Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Giving the Gift of Preparedness

If you are still looking for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers, it's especially thoughtful to give the gift of preparedness. The following items are great to have all year round and are especially useful in time of a crisis.

Water purifiers are great for outdoor use but can also be helpful in an emergency. Purifiers come in various sizes from single-serve water bottles to a water pump for larger quantities.

During the winter months, car batteries can lose their charge and leave you stranded. Car jump starters can save you time and the inconvenience of being left alone in a dark parking lot. Some car jump starters can also be used to charge digital devices like your phone or laptop.  

Go boxes are the perfect gift for the prepper in the family. Box options include the number of people, number of days, and choices of food, water, and first aid. 

Power failure lights will never let your loved ones be left in the dark. If the power goes out, these lights will automatically turn on. There are some that can also be used as a flashlight.

An emergency escape tool fits perfectly in the center console of a vehicle. Most of these include a combination of a safety cutter to cut through the seat belts, a hammer to break the door glass, and a flashlight. 


Headlamps are useful for camping as well as for safety when the power goes out. They are virtually drop-proof and leave your hands free to work on other tasks.


Have a safe and happy holiday from all of us at TEEX!



Thursday, December 13, 2018

What you need to know before you buy a drone for Christmas!

Drones are rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S., and we understand why. Who wouldn’t want to operate a machine that gives you the sense of flying without leaving the ground? These gifts are given with the assumption that:





  • No training is needed, and
  • That they are a toy and there are no laws governing their use.

  • Unfortunately, this is not true and can create a problem for the gift recipient. While drones are still relatively new to the consumer market, training requirements and laws affecting their use are already in place. No one wants to give a gift that, if used improperly, could come with a fine of $250,000 and possible imprisonment. So, we’ve asked our resident sUAS expert Kyle McNew to give us a list of suggestions for the new drone owner.

    Purchasing a drone:

    Let the new owner and operator know if their drone weighs between .55 < 55 lbs, they must register their drone with the FAA as well as follow all FAA guidelines while flying. Those registering a drone must be at least 13 years old or older. Once they complete registration, the drone will be assigned a registration number. Place this on the drone with tape or permanent marker. Then the operator can fly it outside. Quadcopters are the best pick for first-time owners. 

    Before operating a new drone:

    Take an introductory class for drone operators. This will reduce the likelihood of a crash, injury or damage. It also gives the operator more confidence in handling their new drone. “You wouldn’t attempt to drive a car without some training,” says McNew. It is also important to obtain a license because “it can assist you with operating within the FAA rules and open doors to operate as a commercial sUAS pilot.” TEEX offers several courses for drone operators interested in recreational use as well as for public safety personnel who pilot sUAS in emergency response and disaster reconnaissance and recovery. 

    FAA Guidelines for Recreational Drones:

    ·         Any drone weighing between .55 < 55 lbs must be registered with the FAA as well as follow all FAA guidelines while flying. 
    ·         Label your drone with your assigned registration number.
    ·         Follow community-based safety guidelines and local laws and ordinances.
    o   Operators are liable for damages caused by their drone. Damage or injury can occur from flying into objects and people.
    o   Some insurance companies offer liability insurance and hull insurance
    ·         Fly your drone at or below 400 feet.
    ·         Keep your drone within your line of sight.
    ·         Flight over people, public events, or stadiums full of people is prohibited without authorization from the FAA.
    ·        Respect privacy. Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons where there is an expectation of privacy without the person’s permission.
    ·         Notify the airport and air traffic control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
    ·         Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts.
    ·     National Parks have banned the use of drones within their confines to eliminate technological distractions.

    Drone rules are changing:

    On October 5, 2018, the President signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. This establishes new conditions for recreational use of drones and immediately repeals the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. Until the new ruling is fully implemented, continue to follow all current policies and guidance with respect to the recreational use of drones.

    For the most up-to-date information and safety tips, visit https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/ or http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/for-recreational-users/.

    Kyle McNew, Training Manager with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and Institute for Law Enforcement and Protective Services Excellence. He holds a private pilot’s license and is a sUAS operator and instructor. 

