1. Home
  2. News and insights
  3. Featured articles
  4. At bp’s Whiting refinery, Northwest Indiana students dream big

At bp’s Whiting refinery, Northwest Indiana students dream big

Release date:
30 May 2024

In May, nearly 40 students visited the refinery for a day to celebrate careers in science, tech, and engineering.

Five students stand on top of a Whiting Refinery fire truck

Denise Huerta is a student at East Chicago Central in Northwest Indiana, and she dreams of one day becoming a pilot. Although the freshman is several years from turning a dream into reality, Huerta has already started to research and take part in opportunities that will help her reach the sky, including taking part in the recent Girls STEM Day at bp's Whiting Refinery.

 

“I wanted to see what it’s all about,” Huerta said, adding, “It was exciting to know that it was a women's thing, especially when women do not get as much credit in the STEM field.” 

 

bp's Whiting Refinery hosted its annual Girls in STEM Day event in May, as part of the refinery's ongoing commitment to local schools and the communities in which its nearly 2,000 employees live and work.

Students ride on bus at the bp Whiting refinery
Huerta joined nearly 40 girls from Hammond, East Chicago, and the city of Whiting itself, at the STEM Day, which gave the girls a chance to visit the refinery and participate in a variety of fun activities to help explore future career paths. The students were greeted by refinery staff, toured the facility, learned about potential career paths from inspiring women leaders, visited the state-of-the-art fire station, and explored hands-on training equipment, including a virtual reality demonstration.
Profile picture of Donnie Brown, vice president of refining and manager of Whiting Refinery
“We hope that the experience encourages participants to explore refinery careers and be part of the next generation of leaders at the Whiting Refinery.” Donnie Brown, vice president of refining and manager of Whiting Refinery

The Women's International Network (WIN), a Business Resource Group, organized the Girls in STEM Day at Whiting Refinery in 2018. The group works to provide a community in the refinery that works on issues impacting women. As part of their work, they want to help local young women learn more about the wide variety of STEM careers that can be pursued at the refinery.

 

“The girls have the opportunity to explore the fields in STEM right here in their community,” said Kim Dray, co-lead of the women's business group at the refinery. “We are honored to welcome these future leaders to Whiting Refinery and give them the hands-on experience and help them see the amazing career possibilities that are available in their backyard.”

Students listen to Donnie Brown speak at the bp Whiting refinery

The Whiting refinery is the largest in the Midwest, and the bp’s largest in the world. The refinery produces engine fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, along with asphalt used to pave roads across the US. Indiana is a vivid example of how bp is investing in America. Nearly half of bp’s global investment in 2023 – more than $8 billion – was spent in the US. Every major bp business is active in the US, and more than one-third of the company’s global workforce – about 30,000 people – is based here.

 

“Girls in STEM Day is a unique opportunity for local students to visit the refinery to learn more about STEM careers and manufacturing, "said Donnie Brown, bp’s vice president of refining and manager of Whiting Refinery. “As part of the refinery’s efforts to hire more women in STEM disciplines, this event provides insight into some of the exciting career paths available at bp. We hope that the experience encourages participants to explore refinery careers and be part of the next generation of leaders at the Whiting Refinery.”

 

Huerta said the Girls STEM Day allowed her to meet the diverse group of women professionals who motivated her to one day soar the skies. “I like the fact that we got to talk to very different women and to see how they got here,” Huerta said.