In an effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the classroom, the CITGO Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery partnered with the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) to host an all-day hands-on learning workshop for 27 STEM teachers from 10 local middle and high schools. As part of the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline initiative, the CITGO Energy Workshop used interactive learning games to encourage educators to bring their passion for STEM into their classrooms and inspire their students to consider STEM careers.
The CITGO Energy Workshop took place at Foy H. Moody High School, a longtime CITGO partner committed to providing students with a strong foundation for the pursuit of STEM careers. Teachers who attended the workshop received lessons to enhance their students’ understanding of the oil and gas refining process. In addition to the workshop that took place in mid-December, the CITGO Corpus Christi refinery hosted a two-hour internal NEED Outreach Training the following day for a group of CITGO engineers, equipping them with the tools needed to pass along their industry knowledge and promote STEM education in local school workshops.
“The NEED workshops offer students insight into viable STEM career paths,” noted CITGO Corpus Christi refinery Vice President and General Manager Art Klein. “STEM education prepares students for bright futures as engineers and innovative thinkers. In supporting the NEED Project, the CITGO Corpus Christi refinery hopes to aid our area teachers in their efforts to train these students as the incoming workforce.”
NEED Executive Director Mary Spruill said expanding the skill sets of area teachers to include skills relevant to current career paths is the motivating force behind the NEED Project. “We are partnering with CITGO to enhance curriculum at surrounding schools in order to prepare students for available STEM opportunities,” she said.
Through their partnership, CITGO and NEED strive to bring energy curriculum into the classroom in hopes of expanding students’ knowledge of and interest in energy, while also encouraging them to explore careers in the oil, gas and transportation sectors. The NEED workshops have also been held near CITGO refineries in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Lemont, Illinois.
For many years, CITGO has worked to boost STEM educational and career prospects for Corpus Christi students. The CITGO Innovation Academy for Engineering, Environmental & Marine Science at Moody High School, one of the country’s highest-ranked schools for STEM courses, prepares Corpus Christi students to be the next generation of STEM leaders through exposure to real-world educational experiences like field trips and academic competitions.
In addition to NEED, the CITGO Lemont refinery and Joliet Junior College (JJC) recently announced a new scholarship for STEM students through the establishment of a $250,000 endowment with the JJC Foundation.
“During 2016, we began discussions with Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Sr. on how CITGO could make a positive impact in Will County by investing in the next generation of leaders in the STEM areas. We concluded that a scholarship endowment would serve as the best conduit for workforce development and job opportunities for the residents of Will County,” said Jim Cristman, Vice President and General Manager of the CITGO Lemont refinery.
The CITGO Scholarship will be awarded annually to a JJC student(s) in one of the following majors: Process Control Instrumentation, Operations Engineering Technology, Industrial Maintenance Technology, Electrical/Electronic Automated Systems, Process Operations Technology or the dual credit high school program—Advanced Integrated Manufacturing. Applicants can be either part- or full-time students, but must demonstrate a financial need and exhibit community involvement through volunteer activities. The scholarship is non-renewable, and the number awarded per academic year will be determined by the JJC Foundation based on accrued interest from the endowment.
The 2017 recipients of CITGO Scholarship are Matthew Lane and Kayla Storme. Lane is currently pursuing two associates degrees—one in Industrial Maintenance Technology and the other in Electrical/Electronics Automated Systems. Storme is majoring in Operations Engineering with the end goal of a career in chemical engineering. The students will receive their $5,000 scholarship and will be recognized by CITGO, the JJC Foundation and Executive Walsh during a presentation at the college on Wednesday, February 15 at 4:30 pm.
According to Walsh, JJC, the nation’s first public community college, offers a wide variety of opportunities with regard to STEM education because employment forecasts predict significant growth in technology occupations. “CITGO has been an excellent community partner for many years. Through this generous scholarship, students will be able to further their education in various areas of technology. I congratulate Kayla and Matthew as the first recipients, and wish them much luck in their future studies and careers,” said Walsh.
This endowment is part of the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline program, which partners with educational organizations near the company’s operational areas to increase access to educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. The program promotes the importance of STEM education in the socioeconomic development of our communities and highlights the numerous pathways to rewarding careers, including those in the energy industry. It provides grants to schools and educational organizations to support programs that increase student interest, retention and graduation rates—particularly at the high school and post-secondary levels—and those that prepare students for STEM technical and university level curriculum. The program also provides scholarships for students pursuing higher degrees in STEM fields. In 2016, the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline benefited 3,000 students and 300 educators across the CITGO operational footprint, strengthening the communities where the company has a presence.