Published 12:00 am Monday, April 11, 2005

Dow teams with schools to offer career choices


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – Career Builders, Inc., Dow Chemical Company and Louisiana Technical College teamed up on Tuesday, to bring the students of Hahnville High School a new perspective of life after graduation.

Most students after high school graduation go on to attend a four-year university, but now there is a new alternative, a PTEC (process technology) degree. This is a two-year associate of applied science degree that educates students about working as process technology operators in the Louisiana chemical industry. This degree is offered at Louisiana Technical College in Reserve.

“The school tries to accommodate business and industry in the area,” said Dennis Murphy, campus dean of Louisiana Technical College, River Parish Campus. “That’s why we offer process operations, instrumentation, industrial maintenance, welding and drafting. We’re trying to get our students placed inside our community. The industry is hungry for good skilled labor. You have to be a team player with a good work ethic, it means everything.”

A PTEC course is offered at the high school, to help students get a head start on the associate degree. Wayne Adams, environmental health and safety technologist for Dow Chemical Company, has worked for Dow for 25 years and enjoys helping students find out about the opportunities available in the chemical industry.

“Right now, the school has a PTEC 101 program,” said Adams. “There’s a group of us at Dow Chemical that actually come over to the high school and teach some of that introduction PTEC course.”

This class is the same class taught at Louisiana Technical College and by taking the class, students will receive college credit, according to Adams.

A group of students at Hahnville High got the chance to experience a process technology hands-on learning trailer, while another group watched a video and had an open discussion about the PTEC program with Career Builders, Executive Director, Stacey Chiasson.

Hahnville High students expressed their thoughts on the presentation and how students will benefit.

“I basically think it’s a good opportunity,” said Rachel Byrd, a junior. “I’m kind of into the four-year college type thing, but I think if you’re really good hands on, then it’s good for you.”

“It seems like a lot of interesting stuff,” said Rhett Sandusky, a junior. “It is more hands-on, not so much academic, because some people aren’t really into that, but it is a good opportunity for people of that nature.”

Process Instructor at the River Parish Campus, Keith Tollison, stressed the need of new workers in the plant, because of the rising retirement rate. Most of the current workers, have been with the plant for more than 20 years.

“We are recruiting for industry,” said Tollison. “We are trying to recruit good students and as soon as we train them, the industry is picking them up. There is such a need for skilled technicians to work in process and with a lot of guys retiring, the average age is 45 years old for operators.”

Tollison said the college trains students in different areas such as, fluid mechanics, process in general, instrumentation training, how to read gauges, levels and temperatures.

“You can make, starting off, $35,000,” said Tollison. “And only after a two-year program. That’s pretty good.”