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TSTC Avionics Graduate Motivated by Perseverance

April 03, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) – Jeffrey Potts’ fascination with aviation began when he was in high school in Michigan.

He later joined the military and attended Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus, where he graduated in December 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Avionics Technology.

“I loved my time in the avionics program,” said Potts, who now lives in Whitney in Hill County. “I learned so many things that I use every day at both work and home, everything from how electronics work to how complex systems interact with each other.”

Three days after graduating from TSTC, Potts began work as an avionics technician at JAG Aviation in McGregor.

Potts said his motivation comes from the American dream.

“Yes, I know that sounds cliche,” he said. “However, I’ve seen what hard work and perseverance can do for people.”

Texas had more than 2,900 avionics technicians with an annual mean wage of $64,110 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs for avionics technicians are projected to be at 21,000 by 2028, according to the agency.

After graduating from high school, Potts joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He trained in California and North Carolina before being sent to the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy in San Angelo. He later served in Hawaii as an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist.

“I liked working around aircraft so much that I decided to work on them,” Potts said.

Potts chose TSTC because of its aviation programs and the desire to start a new life in Texas. While attending college, he worked part time at Ellison Avionics Services in Waco as an avionics technician performing component-level repairs on avionics systems and radios.

Potts’ advice to prospective students is to pay attention to instructors.

“It was enjoyable having Jeffrey as a student,” said Martin Segraves, TSTC’s chair of the Avionics Technology program. “He’s smart, quick-witted and a skilled problem solver.”

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Alumnus returns to TSTC to help train area workers

April 02, 2020 by Ben Barkley

(ABILENE, Texas) – While attending Snyder High School in 1985, Terry Steelman was impressed with Texas State Technical College.

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years and the private sector for several more, Steelman still remembered his visit to the Sweetwater campus.

“When I got out of the Marine Corps, I knew I wanted to go back to school. TSTC was my first choice,” Steelman said.

After graduating from TSTC in 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems, Steelman was hired as the workforce trainer at the Abilene campus.

His first few weeks included sessions he needed in order to provide workforce training to area businesses.

“Terry had a lot of military training and earned military certificates, but he did not have training for the civilian side. His first few days on the job included OSHA training,” said TSTC Workforce Training Executive Director John Dosher.

Steelman will provide training for businesses in West Texas, including what Dosher called big projects at plants in Sweetwater and Abilene.

“We set up meetings with different companies. We will do whatever training they want us to do,” Steelman said. “We will look at the curriculum they want us to teach.”

Having Steelman based in West Texas will benefit TSTC, Dosher said.

“Having Terry here in West Texas will open a lot of opportunities,” he said, adding that some previous training was either provided by instructors from Waco or outsourced. “That made our prices higher. With Terry on board, we are going to be more competitive.”

Steelman said his top priority will be to provide what the customers want.

“We are going to listen to the customers. We are going to provide them with quality training opportunities,” he said.

Dosher said Steelman has strengthened TSTC’s training opportunities.

“His bank of knowledge is surpassed by most everyone,” he said. “This is going to be a new experience for him. I know he is up to the challenge.”

One of those challenges will be fast-track courses

“I plan for him to lead some of our certificate courses and turn them into fast-track classes. Instead of 12 months to complete, it could be a six- to eight-week class,” Dosher said. “That is a huge possibility for us. With his knowledge, we will be able to deliver classes not seen before.”

For more information on TSTC Workforce Training, go to

TSTC Programs Teach Students About Respirator Usage

April 02, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) – What people wear on their faces to protect themselves has taken on greater importance in the time of COVID-19.

“We train our students how to determine which type of respirator is proper for various tasks,” said Mark Wilfert, an instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Occupational Safety Compliance Technology program in Waco. “When they get into the industry, it will be a responsibility that some of them will be required to perform.”

Wilfert said students learn how workers need to be protected from airborne hazards in two industrial hygiene classes. In the program’s fourth-semester Safety Program Management course, students learn how to write a respiratory protection plan.

“Our students are required to fit test each other using qualitative methods while wearing respirators,” Wilfert said. “They also are required to disassemble and reassemble the respirator for proper cleaning.”

A respirator is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as personal protection equipment that blocks people from inhaling dangerous chemicals, dust, gases, smoke and other substances. Respirators can range from masks worn in the health care environment to heavy equipment used by firefighters.

OSHA sets guidelines on how respirators should fit over the face, along with their storage, maintenance and disposal.

