Bechtel donates $30K worth of tools to Nederland High in effort to help educate needed workforce

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

NEDERLAND — Principal Natalie Gomez was there when one of her students at Nederland High was watching representatives from Bechtel unload $30,000 worth of material donations to the school Tuesday morning.

“We asked him, ‘how do you feel?” Gomez recalled. “He said, ‘blessed. We really need to make them proud.’ That is internalized. It’s going to be good stuff.”

Gomez shared the story Tuesday after a formal donation ceremony and round of speeches from Bechtel representatives and Nederland Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Stuart Kieschnick.

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Bechtel, a global powerhouse in the fields of engineering, construction and project management, is leading construction of Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG facility.

Bechtel officials said they employ more than 3,000 craft professionals on LNG projects and expect to expand to more than 20,000 at peak.

That means a larger, talented workforce is needed, which includes investment in local education.

On Tuesday, Bechtel donated more than 800 new hand, technical and construction tools to the Nederland High Career Technical Education welding programs.

“It’s state-of-the-art,” Gomez said. “This ups the game. We’re able to really give the kids hands-on application with the finest of tools. Look at all of this. It is unbelievable. When they get to graduation, they are going to be a step above. It is a blessing and pretty amazing.”

Bechtel’s PALNG Project Manager Kane McIntosh speaks to Nederland High students and guests Tuesday following a company donation of $30,000 worth of tools. (Stephen Hemelt/The News)

Bechtel’s PALNG Project Manager Kane McIntosh said the company’s motto in action involves leaving the community in better shape when they finish as opposed to when they began.

According to McIntosh, Bechtel has a longstanding tradition of continuous work in Port Arthur and the Golden Triangle.

“The folks who work on our projects, especially here in Texas and Louisiana, are the folks who are going to fish here, hunt here and raise a family here,” McIntosh said. “We want this place to be better and better with every project. What we are hoping to do here by donating these tools is give the local community an even bigger head start and jump start in entering the field.”

He said the tools are crucial for students to gain hands-on experience and master the curriculum set by the National Center for Construction Education & Research.

“The education that is being provided here in school is really nothing without the tools behind it,” McIntosh said. “Theory is good, but hands-on practice and being able to do these things before they get on the jobsite is key. (The graduating students) will be able to come in a little more knowledgeable with a little more practice than the other folks that don’t have this opportunity.”

Kieschnick told Nederland students present at the donation ceremony that the United States produces the best builders in the world.

“We build refineries. We build ships. We build skyscrapers,” he said. “One of the reasons we are the best builders in the word is because we have the best craftsmen in the world. That can never go away.

“Progress means building. (These classes are) as important as a high-level statistics class or a college credit English 4 class. There is no difference. What you learn here are skills for life. I would like to thank Bechtel for making that available to us. This is a great opportunity.”

According to Nederland High CTE Director Bryan Spell, this partnership provides students another pathway to high-skill, high-wage and high-demand jobs in the region.

“This path would not have been possible without Bechtel’s leadership and support,” he said. “Bechtel’s generosity is very much appreciated, but it is their belief in and commitment to our young women and men that has created a great excitement about the program and its potential.”