Petroleum Academy Students Prepare for What's Next

November 18, 2020 — Throughout the booms and busts, one thing has remained the same: the oil industry is constantly changing. That's why Midland ISD's Petroleum Academy is adjusting its curriculum, to help students meet the needs of the lifeblood industry in the Permian Basin.
 
"This is so much more than oil and gas - it's everything related to energy," said Mickala Harper, MISD's Director of Career and Technical Education.
 
"There are a couple of classes that are very specific to petroleum, like Introduction to Petroleum and Recovery and Production," said Petroleum Academy Coordinator Tammy Ridgway. "But it goes beyond that, touching on the energy industry as a whole, from exploration and production to transporting it through welded pipelines and consuming it in our automobiles that rely on skilled auto and diesel technicians to keep us going. We provide the industry skilled workers from production to consumption and beyond."  
 
The Petroleum Academy offers several tracks, where students can earn certificates that will help them land a good job once they graduate. Pathways include Energy Technology, Automotive, Diesel, Welding, and College Engineering.
 
"Some of our students are looking for that certificate that will lead to an immediate job after graduation, while others plan to pursue an engineering degree in college," Harper said. "The goal of this academy is to prepare them to meet those goals, no matter what they are."
 
Graduates of the program are equipped to become geophysical or geological technicians, or enter the industry as experts in fracking, wireline, gas plant operations, wellhead service and many other important careers.
 
The curriculum also offers prerequisite classes for students wishing to pursue mechanical engineering degrees in college.
 
"The engineering programs at the universities are very theory-based," Ridgway said. "Our curriculum introduces them to the engineering concepts in a technical, hands on environment. What we teach is then reinforced by the theory they'll learn in college."
 
Harper says the academy is ever-expanding, and hopes to add more programs and pathways in the near future.
 
"We plan to expand to even more of an energy academy, where we'll have areas of water and wind energy technology," Harper said.
 
The Petroleum Academy is just one of three academies and dozens of career pathways offered at Midland ISD through a partnership with Midland College.
 
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Sam Eaton
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