Ashland Alliance

Marathon’s partnership with ACTC trains future technicians

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. — ​In the 1990s, Ashland Community and Technical College, in conjunction with Marathon Petroleum Corporation, began an applied process technologies program as a way to save training time for newly hired operations technicians. Since the program began, there have been more than 1,500 graduates to move on to employment with area manufacturers, including MPC’s Catlettsburg refinery.

Currently ACTC’s program is one of only three in the country. Dr. Kay Adkins, president and CEO of ACTC, and Brad Levi, refining general manager of MPC’s Catlettsburg refinery, commemorated their partnership recently by celebrating Manufacturing Month in October.

Adkins said the partnership is an example of how ACTC can meet the specialized needs of specific industry. “It’s a wonderful example of how community colleges work with their business partners to produce qualified employees,” she said.

Levi lauded the partnership as well. “MPC’s Catlettsburg refinery plays an integral role in the success of ACTC when it comes to employment opportunities in the Tri-State,” Levi said. “Through the years we have hired numerous graduates of the Applied Process Technologies program. We have supplied equipment to the APT program and expert assistance to the instructors by way of refinery supervisors.”

When students graduate from the APT program, they are qualified to gain employment in any chemical, refining and manufacturing industry. Thanks to MPC’s partnership, many graduates are able to find high-wage jobs close to home. Some students also get the opportunity to intern at the refinery to gain hands-on experience, said Greg Jackson, human resources manager at MPC’s Catlettsburg refinery. MPC’s supervisors and managers also serve on the review boards for students preparing to graduate.

“We currently run an intern program where we interview and select a few current students who are in their last semester of school, or former students within a year of graduation, to intern at the refinery for 300 hours,” Jackson said. “This not only provides refinery supervision with first-hand knowledge of a student’s ability to perform refinery operations work, it also provides the student with an idea of what would be expected of them shall they be selected to work here full-time in the future. Some students may decide this type of work is not for them.”

Throughout the APT program, students will be able to demonstrate understanding of process fluids (liquids and gases) and their behavior in a chemical/refining/manufacturing environment; identify fundamental components of chemical formulas, water chemistry and treatment; identify and operate stationary equipment (pumps, motors, compressors, etc.) and perform troubleshooting during off-normal operations; demonstrate knowledge and interaction of automated controls and operations of various control systems used in process operations; identify components of the distillation process and associated equipment; identify components of steam production and perform boiler operations with a functional steam lab; and other concepts.

There are also opportunities for minority and female students interested in the APT program. The Marathon Petroleum Kevin McClain Memorial Scholarship is awarded to full-time students enrolled in the APT program with a minimum GPA of 2.0. “We offer four scholarships per semester with preference to minority or female students who are entering into, or are in, the APT program,” Jackson said. “These scholarships cover a significant portion of a student’s tuition.” 

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