While executives from major oil companies convened to discuss their trade this week, a potential new generation of energy workers spent the day on the floor of the Cajundome learning about the industry.
"It’s actually my second time. My dad brought me out here two years ago,” Matt Andrus, 16, a St. Thomas Moore senior said. Like his father, Andrus said he is looking to start a career in the energy sector.
"Definitely. Mechanical engineering mostly, possibly petroleum engineering. But I’m really looking at mechanical,” the teen said.
Andrus was one of about local S.T.E.M. 150 students brought to the expo this week by the Young Professionals of LAGCOE organization.
Young Professionals aims to expose students to many facets of the industry, YPL executive committee member Josh Credeur said.
"We want to give the youth of Acadiana, the juniors and seniors in high school, an opportunity to see what the oil field offers to them as a career,” Credeur said.
Students met with oil and gas accountants, welding companies, legal counsel, crane operators and many others.
"You name it,” he said. "We want them to see that it takes 1,000 different disciplines to make the oil field work. Our goal is to present them with a stable career opportunity to stay in Acadiana when they get out of college or out of high school.”
The downturn in the industry isn’t something that can be ignored, but Creduer that there are high hopes for a turnaround in short time. He said he entered the oil and gas business in the early 2000’s when there was a brief dip in the market.
"There was no competition, but it was still hard to find a job,” he said. "Then when the industry started picking up, there was a high demand.”
Some students will also receive scholarships through the program this year, Creduer said.
It was Teurlings Catholic junior Katie McKenzie’s first time touring LAGCOE, she said. The 17-year-old junior plans to study biochemistry. She said she isn’t sure about a career in the oil and gas, but was eager to learn more at the expo.
"I’ve learned that there are a lot of people here who know a lot of stuff and there’s really no questions left unanswered,” she said. "It’s pretty cool.”