San Jac's Jackson shares over 40 years experience in petrochemical field

02.22.2019 | By Melissa Trevizo

If you ask a child in kindergarten what they want to be when they grow-up some respond with, ‘firefighter’ or ‘school teacher’, but Ken Jackson took another approach. He knew what he did not want to be.

“I remember riding the bus each day and passing by a chemical plant,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it had a strong odor that I didn’t like. I swore I’d never work in a place like that. But now, I’ve been in the petrochemical field doing exactly that for more than 40 years.”

During the course of his career, Jackson has worked as an operator, a trainer, consultant and now as a full-time professor in process technology.

“After college, I was working in quality control when I saw an ad in the paper hiring operators at Sun Oil, now Sunoco,” Jackson said. “I was drawn in the by the salary and that’s where I got my start in this industry.”

Jackson, who hold a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in industrial management, joined San Jacinto College as an adjunct instructor in 1998, the first year the College began offering a process technology degree.

“I’ve seen our program evolve and enrollment has steadily increased, especially in the last five years,” Jackson said.” When I started in the field in the 1970s, you learned on the job through an apprenticeship program. Unfortunately, that meant training was inconsistent. With the degree program we have now, instruction is consistent, and students learn material much faster than I did as an apprentice.”

As much change as Jackson has seen in his career, one thing remains constant, his passion for education.

“For me, the big reward is seeing the progress students make from when their first day in the program to graduation and working in the industry,” Jackson said. “I follow some of my students on social media and it’s satisfying to see them two or three years out of school in good jobs and living comfortably.”

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 served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that puts students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.