A second National Public Radio report to emerge from a national correspondent’s recent visit – a three-and-a-half-minute piece on women’s increasing accessibility to energy jobs – aired Friday on “All Things Considered.” Jeff Brady’s “Oil Companies Look to Fill Employment Gap With More Women” includes interviews with Stephanie M. Puckly, a welding and fabrication engineering technology major from Spartansburg; Claire E. Kerstetter, of Lock Haven, who completed short-term training at Penn College’s Energy Technology Education Center; and college President Davie Jane Gilmour. (The latter two are also featured in the story’s print version.)
News: Marcellus Shale
A Bulgarian delegation, fresh from a conference in Houston, visited Penn College and regional gas-related sites on Friday to continue its discussion of shale-energy development in the United States. The group is meeting with key stakeholder voices on the workforce, economic, legislative and regulatory impacts of shale development, and included a college stopover in its firsthand assessment. Comprising the group were Delian Dobrev, chair of the Energy Committee in Parliament, former minister of energy and close contact of the prime minister; Zhecho Stankov, deputy minister of energy; Delian Dimitrov, member of the Board of Directors of Bulgartransgaz (gas system operator of Bulgaria); Nikolai Nikolov, Ministry of Energy; and American Embassy representatives Emily Taneva and Sally Behrhorst.
Penn College’s vice president for workforce development testified in Washington, D.C., this week on behalf of improved education and training in energy and related industries. Tracy L. Brundage appeared Thursday before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, which is examining legislative language to create a 21st-century energy and manufacturing workforce. Referencing the success of the college’s award-winning ShaleNET partnership, which responded to the industry’s call for trained employees, Brundage said an educational infrastructure – built from a cross-section of public and private interests – is among the innovative solutions necessary to meet challenges. “ShaleNET is a best-practice model that can be deployed and implemented in other areas because the curriculum is competency-based, developed with input from industry, consistent, easily replicated and flexible dependent upon industry needs,” she said. “The success of ShaleNET is a direct result of strong partnerships with employers and trade associations, Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stops, economic development agencies such as the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and local governments who share a common desire to place qualified candidates with employers in family-sustaining careers.”
Penn College’s role in training workers for the natural gas industry is featured in a report that aired on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” (and affiliate stations) on Monday. Jeff Brady, a national correspondent for NPR who recently visited campus, talked with Tracy L. Brundage, vice president for workforce development at the college; onsite power generation student William N. Miller, of Hallstead; and others for a four-minute piece headlined, “In Pennsylvania, Employment Booms Amid Oil And Natural Gas Bust.”
Pennsylvania College of Technology will provide $15,000 in ShaleNET scholarships to veterans, unemployed and underemployed residents of Bradford County.
The scholarships are made possible by Act 13 funding – fees levied on each gas well drilled in the Marcellus Shale formation – recently approved by the Bradford County Commissioners.
In an agreement similar to those enacted for residents of Lycoming and Tioga counties, Penn College will offer tuition-free training – $1,000 for each of 15 qualified Bradford County students – to provide the basic skills and certifications required for entry-level employment in the oil and natural gas industry.
Three representatives of Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Pennsylvania College of Technology were on hand when the U.S. Department of Labor recently made available $100 million in grant funding for apprenticeships.
Tracy L. Brundage, vice president for workforce development; John F. Strittmatter, ShaleNET U.S. regional hub director; and David C. Pistner, director of energy initiatives, attended the Dec. 11 announcement in the Philadelphia School District by Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez.
One of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers and providers of portable access solutions brought military-tested technology to the civilian front at Penn College on Thursday, demonstrating its product for a group of industry representatives at the college’s riverside training grounds in Montgomery. Faun Trackway USA brought along its Medium Ground Mobility System-Beam Dispenser Lite, which it hopes will appeal to oil, gas, timber and mining interests. Mounted onto a business’s existing equipment, the product lays down an operational and environmentally sensitive roadway that allows work crews to access remote areas where conditions and maneuverability pose a challenge. Following remarks by David C. Pistner, director of energy initiatives for Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College, and Michael Holdcraft, vice president of Faun Trackway USA, the group watched the product at work across a muddy field at the operations site – also used by heavy construction equipment students from the college’s nearby Schneebeli Earth Science Center. The visit was facilitated by the Shale Training & Education Center at Penn College.
Twelve students graduated Friday morning in the latest natural gas roustabout class to be trained through ShaleNETs Eastern Hub at Penn College. The 11 men and one woman, with fascinating back stories ranging from law enforcement to dairy farming to experience as Russian linguists, were celebrated in a ceremony at the Energy Technology Education Center along Route 15 south of Williamsport. Three alumni of the program – Louis Camphor Jr., of Williamsport; Jacob A. Smith, of Montoursville; and Amy L. Gallagher, of Linden – returned to offer career insight and advice; they were joined by ShaleNET personnel and Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland. The graduates themselves also spoke, sharing pride in their accomplishments and excitement for the tasks ahead. More than 90 students have completed ShaleNET training since July 1, 2013, many of them (including military veterans) assisted by Act 13 Scholarships that were funded with impact fees.