    Friday, November 16, 2018

    TEEX Holiday Phone Safety tips

    With the holidays approaching, everyone is planning to travel and shop--and sometimes the two together. It is convenient for us to shop on our mobile devices when we only have a minute or two of downtime, so let's take a few minutes and learn some tips to keep our identity safe this holiday season.

    Prevent Shoulder Surfing

    Shoulder surfing is when someone looks over your shoulder in order to see your passcode. You can protect yourself by activating the fingerprint scan. This feature prevents shoulder surfers from getting your information. If you do not have this feature activated, keep your phone locked. Create a strong passcode that is unique only to you. Don’t use the normal 4-6 number passcode. Choose a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

    Protect Your Phone from Unsecured Wi-Fi

    Did you know that free Wi-Fi is not always free? Thieves use free public Wi-Fi as a source to hack into your or your family’s phone without you knowing that it is happening. Install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your phone if you have to use free Wi-Fi. This keeps your information protected. It is always best to use secure connections only.

    Phones are small computers. They can be hacked, infected with viruses, and fall victim to phishing schemes. Having Anti-Virus/VPN protection is just as important on your phone and your family’s phones as they are on your home computer. Keep your phone updated.

    Keep your Devices Backed Up

    Don’t lose all your vacation photos and videos. Backup your data. In the event you lose your phone, you are able to update it from your backup files. Look for automatic backup options on your phone. This alleviates the responsibility of you having to remember to run a backup and ensures you have all your files saved in more than one location.

    Activate the Kill Switch on your Phone 

    The kill switch will delete all the data on your phone after a certain numbers of attempts to unlock it. If you have backed it up, you don’t need to worry about losing the information.

    For more tips, visit Ready.gov.


    Thursday, September 20, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering, Texas A&M University

    Why engineering?

    I consider engineers to be problem solvers. These can be major national problems, global challenges, or specific issues with technology. You can start thinking about it at very high levels, or you can focus on the day-to-day level. You choose a problem, and you determine how you are going to solve it. Then, you break it into daily tasks to meet the goal of correcting or addressing the problem.

    For example, in biomedical engineering, you might determine there is a need for a device for people with a specific challenge-- perhaps it is a new orthopedic device. The overall problem or challenge is to make that device efficient and effective in its use. The process to develop or improve the device may take years to complete, so the issue becomes how do you break down the process into manageable tasks?

    First, you will need to investigate components and applications. Then ask yourself questions such as, can I use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help with this problem? How do I put it together? How much is it going to cost? How will it handle weight and stress? You will have to investigate all these things and others --maybe on a daily basis--but at the end of the project, you may have changed the world.

    Do I have to love math and science?

    You do not have to love math or science to be an engineer; you just have to be able to use them. Remember engineers are not theoretical mathematicians or theoretical scientists. We use math and science as tools. As an engineer, you will need to work hard and focus. Don’t be afraid to get tutoring in math and science if you need it.

    Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer?

    I didn’t know that I wanted to be an engineer right away. I was a late bloomer; I had never met an engineer as a child, and I had no idea what engineering actually was. I did know that I enjoyed problem-solving, and I was decent at math and physics. When I arrived at college, I thought I wanted to do something in biology or chemistry. I did not realize that I was interested in engineering until I took an engineering physics class.

    However, that path would be difficult today. You usually have to decide to pursue engineering in your first year of college. What I would recommend is this: if you have an interest in problem-solving during your senior year in high school, apply to the College of Engineering. If you are accepted, join us. You will have an entire year to consider if it is for you; and if not, to move on into something else. 

    What are a woman’s biggest obstacles to succeeding in a male-dominated field?

    My biggest obstacle when I first entered the workforce as an engineer was probably the lack of support from others who were going through the same work/life balance challenges. Women today are more likely to have other women in the workplace to support them. My male colleagues were not sexist or necessarily negative—they just were not going through the same experiences. For example, child rearing. I was the only one who was pregnant; the one who usually had to deal with childcare issues; and as a mother, I was the primary parent in many ways. It was a challenging time, and my home / life balance was my biggest concern. At that time, there was no maternity leave; you took vacation time if you had it.  Men rarely took time off for the birth of a child.

    Now, I have to say times have changed. We don’t have perfect family leave policies but they are much improved.

