Archive for the 'Technical Education Awareness' Category

The Boss Speaks About TSTC

September 19th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

He not only the President of TSTC Waco, he’s also a graduate!  Click below to see the local news interview with Elton Stuckly:

Go to the interview.

(Clarification: The anchor is talking about the Community College Week number one rating for TSTC Waco in Engineering Technologies.  My post about that is here.)

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We’re Number One!

September 19th, 2009 | Category: Technical Education Awareness

Note: For some reason I started this post some time ago and then forgot to post it!

Did I mention that TSTC Waco granted more Associate degrees in the engineering technologies than any other two-year college in the country?  Read about it here.

We are also are also 4th nationwide among two-year schools for Associate degrees in computer and information sciences and support, 12th in precision production, and in the top fifty in agriculture and sciences.

All of this is according to the June 15 Community College Week.

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The Joy of Technical Education (10)

September 16th, 2009 | Category: Joy, Skills in Demand, Technical Education Awareness

As I was attending the ceremony opening the new Clearview data center in Waco, I ran into the young man pictured below.

Matthew Pevey greeted me and reminded me that he was a student of mine.  He is now a graduate of the Computer Networking & Systems Administration program at TSTC Waco.  He is also the Operations Supervisor at the new data center!  He has several other TSTC graduates working for him and hopes to have more before long.

I love what we do!

The Clearview data center opening is another reason to love what we do.  TSTC and the Texas Workforce Commission partnered to meet their personnel needs. Clearview is very happy with the graduates they hired after interviewing at the college.

Waco Mayor Virginia Dupuy cuts the ribbon surrounded by the Clearview partners and Sarah Roberts from the Greater Waco Chamber. (best snap ever from an iPhone 3G - I think it was the lighting)

This interior shot shows a room ready to be packed with super-dense blade servers.

The building, an old fallout shelter, is perfect for safe data storage.  They have ramped up the power (5 MW from 4 different circuits plus 2 backup generators - expandable to 15MW) and the cooling.  The fiber connections are ready to go.

For more about the new center, please read here.

UPDATE: KXXV Channel 25 has posted video from the event, including a short interview with TSTC high performance computing guru Walton Yantis (warning: an advertisement comes first).

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Igniting a Desire to Learn STEM*

Watching this video from the NBC evening news will help you understand the post that follows.

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Yesterday, we had the privilege to visit the founder and board of the IGNITE program in Fredericksburg, Texas. The high school rocketry program, founded by teacher Brett Williams in the mid-nineties, has spread across the state and is moving across the borders.  TSTC is looking for ways to partner with the IGNITE/SystemsGo program as it grows.

The learning is entirely project-based.  Students work in teams to design working  hybrid rockets that meet the specifications for each part of the curriculum.  It has been very successful.  To quote Mr. Williams:

This is a whole new way of teaching. We really are working on not just educating our students, but developing them for the workforce. Coming out of this high school program, these students will understand design and development, testing, analysis, and program management - all things the industry needs in the workforce of tomorrow.

Here are some pictures from our trip (warning - low quality iPhone snaps ahead):

Brett Williams (right) in his classroom discussing rocket science with TSTC System Chancellor Dr. Bill Segura.

Another view of the Fredericksburg High School “rocket room.” TSTC Waco President Elton Stuckly is pictured facing the camera next to Dr. Segura. You can see from here that the room is part of an old auditorium which has been divided into rooms.

Redbird 10, designed by high school students,  which will be launched at White Sands.  They are hoping for 100,000 feet.

Redbird 10 fin detail. The legs behind give you an idea of scale.  This a big metal bird.

The nosecone, designed and built by the students, will likely carry a university research payload.

Access to valve area where the N2O (nitrous oxide) oxidizer will be released to facilitate the burning of the otherwise inert solid fuel.  This system is much safer than a standard solid fuel rocket in which the fuel and oxidizer are permanently mixed together.

Failure IS an option!  These are the remains of a rocket that crashed at White Sands, possibly due to a failure in the system which releases the oxidizer.  The students have been doing a failure analysis.

