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CCBC students surprised, starstruck by Shell CEO visit

CENTER TWP. — About 15 students enrolled in the Community College of Beaver County’s process technology program on Monday got the surprise of a lifetime when their class was crashed by Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

The chief executive officer, accompanied by most of Shell’s board of directors, came to Beaver County to tour the company’s cracker plant site in Potter Township and to meet with local and state representatives to hear their thoughts and experiences about the project.

After that portion of the trip wrapped up, Shell officials traveled to CCBC to meet with students and officials there.

John Goberish, the dean of workforce development and continuing education for CCBC, said about 15 students were listening to a lecture in a process technology class and had no idea that one of the most powerful CEOs in the world was about to make a surprise visit.

“It was incredible to see the students’ faces when they got the chance to interact with the CEO and the board of directors,” he said. “That was a wonderful thing to experience. We were all starstruck. I’m not sure how we’re going to top that.”

During the classroom visit, Goberish said the Shell executives were shown a new piece of equipment that students use in the process technology program.

That piece of equipment, along with another expected to arrive later this year, cost more than $90,000. The community college paid for those pieces of equipment with a $150,000 grant Shell gave in December.

Goberish said the Shell executives were on campus for about an hour. After visiting with students, the executives viewed a video presentation about the process technology program, which provides training for employment in industrial and manufacturing plants such as Shell’s.

Goberish said the visit by the Shell contingent reminded him of a trip he and other CCBC officials took to Texas more than four years ago, a trip designed to gather information about how CCBC should craft its process technology program.

At the time, Goberish got to see how heavily involved Shell was with community colleges in Texas, and he couldn’t help but think Tuesday how that support has become all-encompassing at CCBC, too.

“I can’t say it was a typical day,” Goberish said with a laugh. “We’re in a different league now.”

The Shell cracker plant is expected to create about 600 full-time jobs once it is online, and Goberish said he expects about 250 of those to be process technology jobs.

That means the Shell executives in attendance Monday not only got a chance to see the fruit of their $150,000 donation, but also the chance to view potential future employees.

CCBC President Chris Reber on Tuesday said the community college is “honored” to have an ongoing partnership with Shell, which has been a “great experience” for both parties.

“We’ve developed a relationship of trust and mutual respect,” Reber said. “We’ve been working with them for four years and every step of the way, it’s been very rewarding for the college.”


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