GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College’s new Assistant Professor of Process Operations Technology Linda LaCoe brings both expertise and first-hand experience to the program.
Before recently joining L&C, LaCoe taught at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and was nominated for the 2014 TSTC Faculty Member of the Year.
“The process technology industry is in great need of operators and predicts a future need to replace approximately 35 percent of their workforce in the next five to 10 years,” LaCoe said. “I am focused on sharing my experience and knowledge in the process industry with my students to help them gain the education they need to secure employment.”
LaCoe earned her U.S. Department of Labor Certificate of Completion after finishing her apprenticeship at Eastman University in Longview, Texas. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
L&C’s Process Operations Technology program was developed in collaboration with Phillips66 in Wood River, and in consultation with the North American Process Technology Alliance (NAPTA) and the Sigma Aldrich partnership, which resulted in a professional and focused plan of study. Completion of the program will provide a high probability of placement as a process operations technician within the process industry.
Process technicians learn how to operate furnaces, distillation columns, reboilers, heat exchangers, steam systems and cooling-water systems, all the essential elements of all process industries.
“Working in the process industry is a fulfilling career but you have to work outside in all types of conditions, and sometimes it can be very labor intensive,” LaCoe said. “Students need to possess interpersonal skills, communication skills and have a strong work ethic.”
L&C’s Process Operations Technology program features hands-on training equipment, and soon, students will begin utilizing and running a micro-refinery at the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) in Edwardsville. This opportunity will provide students the best simulation of process controls they can access before entering the workforce.
“There are great employment demands for PTEC students both regionally and nationally,” Program Coordinator Alan Foster said. “Our students are highly recruited, and the average graduate can expect to earn an income ranging from $50,000-$80,000 annually immediately upon completing this two-year degree program.”
LaCoe said students should be prepared to work hard while earning their degree. She finds it very rewarding when she sees students excited about using the knowledge they learned to pass employment tests and gain employment in the process industry field.
“One of my proudest moments as an educator so far was when a student, who previously had issues with me, came up to me at graduation and thanked me for not giving in to her demands and helping her get an excellent job,” LaCoe said.