Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
To mark National Engineers Week, Junior Achievement of the Golden Triangle held its third annual Engineering Job Shadow lunch Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Beaumont Event Center. The event paired 155 students from high schools in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches-Groves and Orange with 75 professional engineers from more than 15 local companies and engineering firms. Flint Hills Resources was the presenting sponsor for the lunch.
The job shadow event was designed for local industry engineers to help area high school students discover the field of engineering through science experiments and dialogue. Together for about three hours, engineers and students completed two science projects, shared lunch and observed company-led science demonstrations—all designed to spark student interest in engineering as a career path. In addition to meeting professional engineers, the students also had the opportunity to tour Lamar University’s College of Engineering.
Cindy Westfall, executive director for Junior Achievement of the Golden Triangle, said, “This year’s event was a huge success, with student participation up 23 percent from last year. Now in its third year, the Engineering Job Shadow lunch is something students have heard about and look forward to attending. We are pleased to have been able to include youth from Nederland and Port Neches-Groves for the first time.”
Using no more than common household items – marshmallows, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, candy and helium balloons – high school students explored basic scientific laws and principles used daily in area plants that produce fuels and the chemical building blocks for products ranging from plastic containers and medical supplies to fabrics and cosmetics.
“The local refining and chemical industries are taking an active role in inspiring the next generation of engineers,” said Jeff Tilley, ventures director for Flint Hills Resources in Port Arthur and a Junior Achievement board member. “Our company is proud to sponsor Junior Achievement’s Engineering Job Shadow lunch. It’s a great opportunity to connect with area youth to promote the tremendous opportunities available for those with engineering degrees and trade or craft certifications.”
“It’s important students understand how what they learn in school applies in the real world, especially now that they will have the flexibility to more closely align their high school coursework with their talents, interests and future goals,” said Pat Calhoun, director for the Beaumont Independent School District’s Career and Technology Education and a Junior Achievement board member. “Events like this give the students a reference point that can help guide their future choices.”
Junior Achievement is the world’s largest and fastest-growing organization dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise. Through age-appropriate curricula, Junior Achievement programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers and consumers.
Junior Achievement programs continue through the middle and high school grades, preparing students for additional key economic and workforce issues they will face in the future. Today, Junior Achievement reaches more than seven million students through 140 offices nationwide and another two million students in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Westfall said, “None of this would have been possible without the 75 engineers who volunteered today. We also would like to thank Flint Hills Resources for underwriting the event and the other primary-sponsor companies ExxonMobil and INVISTA. These funds we raised today will allow us to continue our mission of empowering youth to own their economic success.”
For more information on Junior Achievement, visit www.ja.org.