VC offers accelerated program to train Dow process technicians

Victoria College is conducting accelerated training for 17 workers from Dow’s UCC Seadrift Operations site who are seeking to become process technicians.

The new 13-week program, which began in late January, builds on the participants’ previous education and work experience. When the training ends in late April, they will be awarded a Customized Process Technology Certificate.

Demand for skilled workers in the petrochemical industry is high, and the program was developed through collaboration between VC and Dow to help meet Dow’s workforce needs.

"We see there is a need in our area because there is a shortage of process operators and the petrochemical plants are hiring right now,” said Rachel Nessel, VC Workforce & Continuing Education assistant director. “Offering the program in a condensed format will benefit all those involved.”

This program is also unique in that it combines two types of classes offered at VC, she added.

“This is the first time Victoria College credit and noncredit classes have been integrated into a customized training program to meet the needs of local industry,” Nessel said.

Unlike the Associate of Applied Science degree in Process Technology, which includes 72 credit hours, these employees will earn the Customized Process Technology Certificate with 23 credit hours.

“Dow and Victoria College worked together to condense the curriculum to include the classes/content that are most important and relevant to the skill sets required/desired at Dow,” Nessel said.

At the end of training in April, the students will also have earned 48 contact hours of noncredit coursework, Nessel said. These 48 noncredit contact hours includes the 32-hour Introduction to Process Technology, eight-hour Maintenance Skills for Operators and eight-hour Instrument Troubleshooting classes. Noncredit classes are not applicable toward a degree.

She said this type of training also saves area businesses travel time and money.

Dow officials agreed, adding that this partnership helps the workers and the community.

“It is great to have a partner like Victoria College to provide high-quality, customized training close to home,” said Candace Nunley, Dow Seadrift Operations’ site learning leader. “Our employees are receiving valuable instruction, while at the same time, we continue to support local education in our community.”

The students attend classes eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. They learn both theoretical and practical knowledge in the areas of production equipment, plant processes, safety, quality, instrumentation, operations and troubleshooting through classroom lecture, team exercises and hands-on lab applications.

Nessel said that other petrochemical companies have expressed interest in doing similar training for their workers.

“The condensed program is very appealing to these companies.” Nessel said. “It is an effective way to provide accelerated training to employees who have applicable work experience or educational credentials. Industry employers want this type of training to be completed in less than two years, the time it typically takes for the associate degree program.”

Among those taking the training is Marc Banda, of Victoria, who worked as a contractor at Dow for five years and was already familiar with many aspects of plant operation. However, he said the Process Technology Program has taught him more and “opened up a whole new window.”

“It’s a lot of information, but we have really good instructors,” said Banda. “If they don’t know the answer, they will find it for us.”

Durwin Epley, of Seadrift, complimented the quality of instruction he is receiving in the program.

“Our classroom instructors are former Dow and UCC employees who have many years of hands-on experience,” he said. “They are doing an excellent job. Some of the material they go over with us isn’t in the books. They are giving us some of their knowledge on top of what we are studying in the books. That’s a win-win.”

Photo caption: Participants in the 13-week Process Technology Program, developed for Dow by Victoria College are, seated, from left: Jesse Garza, Tomas Gonzalez-Osorio, Robert Liserio, Wes Tisdale and Freddy Trevino. Standing, from left, are: Zimran Tahir, Marc Banda, Durwin Epley, Bryan James, Chase Tisdale, Eric Garcia, John Hirschhauser, Fernando Acosta, Matthew Perez, Patrick Pena and Marcus Delgado. Not pictured is Michelle Dawdy.

Published: Friday, 06 March 2015

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