(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Anyone can dream up an idea, but it takes manufacturing to bring that dream to life.
“Without manufacturing, nothing gets made,” said Matt Sykora, a representative for Haas Automation.
Such a crucial facet of the economy requires highly trained workers, which Texas State Technical College works to provide with its Precision Machining Technology program.
During the fall 2021 semester, the Gene Haas Foundation gave a total of $80,000 through The TSTC Foundation to support six of TSTC’s campuses across the state. Campuses in East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and North Texas each received $12,000. TSTC’s campus in Waco received $20,000.
All six campuses offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Precision Machining Technology (PMT) and a certificate of completion in Machining. The Fort Bend County, Marshall and Waco campuses also offer an occupational skills award in Basic Machining.
Sykora, a TSTC graduate himself, presented the gift at TSTC’s North Texas campus.
“My degree has afforded me a life that really was beyond what I dreamed of,” he said. “Over the years, Haas has entrusted TSTC with millions of dollars that’s allowed students to be taught on state-of-the-art equipment. It’s actually something I find a lot of joy in doing.”
Rusty Hicks, The TSTC Foundation’s corporate development officer for North Texas, looks forward to the scholarships the gift will create for students on his campus.
“This has a huge impact, as many of these students are still experiencing tough times due to COVID-related issues,” he said. “A special thank-you to the Gene Haas Foundation for truly making a difference with their very kind and generous donation.”
Pete Rowe, The TSTC Foundation’s vice president of External Relations and the field development officer for the Waco campus, celebrated the partnership between the college and the Gene Haas Foundation.
“They provide equipment to train our students on, they provide scholarships, they hire our graduates,” he said. “They’re just very generous to us. It’s just a first-class organization from top to bottom, and TSTC is very fortunate.”
The Fort Bend County campus is TSTC’s newest location in the state, and this gift is the first to the campus from the Gene Haas Foundation.
“We’re very fortunate to have industry partners like this,” said John Kennedy, a senior field development officer with The TSTC Foundation at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus. “Haas is a product that is tried and true in the education we deliver to students, and we look forward to exploring further relationships down the road.”
Dennis Engelbert, a Champions Machine Tool Sales representative who presented the gift in Fort Bend County, has witnessed the potential for success in this field.
“I love visiting customers — these are small, family-owned businesses in many cases,” he said. “These all started in the industry, working in some other shop for a couple years, and then they all go out on their own. It’s really a great path to being a business owner. The machining world is easy to do that in, and they can make a great living doing that. It’s a great transition without going into many years of college.”
Machining technicians are in high demand in East Texas, said Blake Cox, an associate field development officer for The TSTC Foundation at TSTC’s Marshall campus.
“These technicians need top-notch training,” he said. “With that in mind, we’re very honored to have the support of the Gene Haas Foundation. They’ve enhanced our PMT program with equipment donations, and their annual scholarship donation has helped many of our PMT students overcome financial barriers.”
Chris Rooney, a sales manager at Haas Factory Outlet Dallas, recognized the importance of industry support in education — especially when those students are likely to become future manufacturing employees.
“There’s a reason why Haas sells so many machines — because that’s what these young people in the trade field are learning on,” he said. “We make sure they’re able to continue to do these programs because it’s what’s creating the next generation of machinists. It’s very important to us working in that field.”
Often that level of support is integral to students completing their studies at TSTC.
“We deeply appreciate this support from the Gene Haas Foundation,” said Richard Mesquias, senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation on TSTC’s Harlingen campus. “Donations like these really make a difference and go a long way in helping TSTC students achieve their educational dreams.”
Educational grants like the gift from the Gene Haas Foundation aim to close the skills gap between the growing number of jobs that require skilled technicians and not enough workers to fill them — a mission the college shares.
“Manufacturing is key to our survival as it supports so many industries,” said Aaron Hayes, a representative of Haas Factory Outlet in Buda. “The reason we have always led the nation in innovation is our support of engineering and manufacturing programs with continued education to further this field. We hope that the money will be put to good use for students to advance the machining industry.”
With that level of support and involvement from industry partners, TSTC will continue to fulfill its mission: training Texans for good-paying careers.
“We hear over and over again how impressed our industry partners are with the quality of students that come from our program,” said Michael Smith, The TSTC Foundation’s vice president of development. “We constantly praise Haas because of the equipment we have. We’re able to provide world-class, industry-standard training because of them.”
TSTC recognizes that manufacturing is an essential facet of the economy and is certain that its Precision Machining Technology graduates have a bright career ahead of them. The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee. If graduates do not get hired in their field within six months of obtaining their degree, TSTC will refund their tuition.
The Gene Haas Foundation was established in 1999 to support the needs of the local community. Its founder, Gene Haas, is the CEO of Haas Automation Inc., a maker of computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine tools.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.