Korean Oil Refiner Investing in Tulsa STEM Education

Jun 6, 2017

Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance Program Director Xan Black (right) and SK Plymouth Director Bill Diggs pose with a check representing SK Innovations' donation to support local science, technology, engineering and math education.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

South Korea’s first oil refining company is the latest booster for science, technology, engineering and math education in Tulsa.

SK Innovations will give the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance $50,000 over two years.

TRSA's Xan Black with said the money will go to programs and training to benefit students.

"That could be anything from camps to mentorship to after-school programming, and then professional development to get out teachers confident and competent to engage and inspire the next generation of STEM workforce," Black said.

SK Innovations' Tulsa subsidiary, SK Plymouth, will work with TRSA on programs to benefit the energy industry. Black said kids need the problem-solving abilities from STEM education no matter what their future career is, though.

"If we give them problem-solving practice — just like we give them soccer practice — they'll get really good at it, and then they'll choose what kind of problems they want to solve," Black said. "And if they're in the energy industry, great. If they're in aerospace, great. All of our wealth-producing sectors in Oklahoma depend on a STEM workforce."

Bill Diggs, the head of SK Plymouth, said TRSA introduces kids to advanced skills they otherwise might not hear about until college, like robotics or programming. Diggs said TRSA's programs also help to dispel the stereotype of the male scientist or engineer.

"Every industry, I think, can benefit on the technical side by having more women involved," Diggs said. "There's a science basis to the education, but I think women bring a different perspective to the business that's very beneficial."

SK Innovations' donation will be paid in two $25,000 installments.