Man standing in a lab

(ABILENE, Texas) – At first, Calvin Tiner did not think he would go back to college after joining the workforce.

The 2020 Texas State Technical College graduate made the decision to return to college after finding the safety aspect of his jobs compelling. He is currently studying for his second Associate of Applied Science degree at TSTC, this one in Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance (OSEC). He earned his first associate degree in Industrial Systems.

“When I first graduated from TSTC, I worked as an industrial technician at (building products manufacturer) USG and was later put on a safety team,” he said. “I really liked doing that because I knew safety was important. I wanted people to go home the same way they showed up at work, which is safe.”

Tiner, of Abilene, left USG to become a maintenance electrician at Cargill Animal Nutrition, which did not have a safety team at the time. He worked out different plans, including mapping where the company’s fire extinguishers were located, to begin implementing safety standards.

It was during a conversation with Demetri Jones, who at that time also was employed at Cargill but since has returned to teach Industrial Systems at TSTC, that Tiner looked into the OSEC program.

“Demetri said it would be a good opportunity to learn more,” Tiner said of studying to become a safety technician.

Jones said Tiner’s safety knowledge is an asset to Cargill.

“With his previous experience, Calvin was able to go in (at Cargill) and build a safety program,” he said. “He knew what needed to be done because he has a passion for safety.”

Tiner began the OSEC program in August and enjoys going to school.

“I want to know why things are unsafe and implement the proper systems and procedures to make sure people are safe,” he said. 

Tiner also helps Teresa Purcell, the OSEC instructor in Abilene, during class. He regularly attends class on Tuesday morning and discusses situations with Purcell.

“I will take what Calvin and I talk about to my Monday evening class so they can figure out the best solution,” Purcell said. “It helps that he finds situations we can review together to make sure people are safe at his job.”

Tiner has visited the evening classes on different occasions when he is not working.

“It is good when I do visit so we can look for the answers to situations together,” he said.

Tiner said TSTC’s OSEC program is the best way to learn how to become a better occupational health and safety technician.

“You are going to need safety anywhere you work,” he said. “We have the best facility to train in with all of the equipment in our lab. I know I will be ready to be a quality safety officer when I graduate.”

TSTC’s Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and certificates of completion at the Abilene, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses. 

According to, the need for occupational health and safety technicians in Texas was projected to increase 22% from 2020 to 2030. Technicians in Texas can earn a median salary of $52,460, the website stated.

For more information about TSTC, visit

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