By CHARLES DIAZ, Ranger Reporter:
Every year women from all over the Texas Panhandle gather at Amarillo College’s East Campus to participate in a life-changing seminar. “Women in Industry” is a free event that introduces women to profitable technical industries such as fire protection, automotive technology, auto collision, aviation manufacturing, welding, machining and industrial technology. This year, the event was held from 9 a.m. until nearly 3 p.m Friday, March 31. About 22 women attended.
The participants were divided into small groups and engaged in intensive career exploration through hands-on seminars in and around the transportation career center and the manufacturing education center. Each area had hands-on activities for all participants to do, if they chose to.
“East Campus has been holding this event for over seven years now,” said Claudia Arnold, senior advising associate and the event organizer. According to Arnold, this event gives the community and surrounding areas an upfront and personal hands-on experience in a technical field of study to show women that they too can do a technical career and be very successful on the academic level and in the workforce as well.
“The purpose for holding the event is to get the word out that Amarillo College has a technical education division and to bring more women into the programs of study. The industry is looking for hardworking women and we can provide them with the best education to get that position,” Arnold said. “We tend to target senior high school girls and women that may be looking for a career change, continue their education, or just looking to work in the industrial field.”
All the participants received an upfront view of what to expect from the technical education courses and areas of study. It gave them an opportunity to decide if this is a field they truly desire to work in.
Gabriela Torres, an AC pre-nursing graduate, has taken advantage of the offer. She is returning to AC to study machining. “This is my first time attending. I’m looking for a career change. I didn’t want to do an office job. I like hands-on stuff, that’s what drew me to these types of careers.”
After lunch the attendees were able to participate in a panel discussion with women in industry, featuring representatives of local AC industry partners like ASARCO, Midwest Machine, Aardvark Automotive, Premier Truck Group and Phillips 66.
“It influenced my decision to go into machining,” said Audrianna Henson, a panel member and a graduate in machining. This was her second time attending the seminar. “It’s how I got into my career. It opens the doors to what girls can do. I would recommend this program to other girls.”
“There are more people here today then there were when I came before,” said Summer Neece, a welder and a graduate who answered questions as a panel member. She attended the event two years before as a pupil coming to learn, but this year she had come to help.
Event organizers said that industrial and technical careers offer many incentives. A two-year technical degree or certificate in these fields leads to higher paying jobs and faster career advancement than nontechnical two-year degrees. Historically male dominated, these fields welcome women.
“Amarillo College supports and empowers women to explore and pursue these nontraditional technical degrees and career paths,” said Arnold, noting that AC will continue to host these events as long as there are women willing to come and learn.
“I would recommend this event. It was very informational and it can help you figure out what program you’re interested in,” said Torres.