    The secret to success in engineering?

    You just have to be persistent. Persistence and resilience will make you successful, not sheer talent.

     Again, why engineering?

    Because you want to make the world a better place. The types of problems we solve are global challenges: what if you could help a disabled veteran walk again; what if you could save millions of people with a new drinking water treatment method; or what if you could develop a new pharmaceutical approach that could cure cancer. All are engineering challenges. 

    If you want to save the world, be an engineer.


    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Kristy Braman, Woodworking Artist


    When I was in college, I had an amazing wood shop available to me through the architecture program. I was actually a little intimidated about working there, though, because most of the people who worked there were men who were far more experienced than me and there were so many tools I'd never used before. However, during my senior year, I thought, I have to use this before I leave school so I designed and built my first furniture piece. I instantly fell in love with woodworking and the community in the work shop was so helpful and welcoming. It was difficult to leave school after that and go from having every tool imaginable to having nothing.

    When I had my daughter, my husband and I were talking about what I could do from home, something that would still allow me to be creative and design. We kept coming back to this particular style of woodworking art. It filled my design side, my woodworking-craftsman side; it was everything that fit my aesthetic. We decided to jump right into it. We bought my first few tools, I made one small project, and I was like, “Yeah, I have to do this.” I love it.

    Challenges now are balancing work with family and getting my stuff done in the time that I have. Also, one thing I have noticed in woodworking is if you have a problem, you can't always find easy answers. You do some research but then you have to just push forward knowing that you’re going to make mistakes and prepare for it. You can’t view it as failure—it’s a learning opportunity.

    Whatever it is that you think you want to do, just do it. There will always be reasons not to do it and none of them are good enough. Prepare for the challenges because they will always be there—it doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or a man. It's much better to be in a job that is difficult if it's the job that you love.  

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Courtney Moore, Product Onboarding Manager for Accredo Packaging

    I am the Product Onboarding Manager for Accredo Packaging, where we produce flexible packaging for applications such as shrink bundling film that goes around water bottles and towel and tissue film as well as laminated structures that are converted into pouches for applications like sugar, frozen vegetables, chicken products, etc. 

    In college, I never imagined I would be interested in the technical aspects of manufacturing. Accredo was my first manufacturing job, and I was immediately impressed and excited about working with something tangible. I started out as a production coordinator and then moved into customer service management. I had the privilege of joining the company in the early years, when it was necessary for me to become heavily involved in the specifications of the product. When we had questions and issues from the customers, I would physically go and check it out and work with the managers to solve the issue and/or get the questions answered. It was incredibly interesting to me, so even though it was more comfortable to stay on the familiar business side of things, I pushed out of my comfort zone because I enjoyed it. 

    Now I manage all the specifications, especially for new products, and make sure that we understand the application, what the customer needs, and how to transition the new business to Accredo. What I like the most about my position now is the problem solving. When we get a new product that is not in our current wheelhouse, we work to find something that meets the customers’ needs while remaining efficient for us to produce. 

    One of my challenges is to learn more about the product and machines, since my schooling and background are not technical.  There can be an under-estimation of how well I grasp those concepts, but I continue to ask questions to equip me for developing the new products. I have not worked on the production floor, but in my length of experience at Accredo, I’ve developed a knowledge base to help determine how to produce a new product and the skills to see that new business to fruition. 

    What would I recommend to young women today about traditionally male jobs like manufacturing? I think there is greater satisfaction following something you enjoy doing. Do not worry about it being a traditionally male job. Step out of your comfort zone and find somewhere you can use your talents to add value.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Monica Cortez, Aerospace Engineer

    In my career in aerospace engineering, I worked for Lockheed Martin and then I worked for Exelon, which is the largest nuclear power generator corporation in the United States. After working at those two companies, I went into academia.

    I loved working as an aerospace engineer but it was very challenging. Men weren't ready for women in the workforce in a technical field. Luckily for me, I found advocates within the company that were male, and they really helped to encourage me to go from the bachelor's to the PhD.