As part of its $20 million Appalachia Partnership Initiative, Chevron Corp. will provide $60,000 for scholarships to the four colleges in the ShaleNET grant consortium, including Pennsylvania College of Technology.
ShaleNET features participation from Penn College, the grant administrator; Westmoreland County Community College, Youngwood; Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas; and Stark State College, Canton, Ohio. Key employers participating in ShaleNET include Chevron, Shell, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chesapeake Energy, XTO and Encana.
Penn College will use $9,000 of $15,000 provided by Chevron to offer scholarships for Roustabout training that prepares participants for entry-level careers in the natural gas industry. The remaining $6,000 will be designated for scholarship assistance to students enrolled in the college’s mechatronics engineering technology associate-degree major, which integrates electrical, mechanical and computer engineering into one field, offering various options for careers in manufacturing and the natural gas industry.
Pennsylvania College of Technology will provide $50,000 in ShaleNET scholarships to 50 veterans, unemployed and underemployed residents of Tioga County.
The scholarships are made possible by Act 13 (impact fee) funding approved recently by the Tioga County Commissioners.
The college will offer tuition-free training – $1,000 per student – to provide the basic skills and certifications required for entry-level employment in the oil and natural gas industry. Classes may lead to employment in the occupations of roustabout, floorhand, completion technician and welder helper. The short-term, noncredit, certificate-awarding program trains residents in three primary skill areas identified by employers as critical to successful employment: job readiness, workplace and environmental safety, and technical awareness.
Penn State President Eric J. Barron traveled to Pennsylvania College of Technology on Tuesday, his first visit since assuming the presidency in May. In a timely trip to a main campus observing its 25th anniversary as a special mission affiliate of Penn State – as well as its yearlong Centennial celebration – Barron met with students, viewed three recent art installations, toured Madigan Library and student housing, explored the college’s role in the natural gas industry, and visited a variety of instructional labs. Joining Barron and his wife, Molly, on the tour were Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour; retired Penn College Board of Directors Chairman Robert E. Dunham and his wife, Maureen; Paul L. Starkey, vice president for academic affairs and provost; and police Chief Chris E. Miller. A reception in the Victorian House and dinner at Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, where the group was joined by state Sen. Gene Yaw, board chairman, followed.
Partners within ShaleNET’s Eastern Region Hub gathered at Penn College on Wednesday for a variety of presentations and wide-ranging discussion of educational and occupational trends in the natural gas field. A number of industry representatives were on hand for the meeting, which was held in the Thompson Professional Development Center and included a video of student testimonials from a recent “roustabout” graduation. The daylong session concluded with a tour of the consortium’s well-site trainer and the college’s mechatronics lab, both in the Center for Business & Workforce Development.
Penn College was among participants in Saturday’s PA Energy Games at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds. The event featured educational exhibits, a heavy equipment rodeo, panel discussions and musical performances. The college was well-represented at Hughesville, with three student teams enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: operator emphasis competing in a heavy equipment rodeo with industry representatives. In addition, David C. Pistner, director of energy initiatives for the college’s Workforce Development & Continuing Education, moderated a question-and-answer session on Education & Training. In the exhibit hall, Penn College employees and students staffed a busy booth with information about the college’s ShaleNET initiatives and its welding; heating, ventilation & air conditioning; and building sciences majors.
Ceremonially breaking ground Tuesday morning for Panda Power Funds’ Patriot Energy Center in Clinton Township, Lycoming County, are (from left in left photo): State Rep. Garth Everett, who serves on the Penn College Board; Gregory Snyder, vice president, region executive, Siemens Energy Inc.; Gov. Tom Corbett; William F. Griffin, CEO, Gemma Power Systems; state Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the Penn College Board; Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour; and Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner, Panda Power Funds. The shale-gas power plant is expected to begin commercial operation by mid-2016 and power up to 1 million homes while contributing nearly $6 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.
A documentary crew from the Ukraine visited Penn College’s Energy Technology Education Center on July 29 to explore how training is provided for natural gas industry jobs. The documentary will explore shale development in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The American Embassy in Kiev provided a grant to one of Ukraine’s leading documentary producers, Ihor Chayka, to make a film on the U.S. experience with shale gas production. The documentary will be broadcast by a leading independent channel, ZIK TV, based in Lviv, Ukraine.
Photos by Greg Franklin