Justin Tatar, assistant dean at Community College of Allegheny County’s Washington Crown Center site in North Franklin Township, will be the first to admit he is a little behind when it comes to Marcellus Shale.
But with three new courses planned for the fall semester, Tatar is hoping to make a splash.
CCAC Washington students will be able to take courses on how to be administrative assistants, accounting specialists or business managers – all professions that are in demand by Marcellus Shale companies. Students can take these courses at CCAC’s North Franklin location – its only one outside Allegheny County – and segue into a four-year program.
The decision to add these courses, which will be held during the day, stems from a recommendation from the Hill Group Inc., a Carnegie-based strategy and management company. CCAC hired Hill last year to take a look at what is needed at its Washington location. The result? The three new courses that will be taught at CCAC Washington’s Washington Crown Center location when the fall semester begins Aug. 18. Current enrollment is around 250, said Tatar, adding this includes students mostly from Washington and Greene counties.
“The (oil and gas) industry is moving in a different direction,” Tatar said recently. “All of the companies are going to need business managers, administrative assistants and accountants.”
The Marcellus Shale natural gas formation is about 65,000 miles and is located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of New York. It has been in the news for several years because of its economic benefits and because opponents fear drilling will lead to water contamination.
Still, the economic benefits cannot be ignored. Pennsylvania collected $225.75 million from energy companies on drilled wells last year. Washington County and its municipalities received $16.212 million, while Greene County and its municipalities received $9.48 million. The impact fee collected by the state is an offshoot of Act 13, the natural gas drilling law enacted by the state in 2012.
That kind of money means oil and gas companies are going to have to hire more people, who need to be trained, something Tatar and his fellow CCAC educators are banking on. CCAC Washington already has a welding program at the Mon Valley Career & Technology Center in Charleroi, where people can learn welding fundamentals.
Tatar, who is in regular conversation with oil and gas companies, said the college also is considering a program on Geographic Information Systems. GIS is a computer system designed to capture, store, analyze and manipulate, and manage all types of geographic detail, according to GIS Wikipedia. For example, GIS hydrological models are able to analyze variables such as slope, aspect and watershed or catchment area, all things that need to be considered before drilling a well. More detail can be added to the model, such as terrain roughness, vegetation and soil types.
CCAC offers a three-credit GIS at its North location in McCandless Township. The course is designed to provide students with the GIS basics.
CCAC Washington will hold an open house for prospective students from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 12. Students can register for fall classes at the open house. For more information, call 724-223-1012.