Breakbulk conference a real-world learning lab for college students

10.27.2014 | By Rob Vanya

San Jacinto College students who attended the Breakbulk Americas conference include, from left: Jimmie Steele, Xitlallic Andrade, Christina Espinosa, Rosa Castilla, and Alexis Odounton. Submitted photo.


As an extracurricular class activity, a group of San Jacinto College students attended the recent Breakbulk Americas conference in downtown Houston as part of the College’s International Business and Logistics (IBUS) program.

IBUS student Jimmie Steele said his experiences at the trade conference, regarded as the premiere breakbulk conference in the nation, supplemented what he has been learning in class at San Jacinto College.

“It was enlightening and rewarding, and I absorbed a lot of information and enhanced my perspective of what it takes to be successful in the international trade business,” commented Steele. “The conference speakers talked about the same aspects of the business that we’ve been learning in class. I was able to network with business representatives and obtained information about internship possibilities.”

Breakbulk deals with heavy-lift and vehicle cargo, as opposed to containerized cargo. The Port of Houston is the number one breakbulk port in the nation.

Steele plans to earn an associate IBUS degree from San Jacinto College and continue with his education. San Jacinto College maintains an IBUS articulation agreement with the University of Houston, and Steele plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from UH. His ultimate career goal is to work in the international trade industry. “I anticipate being able to earn a $100,000 annual salary after five years in the business,” he remarked.

San Jacinto College IBUS instructor Margaret Kidd coordinates extracurricular events such as attending the Breakbulk Americas conference so that students can get hands-on, practical business experience. “In the classroom, students learn about how the international trade industry operates in theory – things like handling monetary systems, customs regulations, insurance requirements, ensuring materials are secured safely for shipping, etc.,” commented Kidd, who also serves as project director of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant. “At an event like the breakbulk conference, students learn how those processes are carried out in the real world. They also can network with business owners in the industry. Making those key connections are important for students wanting to get started.”

San Jacinto College offers IBUS classes and degree plans at the North Campus. The IBUS program trains students for careers in the international trade community. Additionally, the South Campus offers an introduction to ships and shipping course as part of a business degree that transfers to Texas A&M at Galveston. An associate degree program in Maritime Transportation is available at the Central Campus.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.