    I chose engineering for several reasons. My father was a military-trained engineer. I was very good at math--it just came naturally to me. I loved solving technical problems and I enjoyed being part of a team. When you see that aircraft go up in the air, you know you were part of something big. It's like that old saying, "To those who have much, much is expected." I was blessed with a technical mind. I'm very logical, and I always believed that working hard and playing hard would have really big rewards. And they have.

    What I tell young women is that being an engineer puts you above a lot of other professions because you do stand out. Your perspective is very needed in a technical field because we do not think like our male counterparts. We think differently and we need that in the workforce. It was exciting to bring that different perspective and have it accepted in the team. So it's very rewarding.

    Passion, desire, and creativity are down deep. If you're passionate anything can be made possible. If you focus on the barriers, then that's all you are going to see; if you focus on the horizon, then the barriers are just an obstacle that you need to get through. It's all about perspective, and for me, I knew what my end goal was and no one was going to stop me from getting that. No one. Not educators who didn't believe in me; family members who thought, "Oh my gosh, she's in community college, does she know how long she's going to have to go to school to get her PhD in engineering?" I didn't let that bother me. It was white noise. I allowed myself to say the end goal was me walking across the stage and being called Dr. Monica Cortez. When I achieved it, I bawled. That's what I wanted, that's what I was passionate about. For me, that is what I want every woman to embrace is this goal. Go after it, embrace it, and own it because it is yours and no one can take it from you. You only live once.


    Thursday, July 5, 2018

    Sean Reilly: from Intercounty Baseball League’s Home-Run King to Firefighter

    I wasn’t sure where to begin when I decided to pursue a career in firefighting. I asked around and contacted a few firefighters I knew and asked them where to begin. Most of them had either taken the course at TEEX or recommended it as one of the best places to get your certifications and begin the long road to becoming a firefighter. After a little research and speaking with Chief Jason Loyd, I knew it was the right place for me, and I grew excited the more I found out about the city and the training grounds, Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City.

    Trying to balance the many hours of studying/work involved to become a firefighter with the duties and responsibilities of having a family can be tough, stressful and time-consuming. Obviously, I couldn’t afford to take 3 months away from my family and work, so the layout of the online TEEX program suited me perfectly. I knew the program wasn’t going to be easy, especially the hands-on boot camp portion down in Texas, but I’m motivated by challenges. I wanted to have TEEX on my resume to prove I graduated from the best program out there when it came to preparing you to become a firefighter. 

    What I liked best about the program was the wide range of training I received while at TEEX. Training at Brayton Fire Field and Disaster City exposed me to numerous scenarios one might encounter in the field. The city of College Station was beautiful with lots to do, and I made a point of getting out and really enjoying everything it had to offer. Also, the instructors were second to none. All of them were firefighters in nearby stations and wouldn’t hesitate to stick around or spend that extra time to make sure you were confident and properly trained on whatever task we were assigned that day. The conditions surrounding this profession can be hazardous or dangerous to say the least, and upon graduation, I can honestly say I left TEEX with the confidence and knowledge that I would be a successful
    firefighter one day. 

    I’m working part-time for a station right now, and my goal is to ride the trucks and get as much experience in the field as possible. I love the fact that I have to be at my best when a lot of times I’m dealing with people who are at their absolute worst. The adrenaline rush you experience racing to the scene of an emergency is second to none. I can’t imagine a better career if you like working in a team environment and serving your community.  

    I feel as though firefighting is a job I’ve been training for my whole life. There are obviously a lot of similarities between being a professional baseball player and a professional/volunteer firefighter. As mentioned before, I spent my whole life working as part of a team, so that’s of utmost importance to me. The bond you make with your teammates and fellow firefighters is something you keep with you your whole life. I still attend family functions and BBQs with past/current players, which is something I’ll also be doing with members of my fire hall.

    Physical fitness is imperative if you want to have success in either field. Dedicating yourself to a physical training routine and living a healthy lifestyle is something I learned as a professional athlete, and it is something that I’ve carried with me and applied to my firefighting career. Playing baseball in front of thousands of people, while both succeeding and failing at times, has taught me how to work in and deal with stressful situations. When it’s all said and done, one of the most enjoyable things is going out to unwind with your teammates after a hard fought win or a rough day at the fire hall. These people become your family away from home, and you can really count on them for anything. There aren’t a lot of professions out there that allow you to really look forward to going to work each and every day. 