All of the technologies required to build a rocket are vital to the United States as a world power.  Here we see an increasingly rare sight - a real machine shop in a high school.  A consortium of local machine shops also help the students with their projects.

Some thoughts about the program:

  • It works.  The students involved are going on to study engineering and engineering technologies in college
  • There was a lot of inspiration and determination to do the impossible on the part of Brett Williams
  • The Fredericksburg Independent School District and the entire community had great courage and confidence to make this possible
  • It can be, and is being replicated

As Mark Long of TSTC Publishing said while we were there, “It would have been a good idea anywhere, but it happened here first for a reason.”  Kudos to those visionaries who were willing to put hard work behind their visions.  Lives are being changed because of it.

*STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

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Florida Teen Loves to Fly

September 15th, 2009 | Category: Technical Education Awareness

See a great article about a Florida teen who chose technical education - in Texas!

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Remembering 9/11

September 11th, 2009 | Category: General, Technical Education Awareness

There is a great guest column in the Waco Trib today written by one of our Automotive students who was working at the Pentagon on 9/11.  Let’s all pause and remember on this day.

BTW - A lot of people would find it hard to understand why a retired Colonel would want to study Automotive Technology.  I don’t.  There are a lot of intangible rewards in working with your hands.  Also, it’s something he has always wanted to do!

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Congressman Visits Aviation at TSTC

September 04th, 2009 | Category: Technical Education Awareness

The story and photos are in the Waco Trib.

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Student Appreciation Day

September 04th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

Here is my video of the TSTC Student Appreciation Day lunch where we serve our students free burgers.  It is all a part of the big Welcome Week activities.  Unfortunately, this was my first shot at editing HD and I need to update my tools.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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More on the First Week

September 03rd, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

As I walked around this morning to catch up on what was going on, I ran across these scenes:

Automotive students intently watching their instructor do a demonstration.

Mr. Jerry Shaw teaching students about Photoshop

—- And on the not-so-positive side:

Enormous lines at the bookstore.  A big increase in enrollment and trouble with the computers have us well behind in getting books to our students.  I think we began to turn the corner this afternoon.

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From Mermaid to Wonder Woman?

August 31st, 2009 | Category: Skills in Demand, Technical Education Awareness

Helen Ginger is the author TSTC Publishing has tapped to write many of the books in our Tech Careers series. There was an article about her last week in the Dallas Examiner with the catchy title, Helen Ginger goes from mermaid to Wonder Woman.  She gives some details about the hard work she puts into researching and writing each one of these books on a three month deadline.

Although I have met a number of our authors, I haven’t had that honor with Ms. Ginger.  She sounds like a very interesting person and she’s also a blogger!


More TSTC Life in Pictures

August 31st, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

The 2009-2010 Student Government Association Officers (from left) Vice President Aaron Jones, President Jay Hicks, Treasurer Joshua Norvell, State Host Representative Jessica Skinner.

The first of many New Student Orientation groups for the fall 2009 semester. (Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI Student)

Hispanic Student Association members watch as Avionics student Fernando Lopez flips burgers at the HSA free burger event held at the gazebo. (Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI Student)

Summer 2009 Commencement at the Heart of Texas Coliseum

For more TSTC Waco pictures - visit the Flickr page.

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What is GIS?

Follow this link for a video explanation from TSTC’s GIS expert Lee Hilliard.

GIS is a very cool and underexposed area of study.  A lot of great jobs are available in the public and private sectors.  In my waning days of teaching database management courses I loved my GIS majors.  I had several distance and hybrid delivery students who were active in the field.  They turned in fascinating projects.

For more information on GIS, start here.  For more on GIS at TSTC, check out this link.

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Achieving the Technical Education Dream

August 29th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

Via Micheal Bettersworth, please take a look at this piece from Inside Higher Ed about Kellogg Community College’s efforts to provide skills training that is flexible and customized.  Also, be sure to look at the college’s Program Builder program all done up in ASP.NET.  They will sell training in increments like .17 or .58 credits. What great way to deliver technical education!  No more “one size fits all” philosophy at Kellogg!

