HISD Opens Petroleum Academies at Three High Schools

Those who follow the energy industry say not enough students in the United States are going into that field after graduation. This shortage has prompted the Houston Independent School District to launch three new petroleum academies at local high schools. Bill Stamps has details.

If you ask high school or college students what profession they’d like to go into, you’re likely to hear: teaching, business, social work, or even the media. But experts say what you won’t hear enough of is this:

“At Carnegie Vanguard I thought I wanted to be a chemical engineer. Now that I’ve left Carnegie for the Petroleum Academy and Milby High School, I know I want to be a Chemical Engineer.”

That’s Eleventh Grader Beverly Biggs. She’s one of the first to enroll in three new Academies at Milby, Lamar and Westside High schools. The engineering and geosciences academies will expose students to careers in the petroleum industry.

Mayor Bill White spoke at the grand opening for the three academies and talked about a report called the Gathering Storm.

“And in that report they highlighted the single biggest issue they thought confronting a sustainable strong American economy was the need to have more young energy professionals trained.”

At a time when many jobs or moving over seas and other are simply being eliminated, white says jobs in the energy sector are abundant not to mention high paying.

“There are what we call company men or women on oil and gas wells who are trained professionals who’ve obtained high school education plus two years and a lifetime of training who are making over 200-thousand dollars.”

White says there’s not many jobs that pay that kind of money regardless of education.

“I don’t how HISD’s payscale is, but it certainly beats the payscale of a lot of jobs available in the public sector.”

Some say half of the US work force will be gone in ten years when most baby boomers are retired. Energy experts say that makes Academies like the ones HISD has started even more important.

Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.