Lone Star building Energy Institute

$20 million institute to expand hands-on, job-related training

Lone Star College has just begun construction on a new $20 million Energy & Manufacturing Institute at its University Park campus that will expand hands-on, job-related training for students in the oil and gas industry.

The new facility, which will open next January, will expand the Institute from its current 3 labs to 26 labs plus an expanded area to do equipment training, said Joe Ed Bunton, director of oil and gas programs for the college.

The current Institute, which opened in 2011, operates out of buildings on the college's University Park campus—at Hwy. 249 and Louetta Road—and other Lone Star College campuses.

"This is a huge jump forward," Bunton said. "There's a lot of people who want to get in these programs. We just don't have the equipment or the space to do that, so this will give us that capability. We will have a lot more space there and a lot more options available for what we can do."

The new 80,000-square-foot, two-level facility will house both credit courses and workforce training.

LSCS started the Institute in response to the talent gap in the oil and gas, alternative energy, and manufacturing and automated production industries. The Institute aims to fill the need for trained technical workers.

"The impact is tremendous because the demand for skilled, qualified, competent technicians is high," said John Galiotos, dean of the Energy & Manufacturing Institute. "We are a leader in meeting the energy and manufacturing workforce needs."

Bunton said the Institute is noteworthy for its emphasis on hands-on training, which allows individuals to enter the workforce upon completion of the program.

"It's important to have students be hands on so when they go to work for an employer they have competent skills to start with," Bunton said. "The opportunity to train on the equipment is unique and goes exactly with what the demands in the state of Texas are."

Staffing for the new institute will cost the college about $2 million a year, Bunton said.

The school has received a grant that will cover about 10 percent of the $8 to $9 million in equipment to outfit the facility.

LSCS is in the process of looking for other help in funding the equipment, talking with companies and seeking other grants.

Lone Star works closely with various oil and gas companies to design its program, Bunton said.

"We're working together," he said. "We design programs based on what the industry wants, not what we think they need. We are listening to them."

There are more than 90,000 students who attend LSCS's six campuses—CyFair, Tomball, University Park, Montgomery, North Harris and Kingwood.