Memorial career and technology students learning new workforce skills thanks to Bechtel, Port Arthur LNG

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

Memorial High School Career And Technology Education students have a new chance to learn a trade thanks to a partnership with Bechtel.

Kane McIntosh, Bechtel’s project manager for Port Arthur LNG, along with project manager Lon Smith and others, toured the CATE building Thursday.

McIntosh said Bethtel and Sempra are working to build a world class LNG facility in Sabine Pass and want to reach out to target local communities.

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He said leaders learned through the lifecycle of building the craft professional forces, one must keep toggling back and forth.

“It used to be that we could come in to an area and use our existing craft forces that are here,” McIntosh said.

“Now, we’re targeting high schools to generate that craft professional labor that we can, really from day one when they graduate, use at our job sites.”

CATE Director Kevin Johnson, left, and CATE welding instructor Vandie Smith discuss a project constructed by students earlier this year. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Mcintosh said the 11th graders who are going into the program in Port Arthur could feasibly be offered a job in two years.

Safety is a big part of Bechtel’s philosophy and is something that is learned at the beginning, though learning happens every day.

“And then getting into the fundamentals of what is a pipe fitter do, learning the different aspects and key to this as you come out with a certification that is marketable anywhere in the world,” he said. “You want to go be a pipe fitter? You’re gonna learn the skills that get you, not in kind of step to be a pipe fitter, but a little bit more than that.”

Once students graduate from the program, they will be NCCER certified as a pipe fitter.

Adrienne Lott, director of communications services for Port Arthur Independent School District, said CATE has more than a dozen programs and this adds another enrichment effort for students to enter the workforce.

“A lot of kids leave technical schools and make $50, $60 $70,000 a year, which is equivalent to a four-year degree graduate entering the workforce,” Lott said.

“So hopefully this will allow our students who may not be college material to actually go straight from high school into the workforce and still make a very nice wage.”

The group toured some of the departments at the CATE building, stopping over at HVAC, welding, pipe fitting and automotive. The HVAC room will a host the pipefitting classes.