30 days to celebrate
In Argentina, November is a special month for all those with technical professions. Find out about all of Tecpetrol's initiatives to support technical education in the provinces where it operates.
November 15 is a flagship day in Argentina, the date celebrating the creation of the National Technical Education Council (CONET). However, in fact, its relevance in a country of creators and entrepreneurs is so great that an entire month is dedicated to its commemoration.
For Tecpetrol, it’s a date to be circled on its calendar, one when several special activities take place. According to Pablo Martellotta, Community Relations Corporate Manager, “Technical Gene is the best starting point, as it’s a cross sectoral program, present in the four provinces where we operate: we’re working with eight schools in Neuquén and Río Negro, seven in Salta and five in Comodoro Rivadavia, in the province of Chubut.”
Technical Gene seeks to strengthen education specifically to prepare students to tackle the technical demands of today’s industries. Tecpetrol provides support to the community's technical schools by repairing and building infrastructure, providing training and technological equipment, and offering top-tier professional internships in close collaboration with the productive sector.
After a lot of work with the provincial institutions in Neuquén in close collaboration with the company’s supplier network, the first Professional Internships were launched this year. “The first internships were hosted by the Nanotech company for sixth-year students from Provincial Technical Education School (EPET) 3. We began with four interns and are now working to scale the initiative up next year to include six or seven suppliers and incorporate more students as well as Technical School EPET 20. The specialties will be geared to different work profiles according to the contractor company and the specialty chosen by the future graduates, which may be in the areas of software, electronics, mechanics or quality control,” explains Pablo.
The internships join a rich roster of initiatives, such as the fifth edition of the traditional Tecnoaventura event for students from local technical schools which this time round attracted a record number of participants. Or the Robotics Training courses based on the Arduino programming language, and the Technical Skills Test, which benchmarks the standard reached by students in the context of industry requirements, in addition to a range of technical talks by specialists given at the EPET 3.
Silvina López, the external program coordinator of the program, adds that, “we held a Math workshop in Neuquén led by Dr. Daniela Reyes Gasperini, who is in charge of developing the Math Path of the Techint group, and we trained eighteen teachers from four provinces on how to teach this subject using new techniques and materials.”
In Rincón de los Sauces and Añelo, they also stepped up to the plate: at the Technical School EPET 24 in Rincón, the program provided training in Arduino, and kits were delivered: the students are currently building a greenhouse. Meanwhile, a technology classroom was built at Technical School EPET 16, and at Technical School EPET 23, in the heart of Vaca Muerta, Arduino training and robotics kits were also provided.
Next stop Aguaragüe: under strong rays of the northern Argentine sun, Technical Gene did its bit “to contribute to transforming quality technical education and training high-level technicians, prepared to tackle the challenges of Industry 4.0, and contribute to equal opportunities and progress in our communities,” explained Luciana Fernández, CORE Analyst in Salta. “We sponsored the Robotics Olympics, where students from robotics clubs joined other young people from our communities throughout the region. We’ve also provided in-person training courses at the facilities of our supplier HyS at Technical Schools EET 3135 and 3113. And we’ve delivered fiberboards for the School of Technical Education (EET) 3109,” she says, ticking off the boxes. Other actions include robotics training courses for intermediate level students and their teachers at Technical Schools EET 3120 and 3113: 16 in-person classes added to over 150 hours of virtual classes provided by the Robotics laboratory from the national technological university.
As for infrastructure, Tecpetrol donated steel tubing and pipes to Technical School 3136 to carry out building repairs, and designed the layout of the multimedia classroom for the Technical School 3113, providing this space with a greater sense of purpose. Today, the multimedia classroom is used for all kinds of different activities by some five hundred students and one hundred teachers. The company also masterminded the work to fully renovate the training spaces in the electronics workshops.
In Comodoro Rivadavia, where Technical Gene is present in five provincial technical education schools, the After School program has been underway for several years at primary level, providing five schools with training in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts. Members of the teaching staff participate annually in a special training course organized by the program and this also ensures that all the institutions taking part receive support in the form of inputs necessary to develop the activities.
The Roberto Rocca Scholarships are another pillar of Tecpetrol's educational framework and thus worthy of mention. Nicolás Tozzi, who is the Education & Culture Programs Manager of the Techint Group, discusses their relevance to transformation and upward social mobility. “These scholarships are awarded to high-school, university and PhD students, young people seeking to break through the knowledge barrier in issues that have a strategic bearing on the development of industry and humanity as a whole.” One example is Cecilia Laskowski, a native of Comodoro Rivadavia, who is studying for her doctorate at the Polytechnic University of Madrid with a Roberto Rocca Scholarship. Thanks to her stellar academic performance and sheer hard work, she was also the recipient of a scholarship at high school as well as at university, and is keen to give back to society. “When I finish my doctorate, I intend to work on topics related to my thesis, which centers on how to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions to help combat climate change.”
We close with Pablo's conclusions: “We support our participating institutions on a daily basis with our technical education programs so that in the medium term, high-school graduates can return and enter the workforce in their own communities. By bringing together the elements of each program, we can strengthen and grow the bond between the community and the company. We cannot afford to take divergent paths on our mission to strengthen quality technical education.”