    Again, I can’t emphasize enough how amazing the instructors and students really are at TEEX. I graduated roughly 2 years ago and still stay in contact with a lot of them. I can still count on them to answer any fire-related questions I may have or even just lend me advice when it comes to the firefighter recruitment process. Without a doubt, they continue to help me pursue my dream of being a full-time firefighter, and without them, I’m positive I wouldn’t be as close as I am now to realizing my dream. 

    I’m honored to say I graduated from such a highly regarded program and never hesitate to recommend TEEX to anyone interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter.  

    Sean Reilly plays First Base for the Guelph Royals in the Intercounty 
    Baseball League in Southern Ontario, where he holds the all-time home 
    run record, and recently set an IBL record with 900 career hits. But when 
    he’s off the field, he is pursuing a career as a firefighter with the Puslinch 
    Fire and Rescue Service. He is a graduate of the Texas A&M Engineering 
    Extension Service’s Firefighter Academy.


    Great article about Sean in the Grand Magazine and his page on the Guelph Royals Canadian Baseball Team website.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Lesa Hill, TEEX Division Director, Knowledge Engineering

    I think challenge is what keeps me coming back to solve problems and figure out a better way to do things. That’s what makes life more interesting. I love that TEEX is a service organization. We help our customers to be better in many different ways. That’s a big motivator and why I do what I do.

    I also care about the people who work for me and I want to see them grow and succeed so that motivates me as well. I don’t mind someone making a mistake; everyone makes mistakes. But I believe you should learn from it and don’t keep making the same mistake.

    If you feel you are not being heard, pick a time to talk to the employee or even superior, when you know they’re receptive and try to present your idea in a way they will understand. Use their language and understand their perspective. Sometimes it helps to find someone else they respect that agrees with you and ask them to pitch your idea as well. There is power in numbers. Sometimes you have to change your own position and look at a problem or idea from a different angle.

    I think frequently we’re our own worst enemy, we can get stuck in our ways of doing things. You have to believe that you can make it and overcome whatever obstacle is in front of you. You have to have that dogged determination, never-give-up attitude and you have to keep learning and working.  We all go through difficult times but being determined, working hard, being creative and praying for the greater good has always helped me get through the hard times and generally end up in a better situation. Change is often good but it can be painful.



    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Gracie Zieman, Quality Manager at Accredo Packaging, Inc

    What does a Quality Manager do? I manage customer complaints and internal non-conformances. I lead internal and external audits, maintain vendor management system, document control, running the QC lab, and other miscellaneous tasks. Plus, I really like my job. I have always been interested in manufacturing. I have an engineering degree. I went to an engineering school that was already 75 percent men, so I already had experience with being the only girl in the classroom or the only girl in the meeting.

    I realized that I really like big picture process; not necessarily inventing electronics or looking under a microscope; something tangible, instead of being focused on one little thing. Manufacturing is a great example of that--there’s a lot of things you can do in manufacturing besides running the machines and developing the product. You can help develop the process, the procedures, and the policies, that kind of thing. I’m much more interested in the whole process.

    Many people take quality for granted--they just don’t realize how important it is. Realistically, footage per minute is what’s really important, but Quality Control is important In a different way. It’s what keeps the doors open. We have audits that we have to pass. If we fail just one audit, we could lose half our customers. People say, “Audits, that’s Gracie,” or “Procedures, that’s Gracie, she’ll handle it.” Quality Control is usually a very small department, but it’s integral to the customer experience.

    As the Quality Manager, I have to investigate customer complaints, which can come from any process. You have to understand the processes well enough to know what went wrong and how we can fix it. Actually, I don't know how to run the machines, I don't know all the technical, mechanical aspects of it, but I do know enough about it after 4½ years of working at Accredo to figure out what happened.

    My biggest daily challenge is that while I like Quality Control because it's big picture, it's also inherently negative. So, if I don't have anything negative to say I don’t show up to the meeting. They know If I do show up, something is going on. It's really hard to convey negative information, to tell somebody that they did something wrong, and that I have to investigate. I try to be positive and try to encourage them and find something good to say.

