With the Gulf Coast area petrochemical industry needing more than 50,000 new workers within the decade, nine community colleges have set out to find and train this next generation of skilled workers, enabled by a grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation.

Now in its third year, the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, of which College of the Mainland is an active participant, has spread the word across the region that salaries in this expanding industry average $99,700.  It’s not surprising that enrollments in training programs, such as COM’s welding, process technology, machinist and mechanical maintenance technician programs, are growing significantly, and the COM Process Technology Program celebrated its highest enrollment ever in 2014-15. 

On Aug. 13 representatives from all nine partnering colleges and ExxonMobil met in the Nolan Ryan Center on the Alvin Community College campus to present more than $60,000 in scholarships to 43 selected students.

Students heard a rousing message from the manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant, Woody Paul, who reminded students that, while their backgrounds and stories may differ, each one is seeking to improve their lives through careers in the petrochemical industry. He applauded their discipline, tenacity and determination as they juggled career training with family and current jobs.

In all, ExxonMobil has contributed more than $1.5 million towards training skilled new workers. This is the second consecutive year that CCPI and ExxonMobil have brought together new recipients to present scholarships and encourage them in their educational pursuits.

2015 scholarship recipients include:

From College of the Mainland: Cristine Guevara, Process Technology, Byron Howard, Process Technology, Danny Magee, Jr., Process Technology, and Robert Ware, Mechanical Maintenance Technology.

From Alvin Community College, Joshua Huerta, Process Technology, Matthew Mitchell, Process Technology, Shemilore Oguntoye, Process Technology, and Robert Robinson, Process Technology.

From Brazosport College: Mark Morales, Process Technology, and Hong To, Welding Technology.

From Galveston College: Frank Ross, Electrical and Electronics Technology, Samantha Weber, Electrical and Electronics Technology, and Angelica Yanez, Electrical and Electronics Technology.

From Houston Community College: Samson Akinlade, Engineering, Johnathan Barra, Electrician Technology, Victor Lopez, Welding Technology, Vaibhav Patel, Drafting and Design Technology, Binh Pham, Drafting and Design Technology, and Tuyen Le, Engineering Technology.

From Lee College: Javier Barajas, Instrumentation, Blake Bogie, Process Technology, Eleazar Cantu, Pipe Design Technology, Lawrence Daniel, Process Technology, Ellis Dorrance, Instrumentation, Marisela Puente, Process Technology, and Martin Resendez, CADD.

From Lone Star College: Justin Cassaro, Automated Manufacturing, Said Charouch, Petroleum Data Technology, Milton Edwards, Automated Manufacturing, Laura Gimenez, Chemical Engineering, Stephen Hilliard, Welding Technology, and Shannon Lee, Petroleum Data Technology.

From San Jacinto College: Jonathan Gallo, Instrumentation, Gladys Jackson, Process Technology, Laura Plazibat, Process Technology, and Austen Riche, Process Technology.

From Wharton County Junior College: Heather Bannert, Process Technology, Dillon Baumgarten, Process Technology, Brian Hausler, Process Technology, Carl Jones, Process Technology, Matthew Krenek, Process Technology, Willie Walker, Process Technology, and Dakota Wallace, Process Technology.

The COM Process Technology Program prepares students to work as process technicians in a high-demand field. COM first-year graduates with technical degrees average $73,509, according to a study by College Measures. 

The COM Mechanical Maintenance Technician and Machinist Programs offer classes and labs where students learn a wide range of skills, such as preventative maintenance, making machinery adjustments and repairing equipment. Mechanical maintenance technicians and millwrights are currently high-skills jobs, with a median hourly wage around $23, according to Workforce Solutions.

The COM Welding Program trains students in the various types of welding through hands-on training. The program enrolled its highest number of women ever in 2014-15.