Youngstown State University (YSU) is planning an on-campus institute to educate professionals and provide research for the Utica and Marcellus shale industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania, university officials said.

YSU also plans to establish an academic minor in natural gas and water resources, according to Martin Abraham, dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“Given YSU’s location in the heart of the Utica shale region, this new institute is well poised to meet the educational and research demands and needs central to this new and growing industry,” Abraham said at the Youngstown Ohio Utica and Natural Gas (YOUNG) conference in Youngstown, OH. “Establishing YSU’s presence in this fast changing field is a critical necessity if we are to have a role in educating the future workforce to support this economic growth opportunity.”

Industry leaders have said that Utica Shale wells could revive Ohio’s manufacturing sector (see Shale Daily, Sept. 28). Drilling alone would be a major employment engine, according to Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, who called the Utica the “biggest thing economically to hit Ohio, since maybe the plow” (see Shale Daily, Sept. 22), and the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program recently estimated that the Utica could create more than 200,000 jobs in the state by 2015 (see Shale Daily, Sept. 23).

The YSU Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute will provide bachelor’s degree-level courses in science and engineering that would lead to an academic minor in gas technologies and also would provide research opportunities for industry focusing on analysis of water used in the shale gas extraction process.

The concept of the new institute will be presented to the YSU board of trustees Dec. 14, according to Abraham, who said he hopes to establish an external advisory board to identify specific research targets for the institute and complete the development of the minor by next fall. The first students in the minor in natural gas and water resources could graduate as early as May 2013, he said.