Johnson College Expanding Natural Gas Training for Students

Another college in northeastern and central Pennsylvania is taking steps to capitalize on the natural gas industry.

Johnson College in Scranton says it plans to build more programs related to the industry.

After seeing the natural gas industry develop, Johnson College officials say it only makes sense.

They say they have reacted to similiar situations before. In the past, they put more focus on training electronic technicians when they learned there was going to be a lot of people retiring from the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

For more than 100 years, students at Johnson College have been getting a hands-on education.

That now includes courses related to CNG — compressed natural gas — technology.

“Right now, our freshman automotive and diesel truck technology students are sharing the fuel-systems class where they’re learning about the CNG fuel systems and then next year we’re going to build more programs,” Johnson College Vice President of College Advancement Katie Leonard said.

Big trucks are a big part of the gas industry in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Students can learn how to repair and maintain them.

“Right now, my main goal is to probably work with Cabot or in the CNG field and try and help with the advances they’re making there,” student Ed Pompey of Springville said.

Brian Viercinski is a non-traditional student. He graduated from another four year college with a degree in criminal justice but had no real direction.

He started at Johnson College last year.

“The jobs are there. The jobs need to be filled and the people that are filling the jobs are people like me that are coming out of school with hands-on abilities and skills,” Viercinski said.

Johnson College isn’t the first local college to adapt some of its programs.

Lackawanna College is focusing on the gas industry and its campus in the New Milford area.

“They see the opportunity and we want those local schools to take advantage of it,” George Stark with Cabot Oil & Gas said.

Over the last five years, Johnson College officials say they’ve seen enrollment in their diesel truck and automotive technology programs grow between 36 and 45 percent.

The college’s eventual goal will be to offer students certification in CNG technology.

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