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Lone Star College moves forward with Energy and Manufacturing Institute facilities

HOUSTON (Sept. 12, 2012) – The Lone Star College Energy and Manufacturing Institute got a big green light on Thursday as the Lone Star College System Board of Trustees approved funds to hire a firm for architectural design of permanent, dedicated facilities.                     

The Lone Star College Energy and Manufacturing Institute will be constructed as a two-level, 80,000 square-foot facility at the Lone Star College-University Park campus at State Highway 249 and Louetta Road. Currently, EMI staff members and instructors work from space at LSC-University Park and the other Lone Star Colleges.

“Our Energy and Manufacturing Institute provides hands-on, job-related training that puts people back in the workplace quickly,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor. “This is outcome-based training – we know the oil and gas industry needs trained technical workers, and we’re helping to fill that need.

“Our students leave here with specific marketable skills,” said Dr. Carpenter.

The EMI was developed by LSCS and Lone Star Corporate College in response to the national, state and local talent gap in the oil and gas, alternative energy, and manufacturing and mechanized (automated) production industries. Customized training has been ongoing since the institute was formed in 2011.

This talent gap has been called the “big crew change” and is caused by retirement of current workers and company expansions to more worldwide locations. The problem is aggravated by the lack of in-house training programs for technical workers in many large oil and gas and related manufacturing companies, creating extreme difficulty filling technical positions.

A 2011 benchmark study by Schlumberger Business Consulting outlines an “outflow of more than 22,000 senior key petro-technical professionals (in the energy and production industries) by 2015.”

The new EMI building will allow LSCS to expand its current offerings to address those needs from local and regional employers. The building will include dedicated lab space along with a specialized high-bay instructional area designed to accommodate additional energy sector workforce training programs – from training for basic entry-level personnel to training office personnel needed in exploration and production companies.

New programs involving advanced technical and manufacturing skills such as petroleum geographic technician, petroleum field service technician and electronic assembler will complement existing programs in CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining, welding, logistics and supervision.

Other training at EMI includes the popular engineering technology program, where students learn a combination of technical skills that prepare them to work on and with equipment integrating electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics and computer controls.

Aligning with Houston energy and energy-related employers to develop the right solutions based on industry-defined competencies and assessment is the key to filling current talent gaps caused by the big crew change. This customized training offered at EMI for corporations includes certification programs, and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training – all designed to satisfy state and national industry standards.

“The Lone Star College’s Energy and Manufacturing Institute represents a significant investment in the region,” said Andres Alcantar, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. “This state-of-the-art facility will address workforce needs in these high growth industries and enable workers to acquire in-demand skills. I commend Lone Star College for working with the employer community to build a skilled and competitive workforce in Texas.”

While EMI staff members have been working to fill the need, demand has outpaced supply.

“The Houston region is an international center for the energy industry,” said Dr. Carpenter. “These employers have turned to Lone Star College for help, to get more workers trained and in the field.”

Architectural work on the EMI building is expected to begin later this month and construction is slated to start early next year.

“We applaud Lone Star College for recognizing the workforce training needs and getting a plan in place,” said Dr. Raymund Paredes, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  “For Texas to remain competitive, it is imperative that we are able to put people to work in STEM jobs like these (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).”

The EMI is a member of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, the National Association for Manufacturers, the Houston Energy Collaborative and the Greater Houston Partnership.  For more information go to LoneStar.edu/EMI.

With 78,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the fastest-growing community college system in the nation and the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.