Students in Texas State Technical College’s process operations technology program are using a new fractional distillation column in classes this semester.
The equipment separates chemicals based on boiling point. It is made of glass so that students can view the distillation process.
“Products come off the column at different points and are captured for resale or further processing,” said Nicholas Cram, an instructor in TSTC’s process operations technology program. “This is the exact same type of column that you will see in refineries. The difference is the size.”
Some of the program’s classes focus on applied physics, process instrumentation, process technology and the petroleum industry.
“The addition will greatly enhance students’ hands-on knowledge and experience while in the training program,” said Barton Day, provost of TSTC in Marshall. “Ultimately these added skills increase a student’s ability to add to an employer’s bottom line on day one, and that’s what we aim for every day.”
Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers can make a yearly median salary of more than $81,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website. The state will have a need for more than 11,000 workers by 2028, according to the federal agency.
TSTC offers an associate of applied science degree in process operations technology at its Marshall campus. Program graduates can pursue jobs in the electrical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and refining fields.