From book smart to lab smart

Citizenship

College students across the country are completing their programs and entering the workforce ready to tackle science’s greatest challenges – but first, they put on safety goggles.

Students are taught the technical and analytical skills needed to flourish in their fields. And among those skills, safety should always come first. Since employees are at the greatest risk of being injured during their first year on the job, safety training at the university level is critical.

That’s why, in 2013, ExxonMobil launched the Partners in Academic Laboratory Safety (PALS) program at its Technology and Engineering Complex in Baytown, Texas. ExxonMobil partners with chemical engineering and chemistry departments at six universities to enhance lab safety skills among aspiring researchers and bridge the gap between academic and industry labs.

Texas A&M, the University of Texas, the University of Houston, the University of Florida, Georgia Tech and Washington University in St. Louis participate in PALS. During the annual workshop, students tour labs and learn about everything from chemical handling and engineering controls to proper lab attire. The partnership is ongoing, with ExxonMobil employees visiting campuses throughout the year to meet with safety committees and assist with peer-to-peer auditing. The PALS program recently expanded to ExxonMobil’s Technology Center in Shanghai, China.

“It’s exciting – I can feel our growing safety culture affect people’s behavior not just in our lab, but throughout our building,” says JiaXing Zhu, an inorganic chemistry major from Fudan University. “Through the PALS program and ExxonMobil, we’re learning to pay attention to every detail and are gaining new skills in the lab.”

A crucial complement to textbook safety training, PALS makes its impact by bringing together students, staff, faculty and ExxonMobil employees to create lasting relationships … with safety.

Tags:   safetySTEMuniversity partnerships
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