An inquiring phone call led to a generous donation from BP to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Stephen Richardson, plant manager of the BP Gas Processing Plant, called Gulf Coast Petro Processing instructor Tommie Broome, at the Jackson County Campus, to see how BP could be more involved in the college’s Process Operations Technology program.
“The first thing I told him was to hire some of my students," Broome said.
But Richardson and BP did the next best thing by donating $12,000 to help the Petrochemical Refining program continue to upgrade equipment and continue to educate and prepare students with the technical skills required for employment in the field of process operations technology.
"Seriously, this donation will help purchase a training model to be used in the classroom here,” Broome added. “One of these operating models speaks louder than hours of lecture."
Derek Smith, BP Process Optimization Coordinator, presented the check to Broome. Smith graduated from the college’s Petro Processing program in December 2007, and began working as an intern at BP in July 2007. BP also helped him arrange his schedule so he could finish his classes at Gulf Coast while maintaining his position as an intern until he was able to work at the plant full-time.
"This is a great program," Smith said. "It really helps you be prepared to work in this field."
The program is based on competencies in demonstrating technical knowledge, skill, and ability in the following areas: petrochemical industry equipment, instrumentation, process systems, quality, and troubleshooting.
“Gulf Coast’s graduating students have the highest regard for personal safety, safety in the workplace and protecting the environment,” Broome added.
The comprehensive two-year program is designed to prepare students for an entry-level position in the field of process technology. It also prepares students to develop careers as safe, efficient, environmentally responsible employees.
"There's a need for getting workers with a concept of the work required in this industry," said Susan Willis, BP Pascagoula Gas Processing Plant staff assistant. "We are always in need of good, trained workers."
Broome said job placement is predicted to be outstanding for process technicians during the next five-10 years, and entry level salaries start between $55,000-$65,000 a year.
“This donation serves as an excellent example of corporate partners supporting a needed program at the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Jason Pugh, vice president of the college’s Jackson County Campus. "We thank BP for its donation to this program, which is one of our best examples of local industry and the college working together."