ExxonMobil’s Venture Executive Paul Guilfoyle (left) and Del Mar President Mark Escamilla speak about new hands-on training opportunities students will have. Students can look forward to virtual reality training as one of the new digital technologies being provided.

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures donated $1.5 million Del Mar College to provide new equipment and training for the college’s workforce training programs.

The donation took place March 21 in the unfinished building for the Workforce Development Center on West Campus.

Del Mar President Mark Escamilla said the new facility is a growing pain he is glad to have.

“The economy of the Coastal Bend is growing by leaps and bounds,” Escamilla said. “With industries coming into the regions and creating more, and more, and more career opportunities for the local workforce.”

Lenora Keas, vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives, called the donation extraordinary.

“Gulf Coast Growth Ventures is demonstrating in a big way with commitment to students, the community and the workforce with this donation,” Keas said. “Today is an extraordinary day as far as moving us forward in technology, and technology that the students will be able to use.”

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures is a combined project between ExxonMobil and SABIC, a manufacturing company based in Saudi Arabia. The group plans to build an ethylene production plant in San Patricio County that would employ 600 people with an average salary of $90,000.

ExxonMobil’s Venture Executive Paul Guilfoyle said some of the new technologies that will be provided are fully enabled plants with Wi-Fi, the speed of 5G, cloud computing and virtual reality training.

“The advances in automation and digital technologies…have transformed these jobs into what they are today, and move from mostly brawn to mostly brain,” Guilfoyle said.

 Mohammed Al-Wakeel, SABIC’S venture executive, said he started his career in a process plant.

“Frankly, that was a very important step in my career because it taught me with hands-on experience,” Al-Wakeel said. “You all will have that opportunity as well that will allow you to get a better job. A better job means better pay, which means a better life.”

Leticia Alvarado and Gary Tschoepe, both process technology majors, spoke at the event to thank Gulf Coast Growth Ventures.

“I’ve already earned an associate degree in biology and occupational safety as well here at Del Mar,” Alvarado said. “Del Mar has played a huge role in my success as a student and has helped me build my career.”

Tschoepe said the hands-on experience in the future training will prove wonders.

“You can learn everything you want in a textbook, but once you get out there and get your hands on things, touch the valves and feel the vibrations of the machines, it makes a huge difference,” Tschoepe said. “This new equipment is going to help us in the future being able to get out here and get our hands on these machines and see them operate in front of our faces.”

After hearing the two students voice their praise, Escamilla reiterated how learners at Del Mar always achieve their goals with education.

“I think we should change our tagline from ‘Dreams Delivered’ to ‘Dreams Conquered,’” he said.

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