Bechtel donates $30K worth of state-of-the-art tools to Brownsville school district programs

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Juniors Javier Pedraza, Alexis Hernandez, Ismael Martinez, Kevin Vasquez, from Pace and Rivera early college high schools, said they’re excited about the pipe fitter certification program that will be offered through the Brownsville ISD Career and Technical Education Department. (Gary Long | The Brownsville Herald)

The Bechtel Corporation began rolling out a partnership with the Brownsville Independent School District on Tuesday by donating $30,000 in state-of-the-art hand, technical and construction tools to BISD’s Career and Technical Education and Adult Continuing Education programs.

The partnership marks the first step in creating a pipeline of job-ready workers as Bechtel begins construction of the NextDecade Rio Grande LNG export facility at the port of Brownsville, Benita Villarreal, BISD CTE director, said.

The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation is facilitating the partnership by serving as a bridge between Bechtel, NextDecade and BISD, officials said at a reveal presentation Tuesday morning at the Brownsville ISD CTE Center.

“We’re working with Workforce Cameron, we’re working with Region One because we want to expand. They’re bringing the industry but we want to expand the educational opportunities,” Villarreal said.

She said BISD is looking at immediate and long-term workforce plans for the facility to be able to supply a pipeline of workers.

“So right now is the first stage, the construction technology, making sure we have enough kids so we can start building the facilities. But then we’re going to start getting the engineers, the medical staff. All that comes after, once the facilities are in place. It’s a long-term project,” she said.

Juniors Javier Pedraza, Alexis Hernandez, Ismael Martinez, Kevin Vasquez, from Pace and Rivera early college high schools, attended the presentation.

They said they hope to obtain pipe fitter certifications by the end of their senior year, find a job and go to work.

Bechtel has committed to hiring 35% of their workforce locally. So they have come to us to find a pipeline of students that will be ready,” Villarreal said.

She said students from all of BISD’s high schools are coming to the CTE center to get welding certifications, and then pipe fitter certifications next year.

“We are going into a partnership with Texas Southmost College. We’re going to be busing kids over there and working together to provide the pipeline,” she said.