CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery celebrated National STEM Day on Thursday, at the Texas State Aqurium, with an interactive event where the STEM Teacher of the Year was also awarded.
Students and educators who integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into classrooms at area schools joined CITGO grant recipients from Del Mar College, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Texas A&M Kingsville, Garcia Elementary, Cunningham Middle School, Foy H. Moody High School, and West Oso ISD.
Guests were encouraged to apply their STEM skills at interactive stations set up throughout the event. Activities included DNA extraction, virtual welding, Morse code translation, demonstrations by underwater and land robots, and much more. Gateway to Technology teacher Lori Bennett was recognized as the STEM Teacher of the Year. Ms. Bennett teaches STEM students at Cunningham Middle School.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics 2016 Employment Report, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million in 2016, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. CITGO General Manager Community Relations, CSR and Legislative Affairs Larry Elizondo said this is one of the reasons CITGO engages students in STEM curriculum.
“CITGO recognizes the importance of exposing students to STEM and helping them find what they are interested in, what they are good at and what they can make their life’s work,” Elizondo said. “Through these types of experiences, we hope to give them a jump-start on recognizing where they can fit into our local job force and local economy.”
“Giving our local students every advantage in advancing their education in the communities in which we live and work is extremely important to CITGO,” said Trina Martinez, vice president & general manager of the CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery. “Encouraging STEM education in our area schools is a win all the way around. CITGO hires locally, so we are strengthening our talent pool. For students, this kind of early preparation will help them enter the workforce better prepared to compete and succeed.”
CITGO launched the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline program in 2016. This initiative partners with local schools to enhance and increase access to STEM in the classroom. The program promotes the importance of STEM education to 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, and those that prepare students for STEM technical and university level curriculum.
To date, the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline has already benefited more than 35,000 students and educators across the CITGO operational footprint, strengthening the communities where the company has a presence.