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A Visit to the Future of Spaceflight

I recently went with a number of my colleagues from TSTC on a visit to the SpaceX rocket test and development center in McGregor, Texas (about 30 miles from TSTC). SpaceX is arguably the leader in commercial space development and having them in our area is quite an honor. As I have mentioned before SpaceX has also hired some of our graduates.

SpaceX chose the McGregor site because it has 14,000 acres that was once a Naval Ordinance site, then a private/military missile test and development site. The acreage and the infrastructure couldn’t be recreated anywhere else economically. For example, the tripod pictured below was built for rocket engine static testing.


My memory is that we were told it had the capacity for up to six million pounds of thrust. I’m not so sure that I heard right. The first state of the Saturn V had a little over seven and a half million pounds of thrust. Since the SpaceX Merlin engine makes around 100,000 pounds of thrust, and their biggest rocket has nine Merlins in the first stage, they should have plenty of room for error!

This tripod was used to test the Merlin 9 last November. It caused quite a stir in the area because it happened after dark and could be heard and felt for many miles. The tripod and tower on top can clearly be seen in the YouTube video of that test:

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Other useful ‘leftovers’ at the site include this bunker, now filled with computers (running Windows and National Instruments Labview) to monitor testing.


We also got to look at this airframe stress tester.


I wasn’t sure about snapping the picture. We had been told not to take pictures of things “that looked like they might fly” (especially the engines). Our guide pointed out, though, that this test stand was right next to the road! The rocket is filled with inert liquid nitrogen to test the strength of the whole system. It seems like a good idea not to use the actual liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene for this test.

Speaking of liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen, it should come as no surprise that SpaceX has a lot of cryo tanks around the property:


All SpaceX engines are built in California and shipped by truck to Texas. They are tested and assembled into vehicles at the McGregor site. They are sent out from there to the launch sites (like Omelek Island in the Pacific or Cape Canaveral).

Conclusions about technicians from our visit:

  • SpaceX has a great need for technicians electrical, mechanical, and aircraft technicians with good computer skills.
  • We currently teach almost everything needed for a well-rounded aerospace technician, but we need to rearrange and combine some curriculum.
  • These folks work hard long hours. If a test takes 16 hours, they work through it. Dedication and work ethic are very important.

Having been privileged to visit NASA in Houston a couple of times with higher-level status (we got to sit in the REAL shuttle simulator and meet astronauts), I was struck by the difference at SpaceX. Their “Vehicle Assembly Building” is a steel building that looks like any commercial building or barn. They are doing on a shoestring what NASA did with billions. (The picture below came from the Wikipedia article on SpaceX):


Despite the relative lack of resources, we were told that Mars was their ultimate goal. Satellite launches and International Space Station resupply missions are just steps toward that goal. I hope I live to see them make it!


More Photos of TSTC Campus Life

June 23rd, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

Instructor Bryan Necessary helps a student in an Electrical Power & Control lab class. (6/2)

Student on his way to class through the TSTC mall. (This scene has changed - now it is torn up to install new chilled water pipes).

Instructor of the Year Deann Graham celebrates with her students in the Web Club. (I should point out that Deann was voted instructor of the year by the Student Government Association - a REAL honor!)

Walking on water? A student takes a leap off the diving board at the SRC pool. Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI student (The SRC is the Murray Watson Student Recreation Center)

Student Chad Pate plays golf with his son on the Golf Course & Landscape Management four-hole practice course. Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI student (This course is in addition to our on-campus 18-hole golf course - really. The small course is intended to be a student lab, so playing it is FREE.)

Aviation Maintenance student, Christopher Mitchell enjoys the warm weather during a class break. (I’m glad that Christopher is enjoying the ‘warm’ weather, I’m burning up!)

A student works out in the Student Recreation Center. Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI student (I’m thinking that we should try to keep this guy happy.)

Automotive students Kayla Roberson, Esteban Trevino and Tom McKinley watch as their lab partner Lonnie Robinson works with a drill press in AUMT 1305. Photo by M. Jordon Pollock, MCI student

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Photo a Day in June

June 23rd, 2009 | Category: Technical Education Awareness

After I announced that I was going to show more photos of life around our technical college, the TSTC Waco flickr page beat me to the punch by deciding to add a photo per day of campus life during June. Here is the first one (6/1/09):

Good morning June! The sun rises over the TSTC airport.

