Building a Field: Coterra's Co-op with School of Petroleum and Natural Gas Produces Quality Energy Workers

Susquehanna County – the hub of Marcellus Shale energy development – witnessed an influx of talent this past summer as Coterra welcomed four exceptional co-op students into its fold. These students, who were enrolled in the company’s School of Petroleum and Natural Gas (LC PNG), embarked on an experiential journey that blended classroom theory with hands-on application, a testament to Coterra’s commitment to fostering the next generation of lease operators and measurement specialists.

Of the four co-op placements, three assumed roles as lease operators, engaging with production sites that form the backbone of Coterra’s operations. One joined Coterra’s measurement and instrumentation team, a facet of operations demanding precision and technical acumen. Regardless of their placement, their responsibilities encompassed a diverse spectrum of tasks, contributing directly to the company’s daily operations while affording them profound insights into the dynamic landscape of modern-day energy production.

Mirroring Coterra’s commitment to rigorous training, co-op students underwent an intensive program similar to the company’s new-hire training process. Beginning with a month and a half of daytime shifts, students lay the foundations, familiarizing themselves with the field’s essentials. This phase acts as a crucial primer before transitioning to evening shifts, where they delve into intricate aspects such as plunger lift and compressors. This immersive experience not only enhances their technical acumen but also offers a firsthand taste of the “evening shift” lifestyle inherent to the industry. Regular assessments facilitated by Coterra personnel ensured that their progress remained on track, honing their preparedness to tackle the real-world challenges inherent in the field.

A significant facet of this co-op initiative stems from the exceptional mentorship provided by Coterra’s foremen, all industry veterans bringing years of experience to the challenges and opportunities that define the energy sector. Foreman Ben Whitaker, who graduated from LC PNG, shared his enthusiasm for this year cohort:

“The caliber of our co-op students continues to rise, demonstrating exceptional dedication, preparation, and a strong work ethic. These students are not only well-versed in theoretical knowledge, but also exhibit an impressive understanding of real-life industry situations and procedures.”

Adam Vogt, a measurement Foreman at Coterra, echoes a similar training mentality for his co-op. Under his guidance, the co-op students engage in fundamental programming, troubleshooting, and calibration – all tasks which help to enrich their skillset. Vogt articulates, “There is generally a base set of goals that we set and build off from there. First, to gain exposure to measurement and automation in a gas field setting. Second, to practice a safe, confident, and professional workplace.”

As Coterra’s co-op program shapes future energy leaders, it transcends conventional education, culminating in a workforce that seamlessly melds academic prowess with real-world proficiency. By nurturing emerging lease operators and measurement specialists, Coterra ignites a paradigm shift, where practical expertise harmonizes with academic excellence, poised to overcome the energy sector’s evolving challenges. These co-op graduates who will help lead and transform our energy future are building a field, and leading the path to excellence.