(MARSHALL, Texas) – Once equipment is installed at a chemical plant, personnel are needed to operate it.
Texas State Technical College’s Process Operations program in Marshall teaches industrial processes, troubleshooting, process instrumentation and other topics to students interested in pursuing jobs as chemical, gas plant, power plant or refinery operators.
“We have started to get Process Operations known by our Instrumentation Technology contacts that have gone back to their plants and gone to their operators and said we have the program at TSTC,” said Robert Lovelace, TSTC’s statewide department chair for the Instrumentation Technology and Process Operations programs.
Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview continues to hire interns and graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program, said Mike Tucker, a company learning services technologist. Since 2017, the global specialty materials company has hired more than 20 TSTC alumni.
TSTC is one of two colleges in Texas that have industry-validated Process Operations programs the company looks to for prospective employees.
“It is challenging to fill these positions, so we use our internship program as a three-month interview,” Tucker said. “The internship screening process is rigorous.”
Nick Scott, operations support manager at Pergan Marshall in Marshall, said the company has seen an increase in applicants for internships and full-time employment in the last year. But, he said it is becoming harder to find good candidates who understand the commitment to working at a facility that operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and can be part of a diverse group of employees. The company manufactures full-line organic peroxide for the processing and polymer production industries.
Scott said TSTC’s faculty and staff make it easy to find job candidates with an understanding of the basic principles of manufacturing.
“We often prefer hiring graduates from TSTC’s Process Operations program because the students chose this path because they had an interest in manufacturing,” Scott said. “They committed to multiple semesters of coursework, they have a general understanding of the equipment used in manufacturing environments and they are aware of safety hazards that could be present in a plant environment.”
Brady A. Sedler, site human resources manager at Sherwin-Williams in Garland, said the company had a challenging time filling reactor operator jobs.
“But, with the relationship we’ve built with TSTC and the programs they offer, it’s been nice to see future talent come to Sherwin-Williams from TSTC,” Sedler said. “We look forward to the continued partnership.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.