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(ROSENBERG, Texas) – This fall, Texas State Technical College’s Computer Networking and Systems Administration, Cybersecurity, and Drafting and Design programs will offer students the choice to complete their training either fully online or in a format that combines online learning with in-person lab time — opportunities that have not been available in these programs since before the pandemic.

Computer Networking and Systems Administration students who enroll in the in-person/online learning format can look forward to getting their hands on network cables, servers, and Cisco routers and switches in the lab, TSTC instructor Renee Blackshear said.

“It will be industry-level engagement,” she said. “We also get to work with students on their soft skills and help pull them out of their shells.”

Students have the power to select flexible lab times based on their schedules, with the added benefit of connecting with instructors who offer real-world advice and experience.

“I’m hoping that when students come to labs, it will allow them to open up to us; building connections with them was the one thing that I missed during the pandemic,” TSTC instructor Adrian Medrano said. “I think being able to physically connect things together is going to help in students’ learning processes.”

Blackshear and Medrano urged prospective students to take advantage of the opportunity to schedule time to tour the facilities and see where they will be studying — and the equipment they will work with.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree, certificates of completion and an occupational skills award in Computer Networking and Systems Administration, as well as an advanced technology certificate in Cloud Computing.

In Texas, computer network support specialists can earn an average annual salary of $62,280, according to onetonline.org, which forecasts that the number of these positions will grow 17% in the state through 2028.

TSTC Cybersecurity instructor Norma Colunga-Hernandez has also missed day-to-day and face-to-face interactions with students. She hopes that the in-person/online format of training will help to reestablish a campus cybersecurity club.

Colunga-Hernandez highly encourages students who are new to the Cybersecurity program to choose the in-person/online format, especially in their initial semesters.

“For new students, this is going to be their first time seeing this equipment and information,” she said. “It’s really important that they get the help they need so they can build a really strong foundation.”

Ideally, having Cybersecurity instructors in labs will help students advance, Colunga-Hernandez added.

“We can watch over their shoulder and see if they’re struggling,” she said. “They can get their answers faster and progress better.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree, certificates of completion and occupational skills awards in Cybersecurity — plus an advanced technology certificate in Digital Forensics Specialist.

Information security engineers can earn an average annual salary of $84,220 in Texas, according to onetonline.org. The number of these positions is forecast to grow by 20% throughout the state by 2028, the website shows.

Whether TSTC Drafting and Design students are pursuing degrees in Architectural/Civil Drafting Technology or Engineering Graphics and Design Technology — or a blend of both in Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Technology, they will be able to get access to industry-level tools and equipment when they take advantage of the in-person/online format.

That includes CAD stations, gaming-level laptops, plotters, laser printers and traditional drafting tables.

“It’s going to benefit students in several ways,” TSTC instructor Bryan Clark said. “They’re going to have a place they can come to. They’re not going to have to buy a computer and source a space in their house and hope everyone is quiet so they can get their work done. There will be a seat available for them and a qualified instructor to answer any questions.”

TSTC instructor Corby Myers agreed, citing the industry experience that instructors can share with their students.

“To me, the biggest benefit to students is when they walk into the lab, there will be two instructors who have spent years in the industry doing the job that we are preparing them to do,” he said. “If they have questions not only about the coursework but about what’s it like out there, what can they expect on the first day of the job — or the 366th day on the job — we can tell them because we’ve been there.”

In its Drafting and Design program, TSTC offers a variety of specialized associate degrees, certificates of completion and occupational skills awards.

According to onetonline.org, architectural and civil drafters can earn an average annual salary of $59,110 in Texas, while mechanical drafters can earn an average of $60,300 a year.

Fall enrollment for TSTC is underway. Learn more at tstc.edu.

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