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CCAC, Energy Innovation Center respond to energy industry’s growing demand

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Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Pittsburgh Gatways vice president Bill Miller stands in the new entry building added to the former Connelley Trade School, currently being renovated into the Energy Innovation Center Institute along Bedford Avenue in the Hill District Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014.
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Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
The former Connelley Trade School will reopen the Energy Innovation Center Institute along Bedford Avenue in the Hill District Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. The glass enclosure was added as the new entry to the building.

An educational partnership in Pittsburgh will offer students hands-on training for careers in the energy industry and aims to make blue-collar jobs more attractive.

The deal signed Wednesday between the Energy Innovation Center and Community College of Allegheny County is the first of several partnerships that will link the nonprofit center with universities and colleges in Pittsburgh.

The center is housed in the former Connelly Technical Institute building in the Hill District, which was renovated with laboratories and classrooms. Classes will prepare students for a range of jobs, including heating and cooling and energy-efficient building management.

“We’re hoping it’s going to revolutionize the way education is done in Pittsburgh,” said William Cagney, a member of the CCAC Board of Trustees and business manager of the local chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers. “We need young people to be interested in blue-collar trades.”

The goal of the center is to respond directly to what the energy industry says it needs in a workforce by developing a curriculum around demand, said Bill Miller, chief operating officer of the center.

CCAC and the center said they hope the partnership attracts minority students from Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, such as the Hill District, and that they are planning an outreach effort to invite local residents to explore the facility.

“It’s not where it is by accident,” Cagney said.

The partnership is a part of a growing response to demand for more workers from the energy industry in Pennsylvania. Westmoreland County Community College has a similar program housed in its Advanced Technology Center that offers students hands-on training in gas drilling techniques, manufacturing and other energy-related trades. Community College of Beaver County and Rosedale Technical College also offer programs focused on shale energy trades.

“It’s definitely a direct cousin,” said Robert Meeder, chief executive officer of the EIC. But the center goes beyond gas drilling and manufacturing and is a training intersection for several schools, he said.

The center is waiting on its occupancy permit, which it hopes to receive in a few weeks, and then will begin classes in parts of the building, Miller said.

Katelyn Ferral is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5627 or [email protected].

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