By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2020 Issue
Microsoft Corp. will expand its operations in Irving, TX, further establishing the company’s Las Colinas site as a strategic regional hub in the area. As part of the expansion, Microsoft will create 575 new jobs and invest more than $31 million in capital. A Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant of nearly $5 million has been extended to Microsoft.
“[This] investment by Microsoft is further evidence of Texas’ rise as a global technology hub,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “Thanks to our world-class workforce and common-sense, free market economic model, companies like Microsoft are investing in the Lone Star State and creating high-paying jobs for hard-working Texans. I thank Microsoft for their continued investment and will continue to promote policies that expand these beneficial partnerships and bring more jobs to the Lone Star State.”
“Microsoft has been in Texas for more than two decades. We have a robust workforce here already and we are excited to continue growing that—expanding our talent base and opportunities in North Texas,” said Raamel Mitchell, Microsoft Las Colinas campus director. “We look forward to being here for our customers and helping them through their digital transformation journey from our Las Colinas campus.”
“Microsoft’s expansion of its workforce and investment into its corporate campus represents the type of project we’re actively recruiting to add to our already thriving business community,” said Beth Bowman, President & CEO of the Irving Economic Development Partnership. “The successful retention of this target industry demonstrates that Irving-Las Colinas is one of the world’s premier business destinations. We look forward to supporting Microsoft, its employees and future workforce as they integrate into our diverse community with attractive amenities and a high quality of life.”
TOMBALL TO OPEN ACADEMY OF ENERGY AND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
Tomball ISD is offering specialized energy and business programs through the district’s new Academy of Energy and International Business, housed at the corporate headquarters of a leading oil and gas company service provider, according to a recent report in the Houston Chronicle.
The partnership between Tomball ISD and BJ Services provides the academy’s students opportunities for real-world learning experience and on-site training with industry experts.
The three courses incoming ninth-graders will take at the BJ Services campus are an academy class, English I and Biology. While learning alongside business professionals in the fields of energy, oil and gas, students will be exposed to top business languages including English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. They will also have opportunities for advanced dual credit courses earning a minimum of 12 college credit hours through Lone Star College-Tomball.
Multiple industry certifications can be pursued though the academy. Academy students can continue participating in their extracurricular activities as they work to become college and career ready. Students who graduate from the academy may also have opportunities to work at BJ Services.
The four-year academy will offer courses for two programs of study—one focused on energy and the other on international business. BJ Service’s pre-existing facilities will serve as the learning environments in which students develop industry skills. Students will even have opportunities to use the BJ Services boardroom for presentations, said Tomball ISD Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora.
When BJ Services began operations out of their Tomball campus in early 2017, community leaders were invited to tour the facility. “This will be the first school of its type in the state of Texas—a very large state obviously, that’s exciting—and it’s only the second in the nation,” Salazar-Zamora told the Chronicle.
The kind of learning experience offered at the academy may be difficult to describe using terms common in the education field domestically, though “apprenticeship” probably comes the closest. It’s a term that BJ Services has also used to describe the academy.
The Tomball ISD Academy of Energy and International Business will be staffed by hand-picked educators and led by a Dean of Innovation Programs, a position for which Tomball ISD will soon be looking to hire.
Students who apply and are accepted will be bused by the district to spend part of their school day at BJ Services for academy classes, and part of their day in classes at their respective home campuses.
The school board, during its Dec. 10 meeting, voted unanimously to approve the Tomball ISD Academy of Energy and International Business, which is scheduled to open August 2020 at BJ Services. The company is based in Tomball at their facility on FM 2920 near Hufsmith-Kohrville Road.
The academy is different from other energy and business educational programs in the state because of its on-site component at Tomball-based BJ Services, she said.
“Our Academy of Energy and International Business will be the first of its kind in the state and only the second in the nation,” Salazar-Zamora said during the meeting.
The academy will provide rigorous job-embedded programs of study, according to the release, with students having the opportunity to prepare for careers in the oil and gas industry as well as the global market. Accepted students will take courses in the career pathway alongside their core academic classes. Students will stay assigned to their home high school, Tomball or Tomball Memorial, but have the option to earn at least 12 credit hours through Lone Star College-Tomball.
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