Over 1,100 students across New Mexico and Texas recently completed the Independent Petroleum Association of America & Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (IPAA/PESA) Power Your Future program, which inspires students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). IPAA/PESA’s digital program supports STEM skills development and helps change misperceptions about the petroleum industry. At a recent IPAA/PESA volunteer event, we asked students how the program has impacted their thoughts on pursuing a future STEM career. See their answers below.

How did the program impact your thoughts on pursuing a STEM career?

When IPAA/PESA volunteers visited and talked about what they do, it really changed my thoughts. Before they came and spoke to us I thought oil was just a substance you put in your car. I also thought the workers just go drill a hole and get the oil, but they do way more than just drill holes and bring us oil. I really got to understand the technology and science that is involved.

Something else that inspired me was seeing woman going out there and doing these jobs. Seeing them really had me thinking of going into a STEM career. I was truly fascinated when they had me do a virtual reality simulation. I was shocked when I heard about all the math and science they have to use. I also had no idea how much they use technology in their jobs. Another thing that shocked me was them telling us about all the different jobs that are in the petroleum industry. When getting to know the volunteers, I found out interesting information that I would have never thought about, like plastic having petroleum in it. They explained to me that you need to know what chemicals you are working with and how to use and handle them. Overall, the IPAA/PESA Power Your Future program really impacted me in a positive way.  – Alyson, Houston Middle School: Hobbs, NM

This program has allowed me to put STEM and everyday things that involve it into a whole new light. I became so much more interested in STEM after completing the IPAA/PESA Power Your Future program. I am now taking a new perspective on what my career may involve now that my eyes have been opened on the amazing world of STEM. I am now thinking about going to college to become an engineer/entrepreneur.

After completing “Perfect Playlist” module I discovered a new respect and interest for the programming behind apps like Spotify and Pandora. Music is one of my favorite types of expression. So the fact that this amazing program connects something I listen to everyday and love to something I need to learn about, makes me ten times more interested. Now that I have completed these modules, I look at other things differently as well. I never realized just how important STEM is to everyday tasks and jobs. STEM is extremely important to overall society. It is how we can understand how things work, how to problem solve, and how to advance in life. This program allows kids in schools just like me to learn what really goes on behind apps we love and in a fun way! Thank you for changing my way of thinking for the long future ahead! – Macy, Sidney Gutierrez Middle School: Roswell, NM

What are your future goals and how has the program helped prepare you to achieve these goals?

Within the IPAA/PESA Power Your Future Program, I completed The Perfect Playlist and Medical Machines modules. The Perfect Playlist revealed to me how companies use recommendation algorithms to predict what songs people prefer. I also learned about collaborative filtering which finds people like you to determine your possible future choices. Additionally, I learned about content filtering that makes predictions about songs you might like based on your previous choices.

The Medical Machine module taught me how a doctor uses a process of elimination to determine what type of treatment a patient needs based on their symptoms. The program also showed me what kind of machines doctor’s use to help treat patients. Both the Perfect Playlist and the Medical Machines modules improved my STEM thinking by showing me real world science applications that require math and engineering skills. This program has impacted my STEM thinking by showing me how to look at problems from a different point a view. I also learned that there are countless careers that involve STEM and these fields pay very well. STEM is important because it is the foundation upon which almost everything is built in our modern world. When we Google a subject, or start a car, or flip a light switch, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math helped make it happen. From the next song that is selected on my Spotify playlist to an examination of a patient by a doctor, STEM is present. Without STEM we would not have sent a man to the moon or be typing words on a computer. While people dream of flying cars and exploring Mars, STEM helps make those dreams come true.  – Johnathan, Sidney Gutierrez Middle School: Roswell, NM