    I take a lot of pride being the Quality Manager for Accredo because I help the company have a good relationship with the customers. Customer complaints are such a big part of my job, and if I can react quickly to the customer, if I can be helpful, if I word things well, using please and thank you, it really changes the dynamic of the conversation.. We also get a lot of positive feedback as well. It's gratifying when I hear from customers complimenting me or telling me that our responsiveness is better than their other vendors. Customers appreciate that they can get a quick response from Accredo, and I work really hard to accomplish that.


    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Jennifer Linnell, Veterans Program Coordinator

    Jennifer Linnell at Texas
     State Capitol for
    Women Veterans Day
    I have always been a very motivated and persistent person. When I joined the Navy, my recruiter really pushed me to excel. She was a builder in the Navy and had overcome a lot to reach her goals. She told me that the rate I had chosen was mostly male-dominated, but not to let that get me down—to use it as fuel to light my fire and to keep pushing. She wrote to me every week while I was at boot camp. I would like to have the same effect on the women that I work with at TEEX. My goal is to always serve those who serve.

    When I came out of the Navy, I felt like I could do anything. I would like to help all the female veterans who pass through my doors to also feel empowered by their training and believe in themselves. I can use all the resources that TEEX and the Veterans programs have to help these veterans to find new careers in whatever they choose--male-dominated or not.

    Today I was able to attend the first ever #WomenVeteransDay on the front steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin. While I watched the crowd and listened to the speakers, I received even more motivation.

    When women help each other, we all rise.


    Tuesday, June 5, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Ashley Ordener, Project Manager II, Facilities Planning & Construction, Texas A&M University System

    I originally wanted to go into Architecture. As a part of that degree, I took a Construction Methods and Materials course and I really liked that. I liked being in the middle of construction and fitting the pieces together. I really liked to see something being built out of nothing. You start with a blank piece of land and then build something that will last generations and will help people grow and develop.

    The biggest challenge that I’ve faced in this profession is getting respect because I also look very young. I overcome that challenge by knowing my field, doing research and I don’t back down when I know something is right. As long as you know what you’re talking about, then others in the profession will respect you. With that knowledge and a passion for what you want to do, confidence grows. I have pride in what I do, so if I do face a challenge, I can step up and stand my ground. If I’m not completely sure of the what I’m talking about, I’ll back off, do research and then come back even stronger.

    If there is a career that you want in a traditionally male occupation, don’t be discouraged. Do your homework, study, meditate, grow, and then put your mind to it. You can do it and you’re actually stronger than what you think.


    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: TEEX Forensic Science Academy Training Manager Christine Ramirez Steps Up

    Christine Ramirez worked as a Crime Scene Investigator for 9 years. Now she is the Training Manager for the Texas Forensic Science Academy so she can help others pursue this career. Here’s what she said about Stepping Up in this field:

    “Working as a CSI meant long hours. You may work from 8:00-5:00, then be on-call and come back at 9:00 pm; work a crime scene until 3:00am and return to your regular shift again at 8:00. But, you know, all that hard work is worth it, because we are working for the common goal of investigating and solving crime. Your work may stop a criminal from committing another crime or give a family some sense of closure. I had the opportunity to be an intern at a police department before starting my career, and even then I felt I was part of a team working for justice. All through my career, I felt my work had an impact and made a difference.

    So today, when I’m in a classroom teaching Crime Scene Investigation, I tell my students that I know you’re tired but know that every scene you work you literally affect people and their lives. And you literally change the world every single case you work. I don’t know many other professions that can have a profound effect like that on people.


    My hope is that you will find something you have a passion for so that when you open your eyes in the morning it’s not like, “ugh, I have to go in again” but it’s like “I get to do this and this and this”. You spring out of bed because it’s something you look forward to. Ask yourself this, “At the end of the day how did it make you feel?”

    Thanks for the support you’ve provided for TEEX’s #WomenStepUp movement. To increase our visibility in social media, we are setting up a Facebook group. This will allow us to communicate directly with those interested. You can sign up for the group at this link. 
    TEEX #WomenStepUp
    Facebook Group · 4 members
    Join Group

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Brandy Norris, Assistant Chief, College Station Police Department

    Early on, I think I was probably motivated by the excitement of the job. Now I think I’m motivated by looking back and realizing that I truly made a difference in lives; knowing that I’ve stopped someone bad from continuing to hurt others. Even now, sometimes I’ll get a thank you card in the mail from someone I’ve helped. It may takes years to realize that impact.

