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Students at BOCES urged to pursue careers in STEM

Posted 1 January 2016 at 12:00 am
Bill Owens of Praxair

Provided photo – Bill Owens, Praxair Inc.’s senior engineer consultant, met with students at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center in Medina.

Press Release, Orleans-Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Praxair Senior Engineer Consultant Bill Owens recently stopped in to the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center to talk to students about workplace safety and show how cryogenics will affect them in their chosen career field.

Mr. Owens, who has been at Praxair for 31 years, said that that his company, which is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, has a no-tolerance policy for employees who are lax with their safety. Anyone texting while working and/or driving a car will be automatically terminated from employment.

“We call it DWI, Driving While Intexticated,” he says. “If you are injured you can’t play a sport and it is the same idea with our workplace. Look at the statistics for text-related driving accidents. In 1.3 million crashes, 6,000 deaths can be directly linked to cellphone use. We use the acronym of BVSAFE which stands for Be Very Safe.”

Mr. Owen encouraged students to question what their teachers tell them.

“You have the most powerful computer in the world at your fingertips and that is your brain,” he said. “Challenge what you hear and do research to gain better understanding.”

He talked to the students about the advantages of going into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. “I guarantee you if you get a STEM education, you’ll have no problem getting a job.”

And then the cryogenics demonstration began. First he told the students about all the uses for the cryogenic process, which is a science domain where super cold materials, like liquid nitrogen and oxygen can change matter.

“It is used in the healthcare field, computers, food and beverages, special effects, aviation and rockets, gasoline, welding, metals, auto production, electronics and firearms,” Owens said.

He then gave a demonstration of how reactive oxygen is by mixing grease and pure oxygen together and hitting them with a spring loaded hammer. The explosion brought cheers and amazement to the audience. He also showed how the cold temperatures can drastically change the properties of certain materials.

“It was a fantastic demonstration,” says Science teacher Peter Jablonski. “He definitely encouraged students to look at the world critically and to make sure they understand the real truth of what they do before they do it. He was also very effective in discussing how important workplace safety is. The students loved it.”