DMC West unveils new hands-on laboratory

Del Mar College’s West Campus celebrated the unveiling of the new DMC Process Technology and Instrumentation Pilot Plant on March 10 for the official opening of the new training facility.

The college’s Process Technology Program and new Instrumentation Program are addressing the region’s growing need for skilled technicians in process, instrumentation, industrial automation, process control, safety and related fields by upgrading and adding state-of-the art instruction equipment such as the pilot plant.

The pilot plant includes a large-scale industrial process system that facilitates training in operations in field activities regularly undertaken by process operators/technicians within the refining, petrochemical and oil and gas industries.

Students_PT_1Meagan Falcon/Foghorn

Jacob Huffman, a second-year student in the Process Technology Program, alongside fellow student Ashley Hernandez, explains to the media how the pilot plant works and the benefits they will gain in the learning lab.

“The pilot plant has been a long-term goal so the college can provide hands-on learning to our students,” said Denise Rector, associate professor of process technology. “I’m very thankful for our industrial partners, the Type A Board, Corpus Christi City Council and Del Mar College’s leadership for their support of this project and can truly say we have a pilot plant that is second to none in Texas.”

Lenora Keas, DMC interim provost and vice president of instruction and student services, said the pilot plant will help get students ready for a career after college.

“This plant is extremely important because it is going to give students real-world experience when they complete the program here at Del Mar College,” Keas said. “The pilot plant is a learning lab that simulates what anyone would see in any of the Coastal Bend refineries. Instead of making petroleum, like the refinery plants do, this plant makes glycol.”

Ashley Hernandez, a student in the process technology program, is looking forward to training on the pilot plant.

“I don’t want to go into a job and not know what I am doing,” Hernandez said. “Not everyone gets a chance like this to have an actual hands on lab to help you gain the knowledge you need out there in the refineries. This lab will help me gain the skills I need when I get a job here at the local refineries and I can take this hands-on learning experience and show it to others who did not have the opportunity like I did.”

Del Mar foresees increasing awards by 900 percent, or 600 students, annually, within the next year after implementing pilot plant training. This increase includes diverse learning awards from high schools, college credit programs and corporate training and continuing education certificates.

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