This week BP America announced it is funding a $50,000 initiative to equip Trumbull County teachers and students with a web-based STEM-education program. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics—subjects especially important in the region’s growing oil and gas industry. BP America made the announcement at the Trumbull County Educational Service Center (TCESC) to local educators, elected officials, and media. TCESC, the Youngstown- Warren Regional Chamber and the Eastern Ohio P-16 Partnership of Education helped facilitate the program with BP.
The Defined STEM program will help 20,000 students from fourth to 12th grades. The donation covers the cost of the licensing software to make it available in every county classroom. 200 teachers will also be trained during a two-year period from the donation. Students and teachers will learn from a state-of-the-art, interactive web-based program they can access from the classroom or their home. They will watch videos and hear from people in STEM-related fields to complete activities. Students will become aware of what engineers to day-to-day, hopefully encouraging them to consider a similar career in the future. During the two-year program, BP will receive updates from TCESC on what parts of the program are being utilized and students’ progress.
The Youngstown Vindicator covered the announcement and spoke to BP’s Curtis Thomas about the company’s reasoning for funding the program:
“We’re a company of engineers, mathematicians and scientists, and we strongly believe in supporting STEM-education initiatives within the communities where we do business,” said Curtis Thomas, BP’s Director of Government and Public Affairs in Ohio—Donation from BP to cover STEM program 10/25/12
Like other oil and gas companies developing Ohio’s Utica Shale, BP realizes the importance of giving back to the community. But that’s not the only motive. As the industry grows, a larger workforce is needed. BP has funded similar programs around the U.S. including New Mexico and Wyoming. The Youngstown Vindicator and the Youngstown Business Journal both spoke with BP officials about how the STEM program can provide them with employees in the future:
“Our hope and our wish is for some of these students to come back and work as engineers within the industry.” [Curtis Thomas, BP’s Director of Government and Public Affairs in Ohio]—Donation from BP to cover STEM program 10/25/12
Bruce Abbuhl, Ohio program manager for BP, said the company contributes to communities it does business in all over the world, and this initiative proved especially important to establishing a highly qualified workforce that could one day serve the energy industry.
“We have to attract and retain employees to work in these area, and most people coming in want to stay because of good school systems,” Abbuhl said.—BP Gives $50,000 Toward Trumbull STEM Programs 10/25/12
At the end of the two-year subscription to the web-based Defined STEM program, BP and Trumbull County Schools will evaluate how the program went and if it should be continued. This donation shows that all members of the community are benefiting from shale development. Adults looking for work are now finding jobs, landowners are receiving money for their families, industries are producing again, and now students are receiving a better education.