    In a job like this, you must not be afraid to address your emotions. You must hold it together in the heat of the moment but afterwards, do what you need to do to confront your emotions instead of burying them. 

    There are so many different aspects of Law Enforcement and sometimes a woman’s approach or presence can get the outcome we want. Not to say that a male police officer or female police officer is better, sometimes we just approach situations in a different way. And I think those differences make all of us stronger.





    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Erica Wozniak, Construction Project Manager, City of College Station, TX


    There are a lot of opportunities for women in the construction industry. A construction project has many aspects and offers a number of roles for women to fill, including engineering, estimating, project management and project inspection just to name a few. The stereotype that construction is for men only has changed and if you ask many men, who have a great deal of experience in this industry, they will tell you that women are needed in this field. Women often have a great attention to detail and that keen eye for picking up deficiencies in the field and doing punch lists or inspections is a desired skill set.

    One of the greatest challenges as a women, in learning to navigate a male-dominated industry, is that often men will assume you function and work just like them. I had to learn how to gain the same respect and accomplish the same tasks, but in my own way. When I tried to be like “the guys” it didn’t work. I had to find my own way. Everyone on a construction project has to come to the realization that it’s not women vs men or the field vs the office. It’s about forming a project team. A team that pulls everything together by supporting one another and using each person’s talents and strengths to accomplish a common goal. My advice for women in the construction industry is to remember that you are an individual with great abilities, but you have to combine your talents, points of view and strengths with those around you to become a successful project team.

    I love helping and serving people and even though construction is not a direct service industry, I get great satisfaction from helping to provide someone a safe, well-built place to live, work, learn, play or receive healthcare. When you have these facilities and they are functioning well and creating a quality environment, everyone’s life is just that much better.  I have the opportunity to manage the design and construction of the new College Station Police Department Headquarters. All of the police officers are protecting and serving our community and by helping to provide them with the space they need to work and train, I feel like in some small way, I have contributed to making our town safer and a better place to live.

    I highly recommend a career in the construction industry. You will never have the same day twice. It’s never boring. You will spend your time solving problems, coming up with creative solutions, meeting new people, finding more efficient ways to do things, and learning about other industries and other professions. When you help to build or design a facility, you have the opportunity to learn about careers and professions you would otherwise likely never encounter. Construction is a very interesting career and I’m thankful to be a part of a wonderful, challenging and rewarding industry.

    TEEX #WomenStepUp: Erica Wozniak, Construction Project Manager, City of College Station, TX

    There are a lot of opportunities for women in the construction industry. A construction project has many aspects and offers a number of roles for women to fill, including engineering, estimating, project management and project inspection just to name a few. The stereotype that construction is for men only has changed and if you ask many men, who have a great deal of experience in this industry, they will tell you that women are needed in this field. Women often have a great attention to detail and that keen eye for picking up deficiencies in the field and doing punch lists or inspections is a desired skill set.

    One of the greatest challenges as a women, in learning to navigate a male-dominated industry, is that often men will assume you function and work just like them. I had to learn how to gain the same respect and accomplish the same tasks, but in my own way. When I tried to be like “the guys” it didn’t work. I had to find my own way. Everyone on a construction project has to come to the realization that it’s not women vs men or the field vs the office. It’s about forming a project team. A team that pulls everything together by supporting one another and using each person’s talents and strengths to accomplish a common goal. My advice for women in the construction industry is to remember that you are an individual with great abilities, but you have to combine your talents, points of view and strengths with those around you to become a successful project team.

    I love helping and serving people and even though construction is not a direct service industry, I get great satisfaction from helping to provide someone a safe, well-built place to live, work, learn, play or receive healthcare. When you have these facilities and they are functioning well and creating a quality environment, everyone’s life is just that much better.  I have the opportunity to manage the design and construction of the new College Station Police Department Headquarters. All of the police officers are protecting and serving our community and by helping to provide them with the space they need to work and train, I feel like in some small way, I have contributed to making our town safer and a better place to live.


