Natural Gas Program Expanding At OSU Okmulgee

Wednesday, September 25th 2013, 7:33 pm

There's new opportunity on the campus of Oklahoma State University in Okmulgee. They're expanding a program for students to learn about a part of the natural gas industry, where there are plenty of available jobs.

This new building on the campus of OSU IT will help their students take advantage of new jobs available in the natural gas industry.

It's a 24,000 sq. ft. building that's big enough for the largest compressors used to put natural gas in pipelines. It's a growing field in part because of increased production and shipment of natural gas and a shortage of trained workers.

"The natural gas industry, there's a lot of gray hairs and a lot of people about to retire and it's OSUIT is going to be able to fill those jobs with this natural gas compressor program," said Karmon Ballard.

Ballard is part of the two-year program that includes paid internships and almost certain job prospects.

"You're not just book learning, you're touching equipment you'll see in the field and be hired on with a company understanding what all the natural gas business is all about," Ballard said.

Part of the cost of the building and the equipment in it came from corporate donations. Altogether, OSU is celebrating a $5 million expansion of a popular program that usually has a waiting list of students.

"And so we started a list and will start another class of students in January, 40 students and I was told yesterday we have 6 slots left," said program director, Roy Achemire.

The head of the program says what makes it popular with employers is that students get hands on training at school, so they're ready to work.

"What they've learned in the class and in the lab, they can put that to work for a company and typically wherever they intern, they become a full time employee," said Achemire.

The program in Okmulgee can turn out 80 graduates a year and instructors say there's a job for every one of those graduates and more.