The Lone Star College System hired Morris Architects in early September to design a new 80,000- square-foot Energy and Manufacturing Institute to be built at the University Park campus. Architectural work is expected to begin in late October with classes scheduled to start by January 2013.

"The purpose of the institute is to provide a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art facility to train a much-needed workforce for our drilling and production services companies," said Linda Head, LSCS associate vice chancellor of workforce education and corporate partnerships. "There will be a focus on drilling production services and [training] in field work."

The institute already offers programs in continuing education, which draws current and potential employees in the oil and gas, alternative energy and mechanized production industries with its hands-on, competency-based technical training methods. The new facility will more than quadruple the available space and add several labs for entry-level training, Head said.

As aging oilfield workers begin to retire, customized training for younger students within the EMI aims to bridge the gap and has been ongoing since the institute was developed in 2011.

"[This institute] provides hands-on, job related training that puts people back in the workplace quickly," said Richard Carpenter, Lone Star College System chancellor. "We know the oil and gas industry needs trained technical workers, and we're helping to fill that gap. Our students leave here with specific marketable skills."

Faculty and staff in the EMI work from various locations at LSC–University Park or other campuses. The two-level, permanent facility will contain lab space and a high-bay instructional area to accommodate training programs.

"[Lone Star College] has very strong services at its campuses," Head said. "We are trying to consolidate and have the best equipment in one place so that it's fiscally responsible."

The EMI offers fast track programs and training classes in machining, welding and engineering technology. The new facility will add programs focused on technical and manufacturing skills such as certification programs, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training. Other permanent additions will involve programs in advanced technical and manufacturing skills for jobs such as petroleum geographic technicians, field service technicians and electronic assemblers.

"The facility is going to have a strong emphasis on incumbent workers, which we don't have right now," Head said. "But we are also greatly expanding our offerings for new students who don't have jobs yet. It will be a shared facility. Our job placement services will also be headquartered here."

Lone Star College–University Park

20515 Hwy. 249

Houston 281-401-5370