Eight shiny new shovels were wielded by eight VIPs wearing suits and white hard hats, each emblazoned with three black letters -- PTI -- during a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 26 for Pittsburgh Technical Institute's $3.5 million energy technology center that will house courses in oil and gas electronics.
Construction is part of the North Fayette schools' mission of "preparing students for high-paying, in-demand jobs," said Greg DeFeo, PTI president, adding that school officials attended conferences and "talked to people who hire" before starting construction and planning new courses and degrees.
Construction of the 15,392-square-foot steel structure is expected to be completed by autumn. Staff is enrolling students for the oil and gas electronics program that begins in July, and the new welding technology program that begins in October.
Part of construction is funded by a $750,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
General contractor is Franjo Construction Corp. of Homestead. The architect is Tasso Katselas Associated Inc. of Pittsburgh.
The building will include classrooms and three labs with nearly $1 million in equipment.
The project includes a rain garden.
The two new programs "will support the energy industries with a pipeline of skilled individuals," Mr. DeFeo said. "Research suggests a high demand in Western Pennsylvania for electronics professionals at compressor stations, at energy facilities and on pipeline projects, who have the skills to monitor the extractions, storage and transmission of this natural resource."
Jobs are being "created by the exponential growth surrounding the exploration and development of Marcellus Shale and, in the future, Utica Shale," says PTI brochures. Student interest and employer reactions" to the new programs "has been strong." About 200 students are expected to enroll in the new programs in 2013.
More than 60 people attended the groundbreaking, including staff from the offices of the governor, the U.S. Congress and the state Legislature as well as representatives of companies such as Range Resources and Consol Energy Inc.
"Tens of thousands" of people will be hired through the end of this decade to work in the gas and oil industries, said Bill Flanagan, executive vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Many of those jobs will require more training than high school but less than a four-year college.
PTI is a "career-focused two-year college," Mr. DeFeo said, and construction of the new building is "the next milestone in our vision."
Nearly 2,000 students on the 180-acre campus take degree and certificate programs in areas including business, criminal justice, hospitality and culinary arts, nursing, trades technology and energy and electronics technology.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-722-0087.