HCC degree helps university grad take career to ‘next level’

Nov 29, 2018

 Elijah Barnes_800

Elijah Barnes, an employee in the oil and gas industry, was looking for an opportunity to take his career to the next level. Although he completed a bachelor’s degree from a local university and had industry experience as a field operator as well as offshore, he desired to be a process operator and knew that more training was required.

Upon the recommendation of a friend in the industry, Barnes looked into the process technology program at Houston Community College Northeast and found it to be a good fit for his interests. He enrolled in the summer 2016 and began his journey toward advancing his career.

Barnes took a short break because of his full-time work schedule, but soon returned to complete his associate of applied science degree in process technology in May of 2018. He was impressed with his experience at the college, especially the willingness of the instructors to work with students to achieve their goals. “It has been a great experience for me at HCC. I loved it. The teachers are great. They really do help you get ready for the industry and give you insight of what you need to do and how to apply yourself to be a process operator,” Barnes said.

Barnes is now employed as a process chemical operator at ExxonMobil Corporation at the Beaumont plant where he is responsible for troubleshooting, collecting samples, maintenance work for turnarounds and ensuring safety for contractors and coworkers. He sees himself continuing with the company long term and continuing to pursue additional opportunities. Barnes now gives back to the college and shares his experiences with current HCC students. He hopes that his words will encourage them to overcome challenges and pursue their career pathways.

The process technology program educates and trains technicians who control and monitor various industrial and plant processes. Areas of employment include: petrochemicals and refining, food and beverage processing, pharmaceuticals and biomanufacturing, paper and pulp, oil and gas exploration, energy and power generation, water and waste water treatment, chemical and agricultural manufacturing, environmental safety, and brewing and distilling process industries. For more information, call 713.718.8300 or visit

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