Phillips 66 Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex donated $30,000 to the Southwest Louisiana Alliance Foundation Inc. to be used for a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics program at the College Street Career and Technical Center and the Westlake High School Career and Technical Center.
Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, the new program will equip 72 Calcasieu students with the skills necessary to be successful in working with computer coding and robotics.
The program was developed by Carnegie Melon University and uses the same technology currently used in industry. The donation also allows one teacher from each of the schools to travel to Pittsburgh to attend training on the curriculum and hardware necessary to successfully implement the program.
Karl Bruchhaus, Calcasieu Parish school superintendent, said in news release, “We are grateful for the opportunities that arise through relationships with community partners like Phillips 66. The addition of this STEM program to our Career and Technical Centers will further interest students in pursuing technological careers such as coding and robotics, which can lead them to future careers right here in Southwest Louisiana. This funding will directly impact the lives of our students as we jointly prepare them to become the workforce of tomorrow.”
The Southwest Louisiana Alliance Foundation works to leverage the resources of local businesses and industries in such a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties, said Richard B. Smith, vice president of business and workforce development. While praising the current economic boom of construction in Southwest Louisiana, the alliance noted a gap in early training for information technology. “We don’t want to be all one thing in Southwest Louisiana,” said Smith. Over time and working with even young children, the alliance hopes to create a STEM educational career path that includes computer programming, app and game design and “all the things kids are already doing but aren’t actively being trained in.”
The foundation has worked for nearly a year coordinating details between Phillips 66 and CPSB. In a news release, Richard G. Harbison, Phillips 66 Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex plant manager, said, “This educational initiative is one way we can align our key company values to improve lives where we live and work.”