The Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas is relocating to Tunkhannock after a decade in New Milford.
Renovations have been underway in recent months at the former Thomas’ Supermarket in the Tioga West Plaza along business Route 6 for a facility that will more than double the school’s class size when it opens in fall 2021.
“The new facility, including a state-of-the art laboratory and industry equipment will enable growth unavailable at our current site,” said Lackawanna College President Jill Murray.
Pointing to her present surroundings just off of I-81 in Susquehanna County, PNG program director Sue Gumble said, “We have outgrown this, and we need more space.”
The lab at the school will expand from about 2,000 to 5,000 square feet. There will also be an equipment yard nearby where apparatus will be stored as it is moved in and out of the labs for instruction. A lot of equipment that is outside the classroom modules at New Milford will be taken inside for dismantling and reassembly.
PNG school faculty are hopeful the current COVID-19 situation will abate by next year so the school can open to full capacity. If not, they are prepared to enhance already planned safety features and will still be in a better position to safely accommodate more students.
“It will make it easier to adapt to COVID guidelines,” Gumble said. “We currently have 25 students in a class, so we have to split them into two classes. There (at the new facility), we will be able to spread them out in one class.”
School administrators also said the new location is more central to the pool of students they want to attract.
“This will make us equally accessible to students in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, as well as Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna,” Gumble said. “Plus, it’s so close to where most of the industry is, including Cabot, Southwestern and Williams. It will make it a lot easier to get industry people in to lecture.”
Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry said he is pleased the school is relocating into an empty building.
“This (relocation) is good news for the natural gas industry as the School of PNG has been key in providing Southwestern Energy with trained interns and employees,” said Mike Narcavage, SWN senior government and community relations manager. “Southwestern Energy is a strong supporter of the school, and we anticipate that to continue into the future.”
The school’s two-year program, which maintains a balance between book work, hands-on lab time, and field trips to gas-related facilities, includes a summer internship between the first and second year. While the curriculum at the school is constantly evolving to keep up with technical advances in the gas industry, companies from as far away as Illinois and Kentucky have been contacting the school because they too are in need of freshly trained employees.
“Lackawanna College is beyond proud of the exceptional education our School of PNG provides to help individuals obtain quality jobs in the petroleum and natural gas industry, and the move to Tunkhannock will help us expand our training opportunities,” Murray said. “We are also excited to extend our curriculum into new areas unrelated to the petroleum and natural gas industry, such as business and human services.”