HCC Offers New Program for Roustabouts, Energy Workers

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Houston Community College’s new RigOne program got underway this year, with the introductory course in January 2014. Two new courses are scheduled to begin in the 2014 fall semester, Dr. Joanna Kile, executive director of the Energy Institute at HCC, told Rigzone. RigOne is a three-course program that was developed to prepare students for careers in the oil and gas industry. The first course is more general, and is designed for all students who are considering careers in oil and gas. The second and third courses are designed to prepare students for careers as roustabouts.

The program is an outgrowth of a collaboration that began when energy industry companies contacted HCC about introducing training and educational programs to help students qualify for jobs in the oil and gas industry in a relatively short time. HCC has been working with offshore drilling contractors for about two years to come up with programs relevant to the industry, Kile said. The RigOne introductory course – An Introduction to the Petroleum Industry – is an orientation to the energy industry for anyone who is interested in learning about the industry as a possible career choice. Students must attend a free information session before taking the course, but there is no prerequisite for the course. 

The introductory course provides an introduction to the equipment, systems, instrumentation, operations and various scientific principles of the oil and gas sector. Students learn a variety of petroleum technologies, with emphasis given to exploration and drilling, production, transportation, marketing and chemical processing industries.

“Students are given an overview of the industry, what the expectations of the drilling contractors and other employers are, what the lifestyle is about, the importance of safety, and they learn whether or not they fit into the industry,” Kile said.

The course also tests student foundational skills in four WorkKeys areas, which drilling contractors confirmed are critical to the industry. These areas are:

  • Reading for Information
  • Locating Information
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Applied Technology

“A roustabout candidate needs to score at a certain level in each of the four WorkKeys areas to meet the standard set by the industry. If they are successful in testing at that level, the student earns a National Career Readiness Certificate from ACT,” Kile said.  

There is also a significant safety component to the course, since research indicates that “nearly 30 percent of rig-based accidents resulting in injury happen with crew members in their first six months of work,” Dr. Lee Hunt, HCC Strategic Advisor said.  During the introductory course, students are required to physically attend classes at the campus for four hours a week, with the remainder of the classes available online. The cost of the class, including all certifications, textbooks and testing, is $660, Kile said. 

In addition to showing students what a career in the industry is like, HCC instructors also provide students with resume help, and arrangements are made to have employers talk to prospective employees who have successfully completed the course. More than 100 people, some of whom came from out of state, have already taken the 64-hour course during the spring semester, with a successful completion rate of about 85 percent. Some of the students have already found jobs in the energy industry, Kile noted.

HCC is set to begin working with the drilling contractors from a number of different energy companies regarding the curriculum for Roustabout I and Roustabout II. These new courses are scheduled during the fall semester. Each week-long course will be rigorous, Kile said, adding that the course puts students through the actual experience of working in a simulated rig environment. The classes last 10 to 12 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, and arrangements are being made for third-party vendors to furnish specific skills instruction until the HCC Rig Safety and Skills Training Laboratory, which simulates an actual rig experience, is ready, Kile said, adding that the laboratory is expected to be ready early in 2015.  

The Rig Safety and Skills Training Laboratory will be a two-level laboratory, built to full-scale, and will allow students to participate in pipe handling, rigging, load slinging, using hand and power tools, hazard recognition and mitigation, calculating loads and moving loads, among other exercises, Kile said. 

“The courses are comprehensive, and students earn several industry certifications,” Kile said.

In the Roustabout I training course, the focus is on “industry standards for proficient offshore drilling rig safety skills, including proper handling of drilling pipe and cargo, routine maintenance operations, and practices and procedures on a drilling site,” Kile said. As with the introductory course, all instructional materials are included in the tuition. A price for the courses has not yet been set. Roustabout II is a continuation of Roustabout I. The course will introduce students to additional operations, safety skills, industry regulations, confined space procedures, handling of offshore chemical spills and emergency response processes for roustabout personnel, according to HCC.

Companies that worked with HCC to develop RigOne include Atwood Oceanics Inc., Diamond Offshore Drilling, ENSCO plc, Halliburton Company, Noble Corporation, Pacific Drilling Co., Maersk Drilling, Hercules Offshore Drilling and Transocean Ltd.HCC is offering three introductory course sessions during the summer. Introductory course students are encouraged to provide a copy of their driving record and criminal record. They are also encouraged to complete a 10-panel drug screen.

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