Education, industry leaders show San Jacinto College’s new Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology during tour


San Jacinto College officials and leaders from the petrochemical and energy industries spent the morning of Aug. 21 showing off the college’s new Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology.

The center, which opens for classes Aug. 26, will train about 2,800 students to start with the knowledge and experience necessary to work at one of the 132 plants within a 12-mile radius of the college. The college partnered with leaders from the petrochemical and energy industries to design the center and its curriculum, said Jim Griffin, the associate vice chancellor and senior vice president for the center.

“It’s definitely a project that is dynamic and not static,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

During the tour, officials showed off some of the classrooms and equipment students would use, including a control room and distillation processing unit common at petrochemical and energy plants. Students will learn to use the control room and its stations to interact with other students outdoors at processing unit, which was built specifically for training purposes. Eventually, students will run the control room and processing unit 24 hours a day as they would at a real plant, Griffin said.

The control room can simulate common issues plants experience, such as pump failures or problems with valves. Students in the control room will work by radio with those at the processing unit, similar to how it is done at a real plant, Griffin said.

“It gives good hands-on opportunity to our students,” he said.

Officials also showed off performance learning platforms, which are labs that teach instrumentation and control theories. The platforms include screens on which students can watch instruction videos to learn as they interact with the devices, said Jeff Hackney, director of global education services for petrochemical company Emerson.

Hackney said the platforms are one example of how students at the center will have access to the “latest and greatest” technology for years to come to train and learn on. It is possible to integrate the platforms with virtual and augmented reality technology so students can learn remotely, he said.

Leaders displayed an inspection testing lab, which is where students will learn hands-on ways to test electrical, mechanical and other systems for faults. The center also includes labs to learn about electrical systems, safety procedures and other industry standards.

The center at 7901 W. Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, cost $60 million to build and was funded by the college’s $425 million 2015 bond. The 151,000-square-foot building is the largest petrochemical training facility in the Gulf Coast region and is designed to accommodate a 50% growth in enrollment.

Emerson is one of over two dozen industry partnerships the college established to create the center.

“We’re super excited to be partnered with San Jacinto,” Hackney said.

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Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for a few years, covering topics such as city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be an editor with Community Impact. In his free time, Magee enjoys playing video games, jamming on the drums and bass, longboarding and petting his cat.
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