Refineries, petrochemical and manufacturing plants are part of the economic engine that fuels the Houston economy. Highly trained technicians working in the industry help keep the economic engine going.
Houston Community College (HCC) process technology students poised to enter the industry learned firsthand from experts about job opportunities and what it takes to work in the field. The HCC Global Energy Center of Excellence (COE) welcomed two guest speakers to the classroom who discussed industry operations, hiring standards and the importance of making safety a priority.
Tony Wood, operations manager for the Lyondell Basell Bayport Complex, spoke to the students about what his company looks for in potential candidates and the rigorous hiring process. For Lyondell Basell, future technicians are expected to meet entry-level training standards and new operators must also get certified on the units they are assigned as a part of post-hiring. Wood emphasized the critical component of safety compliance and the knowledge of its impact on the company and adjacent communities.
With massive plants located across the Gulf Coast region and often in close proximity to residential communities, workplace safety is imperative to those communities. HCC students also heard from Richard Nickerson, an official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency that enforces workplace safety. Nickerson elaborated on OSHA’s responsibility to ensure that employers provide a hazard-free and safe work environment for employees. He also stressed the importance of the technician’s role in following safety practices and reporting unsafe situations when they occur.
HCC students and faculty gained invaluable information from the two speakers.
Wood and Nickerson also shared their personal career journeys and answered questions about their roles in the industry, providing realistic insights on what is expected when joining the workforce.
“It is very important that our students interact with and hear directly from the industry leaders to set their career goals and job search strategies according to the industry standards,” explained Dr. Ammar Alkhawaldeh, a member of the process technology faculty. .
Dr. Alkhawaldeh, who coordinated the two visits to HCC, also believes that direct meetings between students and industry leaders give them networking connections for potential hiring opportunities. “It is a win-win strategy for our students, the program and the hiring companies alike.”
The Global Energy COE offers associate degrees and certificates in multiple engineering technology career fields that can lead to work in energy, petrochemical and related industries. Registration is now open for the spring 2018 semester. For more information on the Global Energy COE, visit hccs.edu/centers/global-energy.