As many of you already know, the Lackawanna School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (PNG) is moving to Tunkhannock this fall as part of the Lackawanna College Tunkhannock Center. Recently, a few local, state, and federal elected officials stopped by for a tour of the new school.
U.S. Congressman Fred Keller, State Senator Lisa Baker and the Wyoming County Commissioners were among those to tour the Tunkhannock Center and discuss the school’s potential for local residents and the industry.
“It’s wonderful for our students to be able to attend college locally,” said Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce president Gina Suydam.
Planners of the Tunkhannock Center have designed the facilities to be spacious and versatile. This allows for safe distancing between students and virtual instruction as necessary. Large classrooms have cameras and wall-mounted TV screens to allow for two-way communication between those on site and those not physically present.
The Center accommodates up to 125 students according to Center Director, Kayla Guilford. “The students can start almost any program,” she explained. “They just may have to finish in Scranton.”
As interest in the Tunkhannock Center grows, Lackawanna College President Jill Murray added that offerings will increase as there is room for expansion.
Those enrolling in the School of PNG will be able to complete their entire course of study in Tunkhannock. Then, they can earn an associate degree and job-specific certifications, and move directly into the workforce with a median starting salary of $51,130.
Amenities for PNG students at the new school include a drilling and production room; simulator lab; a massive workspace to learn about compressors, engine mechanics and other heavy equipment; an electronics/pneumatics lab; and shared use of a large computer lab. The School of PNG was able to continue onsite learning at New Milford despite classes at Lackawanna College in Scranton being conducted virtually last year.
“Because the program is so hands-on, you can’t really teach it without being there,” said School of PNG Director Sue Gumble. She credits the dedication of staff and students for maintaining safety protocol. “We were fortunate to be able to keep things going.” Classes will resume at the Tunkhannock Center in August.
An estimated 90 percent of the PNG students receive some sort of assistance. Much of this is supplied by the companies that hope to hire them, like Cabot, Southwestern Energy, and Williams. The number of companies outside the area that are partnering with the school is also on the rise, Gumble related, because of the varied skill sets with which students are graduating. Students can refine their certifications as they develop specific interests. In addition to drilling operations, demand is high for those certified as technicians in maintenance, compression and corrosion.
“This is very impressive,” Rep. Keller said of the School of PNG. “The 12th Congressional District is one of the leading producers of natural gas in the country. Wyoming County is one of the centers of the gas industry, which is why this is an ideal location.”
To learn more, please visit the official Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas website.