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Emerging Energy and Infrastructure Program

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology

Overview of Initiative

The Central Pennsylvania Institute (CPI) of Science and Technology’s Emerging Energy and Infrastructure Training Program provides training for careers in fields related to natural gas processing, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, water quality management, and other industries that utilize state-of-the-art electrical, mechanical, and process control technology. The program develops technical, academic, and employability skills that are in high-demand, and engages students with quality, hands-on industrial training and a well-crafted curriculum.

The Emerging Energy and Infrastructure Training Program includes career programs, continuing education, and certificate programs in water and wastewater, natural gas, solar power, and wind power. The program also includes offerings in industrial maintenance, electromechanical, and mechatronics. Innovative learning methods employed by the program include the utilization of industrial quality, hands-on training equipment supported by one-on-one interaction with instructors, well organized written curricula, and a curriculum companion website which offers relevant animations, videos, virtual trainers, and online skill building exercises.

Through this program, CPI provides a much-needed pipeline of qualified technicians and, equally important, is having a direct impact on the quality and effectiveness of the current workforce, helping companies be more successful and competitive.

Implementation Process

Regionally, manufacturing is in high demand due in large part to Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas extraction. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 70 percent of the job openings in central Pennsylvania are for skilled technicians. As a result of this demand, local industries contacted CPI requesting training and assessments for their current employees. This was the impetus for the Emerging Energy and Infrastructure Program.

The program was launched after several years of planning, including an assessment of CPI's strengths and the industry’s needs. This analysis allowed program developers to pinpoint precisely what industry needs CPI could address.

Started as an adult education program in 2012, the first high school students were accepted in February 2014.

Results

As of 2013-2014, the program was still in early stages of implementation, so it was too early to report completion of high school students in the program. However, adult education program completers already have a high job-placement ratio and students are sometimes hired before finishing the program. Further, the adult education program courses are helping to change the industry’s perception of CTE. Previously, many of the high-tech industries only hired recent graduates with four-year college degrees however, CPI’s Emerging Energy and Infrastructure

Program graduates have developed a reputation of being work-ready, highly trained technicians, despite not having a bachelor’s degree.

Next Steps

In February 2014, the first high school students were enrolled in the program and, with continued marketing, enrollment increases are expected to continue. The programs must continue addressing regional industry needs. With that in mind, additional solar, wind and water/waste programs will be considered and, if feasible, developed.

Administrators plan to enhance marketing efforts for the program and also seek additional specialized industry experts to fill adjunct teaching positions.

Lessons Learned

Those interviewed noted that a strong foundation for the program should be built without overextending the school’s resources. Additionally, it is critical to obtain necessary equipment and hire outstanding instructors. Even with extensive planning and ideal equipment, the program will not succeed unless the instructors are highly skilled.

Contact Information

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology
Mr. Todd Taylor, Director, Adult and Post-Secondary Education
www.cpi.edu​