By Katherine Scott, associate editor
Twenty-two Houston-area high school students spent the day learning about careers in the oil and gas industry at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) event on 5 August hosted by Baker Hughes at its drill bits facility in The Woodlands. The event, sponsored by the North America Women’s Resource Group and Baker Hughes Diversity and Inclusion, also allowed students the opportunity to learn more about the manufacturing of drill bits via a tour of Baker Hughes’ drilling lab, bit plant and diamond plant.
Bobby Grimes, program manager for the company’s drill bit systems product line, highlighted career opportunities within the industry for the youths. “We’re trying to help you guys get excited about the possibility of pursuing a technology degree… It’s up to you to take the world to the next level.”
To help the students understand the importance of oil and gas, Mr Grimes explained that everyday products such as clothing, plastic and makeup are all oil based. “We couldn’t get away from oil if we wanted to. Even if we find a great replacement for transportation energy, we need oil; it’s everywhere.”
He further explained how oil and gas careers offer the chance to make a difference when it comes to responsible energy development. “The industry’s social and environmental aspects are important matters, so you have to find the right balance. If you become engineers, you’ll be the ones to help work out these types of issues for mankind going forward.”
Mr Grimes, himself a 34-year veteran of Baker Hughes, also noted the significant shortage of talented workers in the industry and why that means great jobs are for the taking. “A lot of experienced people are retiring in the next five to 10 years, so there’s an incredible opportunity for people early in their careers to work hard and get promotions at a rate of two to five years.”
Likewise, oil and gas career salaries are extremely competitive. “The median pay for the oil and gas industry engineers is almost $131,000, and it goes up about 3% a year,” Mr Grimes said. He added that mechanical engineers currently have a starting salary of $70,000-plus a year, while petroleum engineers are earning about $100,000 a year due to high demand.
The industry isn’t just for engineers either, and Mr Grimes noted that this is a multidisciplinary industry, with positions available for chemists, educators, geoscientists and information technology personnel. “It’s having the technical background that really opens a lot of doors, whatever discipline you end up pursing.”