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New Palo Alto Degree Gives Students Pathway To Oil & Gas Industry

Palo Alto College is taking its training for Eagle Ford Shale jobs to new levels by expanding its certification program into a full associate’s degree program.

The Alamo Colleges created the Alamo Academies to answer the demand by oil and gas exploration companies for more personnel who were trained on the high-tech equipment needed for the work. The certification courses quickly became popular.

But the demand for talent at companies in the Eagle Ford area is still greater than the supply, and Palo Alto College President Dr. Mike Flores said the school is answering the call by making the jobs even more attractive to potential students.

"So this new oil and gas technology program that we’ve created provides individuals with certificates leading to an associate’s degree," Flores said. "They’re what we call 'stackable.' So there’s an 18-hour certificate that leads to a 30-hour certificate and then an associate’s degree in either production or processing technology."

Flores said the associate’s degree offers higher starting pay with petroleum companies, but it also offers greater opportunity for the student’s future than certification alone.

"If they decide perhaps that oil and gas, after several years or after a successful year, they want to build on that, all of these credits earned are transferable. They can go on to a bachelor’s degree," Flores said.

Students will learn programming for oil field manufacturing work, hydraulics operation, and other robotics work needed in the oil and gas industry.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.