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Digital Electronics Students Build a City

May 24th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness

I have been trying to get pictures of TSTC campus scenes. A lot of people don’t know what kinds of things go on at a technical college. It is different from a community college, but there are a lot of parallels. Here are some electronics students that I ran across in the Spring.


Why are these students playing with electric racing cars and lighted replicas of famous buildings?


What is underneath that has them working so hard?


Not much down there, really - just hours and hours of work programming microproccessors to control all of the systems in the “city.” Digital students know these processors inside out when they leave this course!

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Catching Up - iPhone App in the Store

May 23rd, 2009 | Category: Geek Stuff, Technical Education Awareness

I previously covered the TSTC student who was trying to get his iPhone application approved. It is now done. Read all about it here.

A TSTC Marshall student also had an application approved by Apple. Read about that here.

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Waco Tribune-Herald Love for TSTC

The local paper has noticed the college a lot lately.  Here is an roundup:

Waco TSTC student would like to cash in on iPhone application ‘goldmine’

Dolan is awaiting approval from Apple for an application he developed called “Pocket Puppy Raiser,” which he designed to raise money for Guide Dogs of Texas Inc., an organization devoted to training guide dogs for visually impaired Texans.

Elton Stuckly, guest column: Jobs are there, and here (a column from the Boss!)

While the U.S. economy may seem soft right now, don’t let it fool you, and most of all, don’t panic. There are still jobs available – especially for technically skilled workers. Other fields may be adapting, changing or rearranging, but Texas has always emerged on top as a strong economic force, and one of the leaders in innovation and job creation.

High-skill jobs drive Waco pay gains

Company president Mike Sullivan said the factory jobs typically require at least a technical degree from a place like Texas State Technical College, followed by an apprenticeship training program at the factory.

And saving the best for last -

3 TSTC grads planned additions for Cameron Park Zoo as class assignment

Velia Garcia-Reyes, and plans she made for Cameron Park Zoo.

Velia Garcia-Reyes, and plans she made for Cameron Park Zoo.

“What I have been impressed by with these young women is their professionalism,” Cox said. “They listened to what we said we needed, but they had their own ideas as well. The result is more original and more functional than we anticipated.”

Thanks Waco Trib, for covering these stories that are important to TSTC, Waco, and Texas.

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Robot Champions

I had the opportunity to visit the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas on Saturday.  It was a great day with hundreds of teams of intelligent and motivated kids.  I saw teams from Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, and all across the USA.  I snapped some pictures with my iPhone.

The results of the competition can be found HERE.  Congratulations to the team from Greenville, TX listed at the top.  (Innovation First/VEX is also headquartered in Greenville).

Banner at the door of the Dallas Convention Center

Banner at the door of the Dallas Convention Center

Note that the competition got support from names like Autodesk, EMC, and NASA.

The main competition floor for middle and high school students

The main competition floor for middle and high school students

The main competition that I watched involved both autonomous and controlled operation to stack blue or red cubes in designated areas, scoring for the respective team.  Defense was also practiced and a solid “blue” goal didn’t always stay that way for long.

One of the many Chinese teams attending the competition

One of the many Chinese teams attending the competition

A Colombian post-secondary team

A Colombian post-secondary team

The competition is piloting post-secondary competition to give engineering students some hands-on experience.  There were far fewer teams than on the secondary side, but they were from all over (including Rice University here in Texas).

The Syntax Error "mascot" costume

The Syntax Error team "mascot" costume

Zany hats, t-shirts, and costumes helped to show team spirit.

Repair work with Dremel in the pits

Repair work with Dremel in the pits

A lot of schools use these robots and the curriculum built around them to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.  Check out the link above for more information.  I really wish that I had taken my Flip video camera to this one!

UPDATE: I note that the Mythbusters tested the VEX system and came away favorably impressed.  Go HERE to read the story. (NOTE: The VEX system is no longer sold at Radio Shack).

