Get the frack over it
Within the last decade, eastern Ohio has seen the rise of a new industry. This industry, hydraulic fracturing, has been a divisive issue from the beginning.
Since 2011, when Gov. Kasich signed a law allowing for hydraulic fracturing in state parks, the debate has escalated. On one side, those opposing the method of drilling for natural gas and oil point out the environmental problems that fracking can cause, including earthquakes in previously non-earthquake prone areas. Those in favor fall back on the fact that fracking is bringing jobs, both primary and secondary, to the Mahoning Valley.
Martin Abraham, the dean of Youngstown State University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, announced in 2011 that YSU would begin offering a minor for STEM students in gas technologies that will prepare them to work in the natural gas and petroleum industries. The first student to complete the minor graduated at the end of the spring semester.
Whenever there is an issue that is this contentious, taking a stance — any stance at all — will draw criticism from one side or the other.
When Abraham announced the formation of the Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute, a program that would immediately put anyone involved into the fray of debate, he was not doing it to create controversy. He was not doing it to give YSU a stance on whether or not fracking is harmful. He was doing it to give people in the area a potential future.
The program was revealed not long after Gov. Kasich signed that controversial bill. Abraham made it clear that the formation of the program to educate students for shale training was mainly the result of an industry demand.
“Every company said, ‘Get me interns’. They are looking for skilled, trained and educated students,” Abraham said.
This program does not exist to create a stir or to damn one side of the argument. It exists to provide education in a field that is demanding jobs in a rising industry in the area. And after all, isn’t that what a university should owe its students?