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Natural-Gas Industry to Fuel Presentations at Penn College Library

David WaplesLarry L. MichaelThe natural-gas industry in the area, from its little-known past to its economically expansive future, will be discussed by two speakers during a Sept. 29 event at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library.

“Oil’s Stepchild: The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia: A History from the First Discovery to the Maturity of the Industry,” will kick off the discussion, which is free and open to the public from 4-5 p.m. in the library’s second-floor reading loft. The presentation will be offered by David A. Waples, author of “The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia: A History From the First Discovery to the Maturity of the Industry.”

A corporate communications manager for a natural-gas utility, Waples also teaches speech communications at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Utica College and a Master of Arts degree in communication studies from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

His highly visual presentation depicts the nearly untold history of the natural-gas industry, which evolved in the shadow of its more prominent sister, petroleum. Waples explores the evolution and significance of the industry from the first gas discoveries in the 1800s, the ways in which entrepreneurs used the fuel, the consequent displacement of the manufactured-gas industry, and the expansion of the Appalachian natural-gas network into major regional markets.

Waples highlights the growth of the Appalachian drilling industry; the first wooden and metal pipelines; the development of gas compressor engines; the pioneering of gas-storage fields; and the genesis of gas marketing for lighting, heating, cooking and industrial use.

He also charts the growth of the Appalachian natural-gas industry since its major source of supply shifted from local wells in the 1950s to new discoveries of natural gas in the southwestern United States and the Gulf of Mexico, concluding with the impact of gas shortages and government regulation that affects the industry to the present day.

An 'Oil150' exhibit, celebrating the sesquicentennial of petroleum's discovery in Pennsylvania,will be on display inside the Madigan Library's main entrance through September.The second half of the Tuesday afternoon program will feature Larry L. Michael, executive director of workforce and economic development for Penn College, who will share findings from the recent Marcellus Shale Workforce Needs Assessment. The Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center, a partnership between the college and Penn State Cooperative Extension, serves as a central resource for the industry’s workforce-development and community-education needs.

The assessment evaluated the workforce required in a 14-county region in northcentral Pennsylvania to support the expansion of the natural-gas industry. Highlights of the presentation will include a four-year projection of the number of wells to be drilled, the workforce required and the capacity of the educational infrastructure in the region to accommodate the anticipated training needs. More than 150 occupations were identified in the study as being required at various stages of the development life cycle of the Marcellus Shale play.

A question-and-answer session will follow the event, which is tied to the “Oil150” display in the wooden case on the first floor of the library inside the main entrance that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the oil well struck in the Venango Field near Titusville. The exhibit will remain through the end of September.

For more information on Madigan Library events, visit online , e-mail or call 570-327-4523. For more about the Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center, headquartered in Penn College’s Center for Business & Workforce Development, visit on the Web , e-mail or call 570-327-4775.

For more information about Penn College, visit online , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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