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CITGO refinery hosts Nautilus Exploration Program STEM Academy

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A group of 30 local educators participated in the inaugural Nautilus Exploration Program CITGO STEM Academy, held on 22 - 23 June at the CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery. The continuing education programme for area educators is part of the CITGO Caring for Our Coast initiative, which is dedicated to natural habitat and coastal restoration along the Gulf Coast region.

The Academy, offered free of charge, served as an opportunity for local educators to work with the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) and local science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals to engage in STEM related educational activities and role modelling of professional deep sea exploration that can be incorporated in their classrooms. The programme is an immersive, activity filled, professional development workshop that also utilised the technology of telepresence, allowing programme participants to join OET's Exploration Vessel Nautilus and its remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) live on the seafloor.

Participating educators received OET's newly developed STEM Learning Modules, an educational resource designed to match the excitement of live exploration with inquiry based lessons and classroom activities. In addition, the programme gave participants a behind the scenes look at STEM facilities in Corpus Christi such as the CITGO refinery and Texas A&M Corpus Christi campus engineering labs as well as opportunities to network with STEM professionals and other educators and gave them the chance to learn about the education programmes available aboard the Nautilus for professionals and students.

"As an advocate of STEM education and proud member of this community for the last 80 years, CITGO is honoured to host the Nautilus Exploration Program CITGO STEM Academy in Corpus Christi. These educators have a passion for STEM education and we appreciate their commitment to shaping young minds and opening doors for these students to pursue careers in disciplines so important to our industry," said Doyle Dommert, CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery Vice President and General Manager.

CITGO first partnered with OET in 2014 at the launch of the Caring for our Coast initiative, a series of programmes designed to extend the company's ongoing commitment to environmental protection and restoration leading up to the 10th anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September of 2015. The storms devastated areas in the Gulf Coast, where CITGO employees and refineries are largely based. After the storms, CITGO provided funding and fuel to non-governmental organisations and first responders and assisted in evacuating citizens out of harm's way. The operations at the CITGO Lake Charles refinery were brought back online in record time so that fuel and other desperately needed products could be provided to the region. This level of effort continues today, as Caring for Our Coast supports coastal restoration projects in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana and Texas; STEM education programmes; and environmental research.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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