NCTC students go beyond petroleum

Elizabeth F. Dieter | Jan 4, 2017

What is 5S? That’s a question that students in the Petroleum Technology program at North Central Texas College answered recently as they redesigned the tool cage in the Petroleum Technology lab. 

“A couple of our instructors who have advanced training in some process-improvement techniques common in industry shared their knowledge in the classroom this semester,” said Malea Clarke, head of the Petroleum Technology program at North Central Texas College. 

“Instructor Steve Barnes introduced students to Lean Six Sigma, and Instructor Mike Calhoun led students in a 5S project improving the effectiveness of our tool storage.  Both of these techniques are used by many companies to improve their processes, so it benefits our students to learn some of the basics of these marketable skills.”  Lean Six Sigma utilizes teams to improve performance by systematically eliminating waste in a process.  5S establishes a standard of organization to improve speed, quality and safety in a process. 

“The students enjoyed working on a project that combined shop skills with modern process improvement techniques“, said Calhoun.  The class re-organized the tool cage and related shelving and materials in the Bowie petroleum facility. “I think the students can take pride in the improvements they made and will encourage their classmates to sustain the work”, said Calhoun who also included information on decision making and career planning in his course, Introduction to the Petroleum Industry.

NCTC’s Petroleum Technology Program offers both a Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science Degree.  The coursework focuses on the basics of the petroleum industry, involves about 50% hands-on learning activities, and emphasizes safety and teamwork. 

The next semester starts Tuesday, January 17, 2017 and registration is open now.  The program still has room for more students.  “We saw a drop in enrollment during the past few years as the petroleum industry experienced a slump due to an excess supply of oil.  But with recent agreements among key oil producing nations to curb production, there are signs that the slump is ending.  And we’ve seen an increase in interest from prospective students the past few months,” said Clarke.

For more information, visit the college website at or call 940-872-4002.  For information about applying, registering, or financial aid, ask for those departments.  For more information about the Petroleum Technology program, ask for Malea Clarke.