    I highly recommend a career in the construction industry. You will never have the same day twice. It’s never boring. You will spend your time solving problems, coming up with creative solutions, meeting new people, finding more efficient ways to do things, and learning about other industries and other professions. When you help to build or design a facility, you have the opportunity to learn about careers and professions you would otherwise likely never encounter. Construction is a very interesting career and I’m thankful to be a part of a wonderful, challenging and rewarding industry.

    Monday, May 7, 2018

    TEEX #WomenStepUp #1: Bobbi Jo Evanicky, TEEX Industrial Fire Program Instructor

    Bobbi Jo Evanicky has been in the fire service for 16 years. She is currently a fire instructor at TEEX's Brayton Fire Training Field. This is how Bobbi steps up…

    Before coming to work at TEEX, I worked as an operator at Chevron-Phillips Chemical, in a plant, working 12-hour shifts, and I was on the “initial response team.” One night I got a page to respond to help set up a landing zone for a LifeFlight. After the ambulance arrived and while we were waiting for the LifeFlight crew, it was obvious that the injured person was in a LOT of pain. And in my job at that time, I couldn’t get close enough to get hands on, I couldn’t do anything to help him. I couldn’t even help the people who were trying to take care of him. That’s what I didn’t like and that’s what got me into the Fire Service. I did not like being in that passive position while someone was suffering. That’s how I became involved in Industrial Emergency Response.  I also wanted to help in my community and not just at the plant, so I put in an application at my local volunteer fire department.  That was the beginning of my career in the fire service and what has led me to where I am today.

    There are definitely physical challenges in being a Firefighter. But being a woman, I also had the advantage of being smaller than most of my fellow responders which meant that on rescues I could get into places that the guys couldn’t fit. I could move around better in small places.

    Most men are very accepting of a woman in the fire service. Of course, there are a handful of people who don’t think you’re up to the job so there’s always the challenge that you’ll have to prove yourself to someone. Remember, you don’t prove yourself in words; you prove yourself in action. It’s not by arguing with someone that you’ll get ahead. It’s by making up your mind that you can do something and then you go out and do it. 



    Probably the greatest lesson I’ve learned in 16 years of service is that you can’t fix everybody or everything. That’s not only in fire response but also when training firefighters. If you can’t fix a problem then you’re disappointed but can hopefully handle the disappointment by talking about it. That may not fix the problem, but at least it helps you handle it better or gives you a better perspective.

    If you think that you’d like to be a firefighter but have no idea where to start, visit your local fire station. Ask them for a tour. Ask them to sit on a truck. Ask them to ride out on a truck if your station has that program. The only thing that is stopping you from reaching your dream is not stepping up and asking. 

    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    Training in forensics, cybersecurity supplement high school curriculum

    HOUSTON - Students enrolled in the High School for Law and Justice, a magnet school in the Houston Independent School District, are now taking online courses offered by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) as part of their curriculum.
    Twenty-two juniors and seniors studying criminal justice, and their teacher, are taking Basic Criminal Investigation and Foundations of Courtroom Testimony. “This gives the students the opportunity to take the same training that law enforcement practitioners take,” said Christine Ramirez, Training Manager of TEEX's Texas Forensic Science Academy.
    An additional 145 students recently registered for three TEEX online cybersecurity courses, which are eligible for college credit through the American Council on Education (ACE), said Tony Tasillo, Manager of Educational Initiatives. The students are enrolled in criminal justice or computer programming classes, he added. The online cybersecurity courses are DHS/FEMA-funded and offered at no charge.
    “The students can also earn college credit through ACE and a variety of articulation agreements with universities," Tasillo said.
    "It’s the first time a high school has supplemented its curriculum with Texas Forensic Science Academy courses,” Ramirez said. “We have a contract with Houston ISD for four years, and the program could expand to other campuses.” The students’ fees for the online forensics courses are paid by the school district’s Career and Technology Education program. 
    This training will be a benefit for students seeking additional training or careers in law enforcement after high school, Ramirez said. “It will enhance their resume and show they have taken the initiative to get this type of training.”
    Originally published on teex.org.