Archive for April, 2009

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)


A Problem for Wind Power?

April 28th, 2009 | Category: Environmental Tech

There is an interesting post at The Infrastructurist called Wind Power’s Dirty Little Secret.  There is also quite a debate raging in the comments.

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Green Jobs the New Sub-Prime?

April 20th, 2009 | Category: Environmental Tech, Skills in Demand

It is a question worth asking!  Government money can train, but the private sector must sustain.

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Another Warning About Student Loans

April 20th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Skills in Demand

The New York Times notes again that sloppy thinking about degrees and marketable skills can hurt, especially in this economy.

They bought into the notion that if they went to college — never mind the debt — their degree would lead to a lucrative job. And repaying their student loans would never be a problem.

But the economic crisis has turned those assumptions on their ear as thousands of recent graduates have been unable to find jobs or are earning too little to cover the payments for loans that are sometimes as high as $50,000.

Actually, this was always a risky assumption.

Read the whole thing.

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2009 First Robotics Competetion

April 20th, 2009 | Category: Geek Stuff, High School CTE

There is good coverage at Popular Science -

(and a photo slideshow).

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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).

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

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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College at 3:00 A.M.

April 08th, 2009 | Category: Higher Education, Skills in Demand

This is how to respond to the need for welders.

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