About 60 Houston-area Girl Scouts, their leaders, parents and employees’ daughters recently received guidance on STEM-related (science, engineering, technology and math) opportunities in the petroleum industry firsthand – from women working in such careers at the Galveston Bay refinery.
“The GBR Women’s Network hosted a Marathon Petroleum Girl Scout Day at the GBR Training Center,” explains Refining Engineer Anna Hernandez, who coordinated the project. “Our goal was to spark an interest in STEM careers at an age when girls are beginning to think about what they want to do with their lives and to show them career opportunities here at the refinery.”
Tara Anderson, director of external mobilization for the American Petroleum Institute (API), served as keynote speaker for the event. Employee volunteers shared details about their jobs, education and career paths. Participants also got a chance to do some hands-on activities, with topics ranging from metallurgy, gases, lubrication and distillation to sampling, measuring, fire chemistry and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Demonstrations included: cleaning copper pennies with lemon juice (metallurgy/corrosion); freezing/shattering roses with liquid nitrogen and using baking soda/vinegar to inflate balloons (gases); making perfume from essential oils (distillation); a fashion show of fire-resistant and other fabrics, including nylon (a petroleum-derived product); and the chemistry of fire (fire triangle).
“Participants also got a chance to see what a day in the life of an operator is really like. They took samples, connected hoses and fittings, for instance,” says Hernandez. “Everybody got a chance to get their hands dirty and, judging from the reviews, everybody had a good time. Some even stated they want to work here,” she adds.
“We want girls to know there are great opportunities out there. STEM careers are fun, challenging and fulfilling – and you can make a great living. We also want them to know that women can do this,” Hernandez adds. “We do, and you can, too.”
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