CPET offers unique connections for students and industry

Jul 25, 2022Melissa Trevizo


San Jacinto College Students

The LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology offers San Jacinto College students innovative ways to connect with industry partners. This industry access gives CPET graduates a leg up when it comes to job placement.

Thanks to his athletics background, Jeff Pearce, coordinator for education and workforce at CPET, has developed some of these unique events, including Scout Week.

"As a volleyball coach, I would make sure our entire team was prepped when we knew a scout was coming to a practice," Pearce said. "It gave everyone a chance to show their skill, and it is no different for CPET. Inviting industry into our labs and showcasing our students' knowledge base and engagement opens up an avenue for conversation."

Scout Week took place April 4-7 at the 151,000-square-foot complex with a separate 8,000-square-foot, two-story process training unit. Representatives from ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Chevron Phillips Chemical, and more observed students in the classroom or joined hands-on activities in labs.

"We leave it up to interpretation, but the goal is to get representatives in the classrooms and have them associate students' names to faces," Pearce said.

CPET and San Jac's career services also team to present Industrial Virtual Interview Training Experience sessions. InVITE sessions take place like typical interviews, with students answering general and scenario-based questions, then getting feedback from a panel of CPET, industry, and career services representatives.

"We started with doing interviews three days a week, and slots started to fill up quickly," Pearce said. "Career coordinators from our campuses help facilitate each interview and offer real-time feedback to students."

Turner Industries, LyondellBasell, Arkema, Noltex LLC, Kaneka, W.R. Grace, INEOS, Performance Contractors, Olympus, and Chevron Phillips Chemical-Cedar Bayou representatives have volunteered their time to help students hone their skills.

"I'm proud of San Jacinto College for starting this initiative," said Carla Thompson, workforce development manager for Turner Industries. "We are building our future and the competencies and expectations that are set out for the industry."

David Gosnay, LyondellBasell operations manager for training and logistics, spends 60% of his workweek at the facility as a liaison between industry and education.

"LyondellBasell sees the value in workforce development," Gosnay said. "Partnering with San Jac gets us in on a ground level to train students to a high industry standard. Students come to me for career advice, and I also observe course content and curriculum to make sure what's being taught aligns with industry practices. We want that personal connection, and presence is important."

These unique connections are paying off for CPET graduates like Summer Barnhill, who credits Gosnay among those who motivated her to make deeper connections at CPET.

"I started my new job as an operator at LyondellBasell in May," Barnhill said. "I put all of my eggs in one basket with that one, and it paid off. I knew I wanted to work there after meeting David Gosnay at a job fair last year. Hearing him speak about the industry was inspiring."

Planning events never stops for Pearce, who keeps an ever-expanding list of ideas on a whiteboard in his office.

"My goal is to get students in front of industry as much as possible," he said. "If we can get them to network and make connections, we are setting them up for success."

To learn more about the CPET, visit sanjac.edu/cpet.

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