Marcellus Shale

Lackawanna College Developing Shale Gas Skills

Mike Fitzsimmons
Lackawanna College Student 

I was recently asked by Energy In Depth to describe my experience as a student at Lackawanna College, which is preparing students like myself for employment in the shale gas industry.  That program and the New Milford, Pennsylvania training facilities were the subject of an earlier post on this blog and I appreciate the opportunity to tell the story from a student perspective.  I couldn’t be more hopeful about the natural gas industry.

My experience with Lackawanna College has been a very good one. The classes have been extremely informative regarding what’s going on in the industry and how it all works.  Here is a description of the Compression Technology Program:

Lackawanna College’s Compression Technology Program is designed to train technicians for the rapidly growing compression component of the Marcellus Shale development in Pennsylvania. It stems from the two-year degree in Natural Gas Technology and shortens the path to direct employment by providing a short-term training option for students wishing to enter the compression aspect of the Natural Gas Technology industry.

Curriculum Information:


NGT 105 Intro to the Oil and Gas Industry
NGT 125 Industrial Safety/OSHA Regulations
MAT 115 Mathematical Reasoning
NGT 140 Compression Technology I

Intersession Industry Internship


NGT 150 Natural Gas Engine Mechanics
NGT 130 Natural Gas Handling & Processing
CIS 105 Computer Applications I
NGT 210 Basic Electronics
NGT 240 Compression Technology II

Course Descriptions:

The following courses were created specifically for this program:

NGT 140 Compression Technology I

This class will introduce the operating principles of high speed reciprocating engines and compressors, the components and characteristics of reciprocating compressors, coupling mechanisms and critical alignment, and the principles of precision measurement. The hands-on portion of this class will introduce the tools and their appropriate uses needed for compression and engine maintenance and repair with an emphasis on safe shop procedures and tool usage.
6 credit hours

NGT 240 Compression Technology II

This class will take students to the next level of technical understanding and application of principles with modular studies covering maintenance and performance analysis, compression integrity and alignment, leak testing, lubrication analysis, balancing, and the fundamentals of troubleshooting to solve compressor operating problems. The hands-on portion of this class will include compressor assembly and disassembly, parts replacement, proper lubrication, performance metering, and critical alignments and balancing procedures.

Larry Milliken’s Introduction to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry was really a great course, providing a thorough overview of the natural gas industry. We briefly covered every aspect of the industry beginning with landmen and the common provisions in the general leasing contracts.

In just the first few months, we learned that there are proper ways to do things, that some companies go above and beyond the standards, and, most importantly, that the natural gas in this area can be developed safely. It was a relief, but certainly not a surprise, to learn that most companies in the industry are very safety conscience regarding people, property and the environment.

The importance of safety and the hazards in the industry were emphasized in every core course. An employee’s ability to follow their company’s safety protocol is an important part of keeping the job and avoiding serious injury.

Lackawanna College New Milford Center

Lackawanna College does a good job of teaching all of the terminology and mathematics. They go above and beyond to help everyone learn all the math, which is great because there are a lot of mathematical formulas and calculating in the petroleum and natural gas industry.

We were able to make numerous field trips with many different companies to see natural gas development. The site visits were very insightful, allowing us to see all the equipment in use and how each company runs their facilities.

Overall, the Lackawanna College experience has been an eye-opening one for me and my fellow students (who assisted with this submission), demonstrating the opportunities that exist with the natural gas industry and why it’s so important to spread the benefits to New York State, where I grew up.

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