“Quantitative fit testing requires the use of a machine, which is typically done by other trained professionals,” Wilfert said. “It is, however, usually the responsibility of safety personnel to make sure certain people are trained on respirator use. Discussing facial hair and company policy will be included in the training.”

The N95 respirator is the one most commonly used in the health care field.

“We teach personal protection equipment and handwashing as the first things in the lab in their Applied Nursing Skills class,” said Marchelle Taylor, TSTC’s Vocational Nursing program director in Breckenridge. “This is done before they go to clinicals to protect the patients, families and themselves before they ever go out into the real world.”

The Better Business Bureau has issued a scam alert regarding fake masks being sold online. The agency said people buying them are typically doing so from online retailers they have not shopped with before. The agency said the temporary websites are ways for scammers to get names and credit card information. If masks are ordered, they may not make it into the hands of consumers, according to the agency.

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TSTC Cybersecurity Program: Use Different Passwords for Online Shopping

April 02, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(HUTTO, Texas) – As Central Texans adapt to an uncertain future of self-isolation and businesses temporarily closing, online shopping is becoming the way for consumers to acquire what they want.

“That is where everybody is headed, especially with the coronavirus,” said Joshua Schier, a Cybersecurity instructor at Texas State Technical College’s Williamson County campus. “It is the way for us to have less contact. It is a simple convenience. Anyone who uses Amazon realizes how nice it is.”

People who are new to online shopping could be prime targets for scammers.

“These scammers capitalize on every opportunity like this anytime there is panic and fear and people are vulnerable,” Schier said.

He said consumers should diversify the passwords they use for online accounts.

“To do that, people are using a password manager to hold and store them,” he said.

Schier cautioned against shopping through mobile and social media apps because of security risks.

The Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration recently sent warning letters to seven companies selling essential oils, teas and other products claiming to prevent or treat COVID-19, according to a blog recently written by Colleen Tressler, an FTC agency consumer education specialist.

“Both agencies will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies do not continue to market fraudulent products under a different name or on another website,” Tressler wrote.

In 2018, the Better Business Bureau received more than 28,000 complaints and at least 10,000 scam reports nationwide related to online shopping.

Emily Gaines, a public relations coordinator for the Better Business Bureau in Austin, said scammers are using health as a way to get to consumers.

“Medical face masks can be counterfeited and sold at a lesser quality than advertised, making them less safe than the consumer would hope,” Gaines said. “Scammers may advertise fake cures or preventions for sale, and there are currently no FDA-approved vaccines, drugs or preventions available to purchase online.”

The bureau recommends consumers do online research before making purchases. The agency advises to research sellers, use a credit card for secure online payments, take time to think about purchases and keep documentation of all orders.  And, consumers should not do online shopping using Wi-Fi hotspots because of security concerns.

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TSTC Visual Communication Technology Student Honored With Scholarship

April 01, 2020 by Daniel Perry

(WACO, Texas) — Shannon Hudson of Riesel grew up with an interest in drawing and fashion, and she had a vision of starting a T-shirt business.

She realized she did not have the technical skills to make her a plan a reality.

“So, I decided to learn about something that I was really passionate about,” Hudson said. “Texas State Technical College was a great choice for me because I’m a very hands-on learner. I wanted to learn something very specific.”

Now her dedication to the visual design field has been recognized.

Hudson has received the Baxter + Korge Education Scholarship from the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston. She will be honored at the organization’s scholarship luncheon in October. 

“Ms. Hudson carries out her assignments going above and beyond,” said Stacie Buterbaugh, an instructor in TSTC’s Visual Communication Technology program. “She is eager to learn new techniques using graphic design software to help bring her conceptual ideas to fruition. In the classroom, she is often seen participating in lectures and collaborating with her fellow classmates as she serves as our department’s peer tutor.”

Hudson’s inspiration to pursue her degree comes from her two young daughters.

“As a single mom, I am motivated every single day to be the best role model and provider I can possibly be,” she said. “I’m far from perfect. But in their eyes, I want them to see their mom as someone who went against all odds and decided to pursue her dream and make it happen.”

Hudson said TSTC continues to provide her with a good education at a reasonable cost and a nurturing learning environment.

“TSTC has been a wonderful learning experience,” she said. “The small classrooms allow for such a personal experience and relationships with your mentors, which is a rarity in this day and age.”

Hudson is scheduled to graduate from TSTC in spring 2021 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Visual Communication Technology. After graduation, she wants to work in branding and campaign management.

“I absolutely love coming up with stories for companies to use to make their products fun and exciting,” she said. “I really enjoy thinking outside the box and bringing things to life. It is my ultimate goal to work somewhere that allows me to do that.”

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