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The Joy of Technical Education (9)

April 28th, 2009 | Category: Joy, Skills in Demand, Technical Education Awareness

A member of our faculty sent me this newsletter from Design Data that contained a story about one of our Drafting and Design Technology graduates:

Tiffani Cortez started working with SDS/2 while studying at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) in Waco, Texas. The SDS/2 class within the drafting and design curriculum — which includes 32 hours of lecture and 64 hours of lab time — provides students with hands-on SDS/2 experience, which in turn produces students who hit the marketplace ready to go to work.
After Cortez graduated with an associate of applied science degree in drafting and design technology in August 2007, she was, “ready to put use something I learned in school…SDS/2.” For Cortez, that was a drafting and design detailer position at Central Texas Iron Works (CTIW), one of the leading structural steel fabricators in the industry.
“I know one of the main reasons I got this job is because I took this class,” Cortez said of her SDS/2 coursework at TSTC. In fact, as part of the class, the students toured CTIW’s 240,000-square-foot facility, and Cortez picked up a job application and applied. She was hired at CTIW six months prior to graduation.
The native Texan is happy to have landed a job in Waco, close to friends and family, and at a company that allows her to work on projects from all over the world. “CTIW is an awesome company to work for. They do a lot for the community and for their employees… CTIW is like a big family,” Cortez said.

- I love what we do!  (For the rest of the “Joy” series, click here)


Girlstart - Empowering Girls

April 20th, 2009 | Category: Non-Traditional, Technical Education Awareness

… to excel in math, science, and technology!  See their website here.

Read a little about their visit to TSTC Waco here.

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Chinese Technical Educators Come to Texas

April 17th, 2009 | Category: General, Higher Education, Technical Education Awareness


We had a delightful visit this week from a group of vice presidents from Chinese technical colleges. In the picture above (from left to right): our translator from George Mason University, Hua Jian of Wuxi Institute of Technology, Elton Stuckly - President of TSTC Waco, Dr. Zhang Huibo of Ningbo Polytechnic, and Tian Nai Lin of Chengde Petroleum College.

Our guests were brought to us by Dr. Al Pollard of McClennan Community College. They were keenly interested in all things technical and asked excellent and insightful questions. They also took a lot of pictures and video.


Our tour included an engines class in our Toyota lab. TSTC Waco was recently given an award by Toyota as one of the top programs in the country.


Jerry Davis of Instrumentation, Computerized Controls, and Robotics explains how the Delta V HMI (Human Machine Interface) controls the actions of TSTC’s state of the art digital process control trainer. The trainer was built by TSTC instructors with generous donations from our industry partners.


Case Jones and his students demonstrate the importance of motion capture to gaming and simulation design to our vistors.


Our guests enjoyed using the games written by our Game Programming students. We are proud of the fact that our students wrote the gaming engine.


As you can see, the game is a lot of fun!


Student projects in the High Performance Computing lab. After learning the principles on these, they move up to the real thing.

We visited a lot of other areas of campus, including Industrial Systems, Welding, Laser/Electro-optics, and Mechanical Engineering. Our visitors also had the opportunity to eat the meal prepared by our Culinary Arts students.

It was a great day and it is always fascinating to meet people from a different part of the world - especially if they are in the same business.

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Practical Art

April 13th, 2009 | Category: Technical Education Awareness

The Waco Trib has a story on TSTC Advertising Design and Print student Jose Sandoval.  Read it HERE or click on the image below.

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Singapore Really Gets Technical Education


Are students who don’t thrive in a traditional education track academic failures or valuable experiential learners?  That is the question answered by this video about the Institute of Technical Education in Singapore.  (For some reason, the introduction plays twice, but the video is still excellent).

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Please note the following:

  • Importance of technical education to maintain infrastructure
  • Reducing technical education stigma
  • Providing university-class facilities for technical education students
  • Making certain that no skill is wasted

The introduction says that ITE is an innovation, but they are doing what we do in U.S. technical education - links to industry, focus on faculty industry experience, hands-on learning, etc.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that they came here to study technical education.  What they have done differently is to  invest the money to make technical education a priorty.  First-class facilities and student services make the students feel more valued and valuable.

Our focus on 4-year degrees is hurting our competitiveness, not helping.

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