should do.”

A couple of years later, Bates returned to her parents and was met with a positive response.

“I really got into the work, and it became my passion,” she said. “My parents are now 100 percent supportive of my decision.”

Evans, of Bangs, said she took time after high school to think about her career options. It was not until 2013 that becoming an EMT entered her mind.

“I fell in love with the EMS world,” she said.

Like Bates, Evans said her family has been supportive of her decision to become a paramedic. The mother of one and with one on the way said it has been hard to juggle family, work and school.

“I am ecstatic to get this done. I am so happy I have gotten this far,” she said. “My husband has been there the entire time supporting me.”

Bates had to face adversity during the past few months. She contracted the coronavirus and was quarantined during and after her illness. But she persevered in her studies through the help of TSTC EMS instructor Tim Scalley, who pushed her to get back into the lab sessions.

“He has been amazing and has taught us so much,” she said. “I had to tell myself to not kill myself to get everything done when I got back. I am not suffering now.”

Both Bates and Evans said their co-workers are excited for them to complete the program. They plan to stay with the company, but Evans said that does have one disadvantage.

“It is hard to help someone you know, but it is good that we are helping people,” she said.

Bates said the Paramedic program is challenging, but the rewards pay off.

“You have to know that you are here to learn and things are not going to happen quickly,” she said. “The best advice I can give anyone is to stay calm and take it one day at a time.”

Evans offered similar advice for prospective students.

“You are going to have to hunker down and be serious about the program. There will be a lot of sacrifices,” she said. “I have learned that the more you put into it, the more you get out of what you learn.”

When Bates and Evans complete the program, they will join more than 26,000 EMT-paramedics employed in the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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