'Great day for Tunkhannock'
Lackawanna College’s Tunkhannock Center is now ready to welcome students with an open door to the region’s petroleum and natural gas field.
The center, located at 420 West Tioga Street, is the new home for the college’s School of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The building replaces the school’s former home in New Milford since 2009, and offers larger classrooms with more learning space for students to have hands-on learning with things such as compression and engine mechanics.
“This is a very exciting day for our college expanding education into Wyoming County,” Lackawanna College President Jill Murray said last Thursday during a ribbon-cutting. “Lackawanna is offering an accessible and affordable education in this region. Higher education is one of the main ways people can have an impact on their local communities.”
In looking over the facility that once housed a grocery store, Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, proclaimed, “This is a great day for Tunkhannock!” with the community to be able to take advantage of the vast Marcellus resources in the region.
LC Tunkhannock Center Director Kayla Guilford welcomed members of the petroleum and natural gas field to Wyoming County,. “Today marks the end of planning and provides an opportunity to serve more students in NEPA,” Guilford said. “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Lackawanna College.”
Sue Gumble, director of the LC School of Petroleum and Natural Gas said she takes pride in past graduates who are now employed in the natural gas field and hopes the new center will add to the growing number.
“This is a great program that changes people’s lives,” Gumble said. “We are not just a community college, we are ‘your’ community college. We look forward to serving the Tunkhannock area and beyond.”
The main feature of the 18,000-square-foot building is the new PNG lab that is stationed in the middle of the building. Students will be introduced to engines and compressors inside this lab to be able to learn things such as mechanics, production, engine testing, and basic compression, pipelining, as well as welding.
Elected officials in attendance looked in awe at the building. They were excited about giving local students the possibility of finding an affordable education close to home, and providing employment opportunities after graduation.
Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce President Gina Suydam thanked Lackawanna College carrying the vision of making Tunkhannock “a more central place of learning for our industry partners.”
“One of the main visions we have for our children is to provide an affordable and well-rounded education, and to graduate with a good job. “Rep. Fred Keller, R-Middleburg, said. “This center provides that to this community.”
Local schools are looking forward to the opening of the new center as well.
Greg Ellsworth, Tunkhannock Area’s director of career and technology, said the school district already works with Lackawanna through dual enrollment courses, but is hoping to strengthen the partnership with the new center less than a half mile from the high school.
“It’s a big deal having this place basically right next door,” Ellsworth said. “This area is huge to the natural gas industry, and we have students who are looking to enter that field for their careers. It’s wonderful to be partners with Lackawanna College.”
Ellsworth is also hoping students who are interested in the natural gas field will be able to get some hands-on experience while still in high school.
“I’m sure there will be lots of field trips, and hopefully maybe even some classes that can be taken for future credit so students can be ahead of the game,” he said.
In addition to the building, construction will begin soon on an outdoor well site simulation with a mock well head and gas production unit less than 100 yards from the building, thanks to Cabot Oil & Gas.
“This center is going to offer students the ability to grow with all of this brand new equipment,” Cabot spokesman Bill desRosiers said. “Cabot has seen the value of the school of PNG since the beginning, and we’re enthusiastic to see the school grow.”
desRosiers hopes the new Center will provide more qualified individuals for the natural gas field, especially with its rapidly evolving technology.
“The natural gas field is always evolving, which brings us a need for employees with new skill sets,” he said. “I know the school of PNG is going to be providing us with those individuals for a long time.”
The School of PNG offers associate degrees in petroleum and natural gas business administration and petroleum and natural gas technology, as well as certificate programs.
However, the new center is not just for PNG students. Murray underscored that students at the Tunkhannock Center will be able to start the process of earning bachelor’s degrees in business, accounting, human services and criminal justice. Students will be able to start those degrees at the center and finish at the main campus in Scranton.
The first day of classes at Lackawanna College’s Tunkhannock Center will be Monday, Aug. 30.