When her 3-year-old son Myles brought a tool belt to his mother’s day out program show-and-tell, Marquelle Chapman knew this was a sign.
“Kids brought blankets, teddy bears, toys, and Myles took a tool belt and electrical outlets. He was under the table pulling wires and showing the kids how to install them,” she said. “That was a sign of the direction he was going.”
Supporting his proclivity for science, she found STEM-related activities to keep him engaged. In summer 2013, one such opportunity would prove golden.
Energy Venture summer camp
An online search led Marquelle Chapman to San Jacinto College’s Energy Venture summer camp.
“We did science projects, team-building activities, and small competitions with rewards,” Myles Chapman said. “I remember the San Jac professors being so energetic.”
A field trip to LyondellBasell during the camp became his defining moment. It “unlocked a whole new world” seeing a chemical processing plant for the first time. He left amazed at the facility’s size and sounds.
“I’d never seen anything like this before, aside from driving by,” he said. “It was very loud, had a lot of different equipment, and a lot to potentially get your hands on.”
Air Products was one of several camp sponsors.
“I remember decorating my Air Products hard hat,” Myles Chapman said. “I later learned that decorating hard hats is an industry thing, something even the senior plant engineers and operators do.”
Since Energy Venture was a one-time opportunity, Marquelle Chapman soon realized “no other schools in this area had anything like it.” She found the next best opportunity in Indiana, where her son attended a two-week camp at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in a minority youth engineering program.
Opportunities keep knocking
Later, Myles Chapman majored in engineering at Purdue, and the Energy Venture camp experience remained relevant.
“Air Products was on campus my freshman year interviewing for their co-op positions,” he said. “I mentioned I was an Air Products scholar at Energy Venture camp. It was a great conversation starter and got the ball rolling.”
He was offered a paid co-op, something Marquelle Chapman deemed “meant to be” as it was uncommon for a freshman, and it helped ease the financial hardship of out-of-state tuition.
“The paid co-op was a blessing,” Myles Chapman said. “As I returned for subsequent co-op sessions and got raises, it was always enough to pay for the next semester of school.”
Camp experience comes full circle
Myles Chapman will graduate in August 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. His five-year plan included valuable co-ops and internships with Air Products and LyondellBasell, giving him almost two years of work experience — and a full-time job back in Houston — before he walks across the stage.
“At the end of my last co-op term, I was given the full-time job offer,” he said. “I’m going to be working for LyondellBasell as a polymers process engineer, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same chemical unit that I first visited in the camp,” he said.
The Energy Venture camp experience inspired yet another career.
“Without realizing it, Myles helped me get the job I have at San Jac,” Marquelle Chapman said. “I shared Myles’ story in my interview. I explained how this program worked out for my son and that I’ve spread the positive feedback to others. So, Myles’ experience ricocheted back to me.”
She serves as the apprenticeship training project coordinator for continuing and professional development at the Central Campus.
Marquelle Chapman is proud her son will return home a degreed, employed professional. He looks forward to being near his family, joining the LyondellBasell team, and once again enjoying the delicious diversity of Houston cuisine.