For Caleb Mauer and Velvet Hill classes at College of the Mainland have paid off before graduation.

The two students were hired as millwright apprentices at INEOS Battleground, which will pay them $22 per hour to work while continuing their education at COM and reimburse their class fees.

“When (INEOS) told me you’ll be making six figures by the time you’re 21, they sold me,” said Mauer, of League City. “I know that I wouldn’t have gotten hired (without COM classes).”

Now with a full-time job, the two will take classes at night.

“Getting to know the machines is cool. All those little parts make this machine that makes things,” said Mauer.  

INEOS Olefins and Polymers USA creates plastics, and Hill and Mauer assist in repairing machines.

“We’re doing repair on pumps and small turbines,” said Hill. “I’ve always liked figuring out how they work and putting them back together. I like not being in an office.”

Their training in the classroom and on machines in the lab at COM prepared them to troubleshoot on the job.

“You have new problems everyday. If there’s a problem with (machines), we fix it,” said Mauer.

Mechanical maintenance technicians and millwrights are currently high-demand, high-skills jobs, according to Workforce Solutions. The organization projects that by 2020 the need for mechanical maintenance technicians (also called industrial maintenance technicians) will grow 41.5 percent. Its data shows the median hourly wage to be $23.

“Jobs are here and will be increasing over the next three to 10 years based on a meeting I attended with the Texas Workforce Commission.  The focus will be on new construction projects in the petrochemical field which could generate between 15,000 plus jobs in the Texas Gulf Coast area,” said Laura Baumgartner, COM director of continuing education industrial workforce training.

In COM’s hands-on program students learn a wide range of skills, such as preventative maintenance, making machinery adjustments and repairing equipment.   

“Industry partnerships have made this program successful, not only by supporting us with equipment but by providing a strong team of knowledgeable instructors and career opportunities like this apprenticeship program through INEOS,” said Baumgartner.

The COM Mechanical Maintenance Program is open for registration for the fall semester, and students may qualify for financial aid through Texas Public Education Grants and the Workforce Investment Act.

For more information, call 409-933-8586 or visit