About a dozen area high school students and their parents recently participated in an open house at the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (LC PNG) in Tunkhannock. They were able to visit various classrooms and labs, sit in on night classes, and talk with teachers, administrators, and a second-year student who has a job waiting for him.
Several visitors have already expressed an interest in the two-year programs offered. Others had their interests sparked by the hands-on opportunities and potential to graduate immediately into family-sustaining jobs in the gas and oil fields.
The Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium (NTIEC) aims to match local students with available jobs and guide them to programs and financial resources that will help both students and companies achieve their goals. An endowment from Coterra helped to establish the school a decade ago. Financial and material assistance from others in the industry have helped it grow and move to its present location in Tunkhannock.
NTIEC educational coordinator and administrative teams leader Debbie Tierney and LC PNG program director Sue Gumble provided welcoming remarks and led the tour. Sue was an early graduate of the PNG program.
Debbie and Sue assured the visitors that the natural gas business will be in the area for many years. She noted that the lifespan of a well is 40-60 years and drilling in the area is far from completed. Paid internships are part of the program, and job placement for graduates is nearly 100 percent. “The companies actually do come here and fight over our students to get them to come and work for them,” Sue stated. “We don’t have enough students to fill the positions. I don’t know of any (former student) who’s not working.”
Sue took the guests to a simulation lab that was sponsored by gas companies during the height of the pandemic when they could not visit active gas sites. “If you like gaming, you’ll love this,” Sue said of the PCs and troubleshooting software on which students usually work in pairs.
Tour-goers were asked to briefly describe their backgrounds and their reasons for attending the event. Zoey, a sophomore from Lackawanna Trail is interested in welding and attended NTIEC’s Gas & Oilfield Experience last summer. Jonas, a junior from Wilkes-Barre said, “I like being outside and getting my hands dirty.”
Chase, a senior at Tunkhannock, has yet to make final post-graduation plans. However, he was impressed by the amount of equipment in the mechanics lab and the focus on hands-on learning. So was his mother, Christina.
“I was unfamiliar with the petroleum and natural gas industry. However, I do feel that the tour was very informative,” she said afterward. “I saw a lot of current students smiling, which is always a good sign.”
“Our students and teachers love to be here,” Sue told the group. “We become a family, and students stay in touch after they graduate.”
Tom Evans from Wilkes-Barre will graduate in May 2022 and already has a job lined up via his internship. He’s seen the vast improvements in the program since the LC PNG program moved from its smaller confines in New Milford. He also likes the add-on certifications, such as OSHA, CPR, and even for Snap-On Tools that can be beneficial in many fields.
As the Open House wound down, parents and students were already asking Sue about enrollment in the school. Some even registered with Debbie for NTIEC’s summer Energy & Oilfield Career Experience.