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.
Several ShaleNET certificate training offerings at Pennsylvania College of Technology have been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans eligible under a VA training assistance program.
Representatives from the state departments of Community and Economic Development and Labor and Industry visited Penn College on Thursday to tour the Energy Technology Education Center. The contingent is spending three days in central Pennsylvania counties as part of the Corbett Administration’s JOBS1st on the Road program. While here, officials are attending workshops, visiting business and touring communities to celebrate and see firsthand projects that are impacting the local economy. At ETEC, the group watched a drill-rig demonstration by students in a three-week roustabout-training course and several “props” at the course, suitable for training both potential gas-industry employees and emergency response crews.
A full-size natural gas wellhead has been donated to ShaleNET U.S. and installed in an electronics and computer engineering technology classroom on Penn College’s main campus. A partnership of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and FMC Technologies resulted in Monday’s delivery to the college’s Center for Business & Workforce Development, where the equipment will be used by the ShaleNET U.S. regional hub in training for occupations in the oil and natural gas industry. Fully spruced up for instructional use, the wellhead arrived in five pieces: more than two tons of steel that, until recently, was at work in the field. After a requisite safety briefing, Penn College General Services and Allison Crane & Rigging assisted in the unloading, transport and assembly– a process that FMC’s John Amburgey called “big-boy Legos.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino visited Penn College on Wednesday to learn more about the college’s workforce preparation for gas industry-related jobs. The 10th District Republican spoke with employees in Workforce Development & Continuing Education, toured the Energy Technology Education Center, and looked at an electronics and computer engineering technology lab where students are helping to set up a simulated well site. Marino is a 1983 graduate of Penn College’s forerunner, Williamsport Area Community College.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett made a Tuesday visit to Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center near Allenwood, where – surrounded by the workforce of tomorrow, embodied by diesel technology and on-site power generation majors – he presented a 73-page resource guide designed to attract business and industry investors to the energy-rich commonwealth. “Whether from the well pad to the corner grocery store, the expansion of our energy sector has made Pennsylvanians better off and made us the vanguard of American energy independence,” the first-term Republican told an audience of students, college employees and the media. “This is an ‘all of the above and below’ strategy. It endorses every path, from gas wells running a mile below the earth to wind power high above.” The governor, joined by area legislators and state Labor and Industry Secretary Julia K. Hearthway, also toured the Energy Technology Education Center along nearby Route 15, a collaborative provider of hands-on training to emergency responders and to new and incumbent workers in the natural gas field.
Education and training partners within the ShaleNET Eastern Region recently met on Penn College’s main campus for an update on developments in the collaborative workforce- and community-development initiative centered around opportunities in the natural gas industry. A variety of speakers and presentations marked the Dec. 5 event, held in the Thompson Professional Development Center, covering topics that included future grant-funded career training activities and outreach to secondary and postsecondary institutions.
Photos by Craig R. Urey, student photographer