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.)
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.”
Gov. Wolf Visits Energy Technology Education Center
In his first visit since taking office in January, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf toured the Energy Technology Education Center on Wednesday in support of postsecondary education that meets the needs of regional and statewide employers. “Our citizens must have access to the education and training that jobs require, particularly as we continue to grow our energy industry,” he said. “Reinvesting in programs (such as ShaleNET) will help prepare people for jobs that pay.” ETEC, a training site for current and prospective gas-industry employees and emergency response crews, is a collaboration among Penn College, Lycoming County and industry partners.
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.
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.
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
ShaleNET, a federally funded training program, recently received the Energy Leadership Award in Workforce Development at an annual awards ceremony sponsored by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
ShaleNET was launched in 2010 with a $4.96 million Community Based Job Training grant awarded to Westmoreland County Community College by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Pennsylvania College of Technology, the Allegheny Conference for Community Development and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association were the other partners in the original grant-funded program.
Accepting the award at a Business Times-hosted Energy Gala in Washington County were Patrick Gerity, vice president of continuing education, workforce and community development, Westmoreland County Community College, and Tracy L. Brundage, assistant vice president for workforce and economic development, Penn College.
Pennsylvania College of Technology held a ceremony Friday at its Energy Technology Education Center to dedicate a drilling rig simulator that supports hands-on learning for the college’s natural gas training offerings.
The simulator was purchased with U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training funds. In addition, New Pig, of Tipton, donated a protective geosynthetic membrane that was installed beneath the rig simulator.