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TSTC Hosts Students for FFA Tractor Competition

January 23, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) –  Texas State Technical College’s Diesel Equipment Technology program hosted on Thursday the Texas FFA Association Tractor Technician Career Development Event, which featured 12 high schools from North and Central Texas.

In the Texas FFA Association’s Area 5, Sam Rayburn High School placed first, Wolfe City High School placed second and Campbell High School placed third.

Dru Nichols, a sophomore member of Sam Rayburn High School’s team, said the key to victory was lots of hands-on practice. 

In the Texas FFA Association’s Area 8, Midway High School placed first, Crawford High School placed second and Teague High School placed third.

“It feels rewarding,” said Caleb Montgomery, a sophomore member of Midway High School’s team. “We have all been working on this since September.”

Students on the first-place teams in both areas received TSTC scholarships.

The top three teams from each area will compete in a state FFA tractor technician competition to be held in March at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Teams of three students took a written test and did a parts identification test. The students performed a troubleshooting exercise on John Deere and Kubota tractors donated for the competition by United Ag & Turf and Tipton International, both in Waco. Students drove the tractors once the teams found and repaired the problems.

TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program instructors and students served as contest judges and  created the problems the high school students found in the tractors.

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TSTC First in Texas to Join Tesla START Program

January 23, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) – Starting in March, Texas State Technical College will become the first college in Texas to host the Tesla START training program. 

Tesla START is an accelerated 12-week training program designed to equip students with the skills necessary to become electric vehicle technicians. Following completion of the program, Tesla will work with successful students for placement in a Tesla Service Center in North America. 

Rudy Cervantez, TSTC’s statewide department chair for Automotive Technology, said the advanced training program will teach students to work on Tesla’s electric vehicles. He said graduates of TSTC’s automotive technology, aviation maintenance and electrical programs could be a good fit for the work.

Cervantez said the program is open to everyone in the community to apply, and students will be hired by Tesla. The training program will be housed in Waco at TSTC’s Kultgen Automotive Center. Tesla will provide the instructor, training equipment, vehicles, tools and curriculum for the program. 

Cervantez said each Tesla START class is about a dozen students, and will have three 12-week sessions this year. Students will develop technical expertise and earn certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs and self-paced learning. Students are employed by Tesla as hourly interns.

Kelly Filgo, TSTC’s executive director of special projects, said working with Tesla is a great example of TSTC’s state-directed mandate to emphasize “highly specialized advanced and emerging technical and vocational areas for certificates or associate degrees.”

“Tesla recognizes we are a good pool to pull talent from,” Filgo said.

“For more than fifty years, TSTC has worked hand in glove with Texas employers to fulfill their needs for a skilled workforce,” said Mike Reeser, Chancellor & CEO of TSTC. “This partnership with Tesla is another example of the innovative manner in which we place Texans in great paying jobs.”

There are currently six other Tesla START partnerships with colleges in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Washington. The program launched in 2018 and has had a total of more than 300 graduates to date. 

For more information on Tesla START, go to

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TSTC Hosts Counselor Update

January 18, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(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’s Workforce Training to Offer Solar Energy Class

January 17, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Workforce Training department will host a continuing education class on solar energy from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, in the South Building on the Marshall campus.

“We have a lot of people in East Texas that can make use of solar energy to power up remote areas on their property,” said Dirk Hughes, TSTC’s executive director of Workforce Training in Marshall.

Using solar energy means low water usage, long-term price certainty and energy security, according to the Texas Solar Power Association’s Texas Solar Industry Overview released in March 2019. More than $4.5 billion has been invested in solar projects in Texas, according to the trade association.

“We are seeing solar growth in all parts of the state,” said Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association in Austin. “Our data point is that in the SWEPCO Texas service territory covering part of East Texas, installed solar capacity increased more than 20 percent in 2020, growing from 984 mW to 1,192 kW. East Texas has a good solar resource, and it makes sense that residents would look to take advantage of it.”

Hughes, a registered professional engineer, will teach the course. The cost is $75 and includes a combination of lecture and hands-on training. To register, contact TSTC’s Workforce Training department at 903-923-3442.

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TSTC Culinary Arts Instructors Prepare for International Contests

January 14, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) – Two instructors in Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Arts program enter 2020 preparing for international competitions.

Chef Michele Brown is a member of the Agricultural Culinary Team Manitoba taking part in the IKA/Culinary Olympics in February in Stuttgart, Germany. Brown will handle the team’s pastry arts.

Brown said she is at the point in her preparation to test how to style four different kinds of petit fours on plates. She will also spend time working on the detailed aspects of her desserts, including cocoa painting.

“It is about what makes more sense,” Brown said.

Once in Germany, the team will do final preparations at a kitchen they have arranged to use. 

“It is stress from the 13th of February to the 17th of February, then relax,” Brown said.

Chef Mark Schneider will compete at the Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) Food and Beverage 2020 in early April in Singapore. Schneider was selected to take part because of his membership in the Epicurean World Master Chefs Society.

Schneider started a stringent training schedule last week, with a combination of preparing ingredients and kitchen equipment along with cooking. He plans to use his competition dish twice for upcoming special events and most likely make minor changes up to the contest.

Schneider has also been doing research on Singapore’s cuisine. He will create a seafood dish for the competition, using local fish and some ingredients that are seasonally available.

“It’s a jump from doing anything in the U.S. or Europe,” he said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to 

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