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    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

    The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative has selected 200 local students to be part of the program’s fifth cohort, which will begin in January 2019. The students are predominantly from North Baton Rouge and are pursuing careers in electrical, pipefitting, millwright and welding crafts. Each student will receive free training and a National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, Level I, and Level II certification after completion of the program.

    The NBRITI program began in 2012 spearheaded by ExxonMobil in an effort to better connect community members to industry jobs. The training is based at Baton Rouge Community College’s Acadian Campus and provides no-cost training for high-demand crafts. For the past six years, several partners have supported the program and hired graduates including Baton Rouge Community College, ExxonMobil, Excel Group, Cajun Industries, ISC, Turner Industries, Performance Contractors, Jacobs Engineering, Pala Group, Triad, Brock Group, Geo Heat Exchangers, Stupp Corporation, GBRIA, Associated Builders and Contractors, Urban League of Louisiana, and Employ BR.

    “Our partnership is ensuring sustainable workforce educational opportunities in North Baton Rouge, as well as the entire region. ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to bring together business and industry, education institutions and the community is the model of corporate citizenship,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Steib.

    _G4A8249About 800 applicants for the fifth training class were screened by the Baton Rouge Community College and partner company representatives through a testing and interview process. Many attended the North Baton Rouge Career Fair in October to learn about opportunities in industry. The college will offer reduced-cost training opportunities for those students not accepted into the NBRITI program.

    “This training has the power to be transformative – not just for the graduates — but for their families as well. We will be hiring millwrights directly from this new class, and I pledge to continue to lead the initiative forward,” said ExxonMobil Refinery Manager Gloria Moncada. With the addition of a millwright track, this new class will triple in size compared to previous classes.

    A unique aspect of the program is a social skills component involving ongoing tutoring, financial literacy training, and resume and interview assistance. This involves additional support from organizations including the Urban League of Louisiana, BancorpSouth, and ExxonMobil YMCA Community Outreach Retiree Alliance.

    About 45 students of the current, fourth training class will graduate on Jan. 24, 2019, at a special ceremony at the Baton Rouge Community College Acadian Campus.

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    Middle school engineers, teacher tackle water robotics

    When the buzzer sounds, the students in Ingrid Cruz’s eighth-grade marine robotics class hop into action. Their mission? Compete against other teams to guide a remote-controlled underwater vehicle along the bottom of a pool to recover critical equipment—using only the robot’s camera to see.

    Cruz’s students attend the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, a science, technology, engineering, art and math-focused middle school. Its curriculum offers courses such as game design, computer applications and multimedia production. The goal is to get students interested in science and math topics past middle school, planting the seed of encouragement to pursue these subjects further in high school and college.

    Though some of the robots developed by Scotlandville’s students have started earning them ribbons, it took a little trial and error for the course to gain its footing. “The first day of our marine robotics competition three years ago was the first time our robot had ever been in the water,” Mrs. Cruz said. “As soon as it got wet, everything fell apart.”

    Part of the issue was a lack of access to a pool where they could test their robot prior to competing. When leaders at the ExxonMobil YMCA learned the school needed access to water, they put in a plan to let them use the facility’s pool. ExxonMobil also provided grants so the students could take swimming lessons and water safety courses. “So now we get to test our robot in an actual pool, in the deep end, and we’re having more success because of that,” Cruz said.
    But it takes more than a pool to develop underwater robots. It’s crucial for the students to strategize and work as a team, skills they learn throughout the school year leading up to the competition.

    “The students absolutely must demonstrate teamwork,” Cruz said. “Building the robot is not easy, and when one student has an idea and somebody has a different idea, they have to learn to work together and test everyone’s ideas to see which one works best.” Cruz said it took her students about three months to build their last robot.

    The applications of the technology they test at the YMCA pool go well beyond marine applications. Just to name a few, fields like archeology, aviation, oil and gas, and even space exploration all use remotely operated robots.7 SPEMA Robot

    “The missions have relevance to real life,” Cruz said. “During one, the kids had to maneuver the robot inside a shipwreck and identify some of the packages inside the ship. In another, they had to open a power source and replace a battery inside, so they had to install a gripper on the robot.”

    It may be a few years before Scotlandville students start careers in robotics or engineering, but that hasn’t kept them from being exposed to some of the biggest names in remotely operated vehicles. After a 2016 competition, for instance, representatives from one local company were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, they asked one of Scotlandville’s teams to show their technology to some of their managers.

    “We’re making the robotics courses relevant to the kids, letting them know that this is a viable pursuit,” Cruz said. “Developing these underwater robots is a first step that could inspire our next generation of engineers and innovators.

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    La. teachers have until Jan. 31 to apply for classroom funding

    AdoptAClassroom.com and ExxonMobil have extended the deadline for teachers to receive up to $100 each of free funding for their classrooms through Jan. 31.

    The opportunity has also expanded to include middle and high school teachers at qualifying Title 1 Schools in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. The non-profi t, AdoptAClassroom.org pairs up donors with
    teachers across the U.S. to provide the funds they need to purchase hands-on learning resources.

    When “adopted,” teachers receive 100% of the contributed funds to purchase items that meet their individual classroom needs.

    The $100,000 check presented to support local Baton Rouge classrooms
    through AdoptAClassroom.org was funded from the commitment of donating two cents per gallon of fuel sold at local ExxonMobil-branded service stations throughout the month of November 2014.

    Teachers may visit AdoptAClassroom.org and click on the “Register Your Classroom” link to register.

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