JJC, CITGO Partnership will Provide STEM Education for Young Students

Late last month, JJC employees Kristi Mulvey, Patty Osborne and Melissa Lachcik attended CITGO Petroleum Corporation’s 90th anniversary event, celebrating the college’s partnership with the long-standing local employer.


L-R: George Papoutsis, Manager of Process Technology, CITGO Lemont Refinery Jim Tancredi, Health, Safety, Security & Environmental Manager, CITGO Lemont Refinery Melissa Lachcik, JJC Continuing Ed. Development Coordinator Patricia Osborne, JJC Finance and Scholarship Coordinator Kristi Mulvey, JJC Executive Director, Resource Development Pete Colarelli, Citgo Government and Public Affairs Manager Jim Cristman, Citgo Vice President and General Manager Fernando Garay, Citgo Corporate Communications CITGO Public Affairs Manager, Media Relations

Through this partnership, JJC will be able to offer “S.T.E.M. Academy – Fueled by Citgo”, which will provide enrichment activities focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The STEM Academy will provide educational programming to 1,000 students, ages five to 18 and over 50 middle school and high school faculty in the district.

STEM-based learning will take place through:

  • Workshops that feature hands-on activities
  • Speaking engagements that includes staff from JJC and Citgo
  • STEM-specific competitions for high school students such as Robotics, CADD, and Welding
  • Career exploration fairs for high school and college students focused on STEM

A main component of STEM Academy will include Technology Camp for middle school students, which will introduce them to career pathways that are available at Citgo and show how STEM is important for these careers. Faculty and high school counselors will be able to gain valuable career information they can share with all students.

“Many times, we hear from counselors that they don’t really know what happens at a refinery and how math and science ties in to it,” said Coordinator of Continuing Education Melissa Lachcik. “By providing opportunities to tour the Citgo refinery, students will get a first-hand look.”

The goal of this year-long project is to ensure that students who participate in this program increase their awareness about STEM-related careers. The purpose of STEM Academy is to spark an interest and encourage students to pursue a STEM-related career through the use multiple avenues which include: education, hands-on enrichment activities, refinery visits to Citgo as well as interaction with members of the CITGO team. This project will also let students know that it’s not too early to get started in STEM-related education.

Additionally, as part of the partnership, CITGO will be funding a scholarship, administered through the college’s Resource Development office. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to students majoring in (PCIT) Process Control Instrumentation, (OET) Operations Engineering Technology, (IMT) Industrial Maintenance Technology, and EEAS Electrical/Electronic Automated Systems.  The scholarship will also provide financial students pursuing Process Operations Technology and the dual credit high school program Advanced Integrated Manufacturing.


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