Marcellus Family Career Night held
Many attend Mansfield University event
Published: November 20, 2012
Mansfield University’s Decker Gymnasium was crowded with more than 80 people the evening of Oct. 17. It was the first Marcellus Family Career Night event, which included high school students and MU students, as well as their parents. Mansfield University also had six past graduates representing their companies at the event.
“These graduates are working in the natural gas industry prior to the approval of our new academic programs,” said Lindsey Sikorski, interim director of the Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University. “As we started to work through our new programs we wanted to offer educational outreach opportunities for the students.”
The Marcellus Family Career Night was co-sponsored by The Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University and the Shale Training and Education Center at Pennsylvania College of Technology. This event was open to any high school student with their parents, students already in college enrolled in any major, as well as community members who may be seeking new or alternative employment. It was to benefit students interested in a career or educational path within the natural gas industry.
The main focus of this event was for adults and students interested in connecting with employers in the natural gas industry to interact with representatives and learn more about careers within the natural gas industry and the educational opportunities available locally. The timing was good since it was mid-semester, just before fall break. The Marcellus Family Career Night featured exhibitors from education, the natural gas industry, environmental/engineering firms, and state and local agencies. Businesses were invited to set up and let students know of the industrial opportunities, as well as educational ones that go along with the local gas industry.
One of the companies, Pennsylvania General Energy, whose home office is in Warren, Pa., is an oil and gas exploration and development company who has been operating in Pennsylvania for 34 years. They started in the Marcellus play in 2005 and currently have operations across the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. They offer internships and job shadowing in the following areas: accounting, administration, engineering, environmental areas, geology, GIS (Global Information Systems), IT (Information Technology) and safety.
“It’s best if they’ve completed at least two years of college,” said Karen Thomas, who was there from PA General Energy to answer any questions students had.
Larson Design Group, a small employee-owned engineering company located in Williamsport, was represented by Greg Cummings, who was able to talk with attendees about mapping, surveying, and GIS. Larson Design works on well pad design to make sure the work complies with regulations.
“We started before the gas industry and will be here afterward,” Cummings said.
Other participating employers included Chesapeake Energy, Cummins Power Systems, Dawood Engineering, EMSTAR, Hanes Supply, Hanover Engineering Associates, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, PA CareerLink – Tioga County, Safety Management Systems, Wetlands and Pa Wilds, and Wildlife Specialists.
Four informational “breakout sessions” were available to offer students better preparation for a career within the Marcellus Shale. Joseph Balduino, director of recruitment at Penn Tech, discussed Penn College’s admissions process, financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Josh Brown discussed Chesapeake and the many opportunities that are available for direct and indirect jobs associated with gas development. Balduino spoke again later about the core subjects students should plan to complete during their high school career to prepare for postsecondary programming in the natural gas industry. He emphasized the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses as well as the SOAR program in Career and Technical Education, and explained how best to prepare for placement tests. Casey Wood facilitated the last session with a discussion of Mansfield University’s admissions process, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities.
As attendees entered the gym, they were greeted by a “welcome wagon” of smiling faces. Kristen Broughton, Tiphanie Stocks, and Nichole Lefelhoc were at the registration table to direct people to enter the drawing for door prizes before entering the gym. They, along with Lindsey Sikorski, Dennis Wydra, and Tracey Brundage were available to answer any questions.
“I couldn’t do this without them because they interacted with everyone as they came in the door,” Sikorski said, referring to the great team effort on everyone’s part.
Jackie Stash, representing Pennsylvania College of Technology – ShaleTEC, explained the recent changes in their program. They were originally called Marcellus Shale Education Training Center (MSETC). When the gas industry first came into the area, Penn College started with some workforce needs assessments. They became a training provider for safety courses needed by the industry.
According to Stash, “Now that we have our energy, technology education center in place, we can do training for first responders as well as skills training for the industry. We’re now Shale-TEC and have affiliates at Penn State campuses, specifically Wilkes-Barre, Dubois and Fayette.”
They train workers in the Utica as well as the Marcellus shales. They’ve trained the industry’s workers who are going other places such as Oklahoma and Texas, and other shale plays. They didn’t want their name to be limited to Marcellus, hence the name Shale-TEC (Training Education Center).
“Workforce development became the new ‘catch phrase’ for continuing education,” Stash explained. “When the Work Force Investment Act was passed, it sought to bring a number of adult retraining and education programs together under one umbrella. ‘Workforce development’ became more prominent rather than ‘continuing education.’ Penn College now uses the term ‘Workforce Development & Continuing Education’ keeping the old with the new.”
Students with or without their families seemed to be interested in what the different companies had to offer.
Bashiru Daboh from Sierra Leone, West Africa, and a junior at MU majoring in watershed management, said he is “looking forward to learning more geography and working in the field.”
Mitch Gavlock, a freshman at MU from Renovo, Pa., majoring in natural gas production, said he chose Mansfield because of the gas industry in the area. He grew up into the gas industry.
“It’s something that has always seemed interesting to me,” Gavlock said, “and I know there’s good money in it.”
Gavlock is currently enrolled in a two-year program, but may switch to a four-year bachelor’s program. With a focus on becoming an environmental technician, he is debating between environmental specialist, and watershed management as a dual major with natural gas production.
“I really want to get a job to make sure they’re doing things the right way,” Gavlock said. “I’m a hunter and a fisherman and very concerned about the environment.”
Jordan Dugan was an attendee, along with his parents Jeff and Veronica Dugan. Jordan is a senior at Galeton Area High School who is thinking about going to MU. He is interested in petroleum.
“Up until five years ago, there wasn’t a lot of employment opportunity choices that he was interested in to stay in the area,” Jeff Dugan said. “But the Marcellus Shale has changed that.”