More than 35 students from Tomball Independent School District’s Willow Wood Junior High spent a half-day at Baker Hughes’s Rankin Road facility to conclude a year-long program to introduce students to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The day included a tour of the additive manufacturing area and assembly floor, as well as introduction to drilling tools used by Baker Hughes to explore for oil and natural gas. The students also witnessed demonstrations of 3-D printing of plastic and metal elements used in Baker Hughes engines, machines and tools.
Baker Hughes employees have engaged with students throughout the year virtually in the classroom. The tour was the first time they met in person.
The STEM coaching program started during Engineering Week when students learned about Engineering careers. In virtual sessions throughout the school year, they learned 3-D modeling and printing; software programming and cyber security; machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI); IoT smart devices; and drone technology and robotics.
“Baker Hughes employees provided our students practical experience and demonstrated how these processes can reduce costs and time to build important materials,” Jones added.
One student interested in a STEM career was pleased that Baker Hughes employees answered all her questions about the manufacturing process and careers. Another student appreciated the day’s focus on teamwork, knowledge of technology and the display of technology in use. Teamwork was emphasized when groups of students competed against one another to build an oil rig and platform using paper, tape, sticks and straws. The platform had to support a cell phone or two bags of candy.
Amanda Roman, Tomball ISD CTE Coordinator, called the pilot program a wonderful experience intended to showcase STEM careers and encourage students to pursue those careers. Roman and Jones both agreed that the program met its goal and exceeded expectations.
The STEM coaching program is a Baker Hughes initiative of its Asian Pacific American Forum (APAF) Employee Resource Group. Raj Sen and Ron Nair are co-leads of the forum’s community outreach efforts.
“We started the STEM outreach in Houston ISD and then Spring Branch to educate underserved students about STEM careers,” Nair said. “Tomball Economic Development Corporation and Tomball ISD have been excellent new partners helping us align our program to reach students learning about technology and science. We hope to scale up the program next year to add more schools and expose more students to STEM.”
APAF members worked as coaches during the school year, and, along with other Baker Hughes employees participated in the tour. Coaches include David Pham, lead coach for all sessions, and Sen, Nair, Berrill Behrens, Mayra Torres, Katerina Moutafis, Olivia Bravo, Jayesh Jain, and Ashraf El-Messidi. Additional volunteers participating in the Baker Hughes event were Sujeev Chittipolu, Arti Patel, Tanuja Patankar, Thomas Dobrowolski, Andrew Platt, Carter Rose, Natasha Gardner, Ana Gonzalez, Louise Bachelier and Crystal Li.
Tiffani Wooten, Assistant Director with Tomball EDC, coordinated the STEM initiative between Tomball ISD and Baker Hughes.
“One of the important platforms in the Tomball EDC mission is to create a qualified workforce for the high-paying advanced manufacturing jobs we are attracting to Tomball. It is rewarding when you see students interested and engaged in STEM activities and careers,” Wooten offered.
In a lunchtime talk, Baker Hughes Chief Technology Officer Anthony Krebs encouraged students to continue their STEM journey because opportunities with STEM are viewed as desirable, high-paying careers. “You do not have to be perfect – I did not make all As & Bs in high school – to get a job doing cool things like 3-D printing,” Krebs told the students.
Amrish Lobo, Global Supply Chain Executive Director at Baker Hughes, followed Krebs and reinforced that theme. He pointed out that Howard Hughes, Sr., founder of Baker Hughes, had an idea that became the cutting-edge drilling technology desired by all drilling companies. Lobo challenged students to aspire to be the person with the next idea that changes the world.