SOWELA creates Louisiana’s only oil pipeline training academy


SOWELA Technical Community College is getting a $1 million donation from TC Energy to create a new TC Energy Pipeline Academy at its Lake Charles Campus—the first of its kind in Louisiana and only the third of its kind in the nation.

The gift includes a pipeline for training purposes.

“The creation of the TC Energy Pipeline Training Academy is a great and unique opportunity for SOWELA to partner with one of the world’s largest energy companies to provide training in a specific field that touches all aspects of the Louisiana economy,” says SOWELA Chancellor Neil Aspinwall. “TC Energy’s investment is yet another example of how industry and education can partner to provide a trained and skilled workforce for Louisiana and the nation.”

TC Energy currently manages more than 57,500 miles of natural gas pipeline and 3,000 miles of oil pipeline in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, employing approximately 7,000 people. About 150 TC Energy employees live and work in Louisiana.

“With a long-established presence in Louisiana, TC Energy is proud to partner with SOWELA as we work together on education and training initiatives that will help develop a skilled workforce and the next generation of community leaders,” said John McWilliams, TC Energy’s vice president of U.S. Gas Operations. “Through the hands-on learning that the TC Energy Pipeline Training Academy will provide, students will gain experience with advanced technology, tools, and techniques used in the industry that will lead to improved performance while safely meeting our countries growing energy needs.”

The TC Energy Pipeline Academy at SOWELA will serve as a regional learning center for students pursuing a career in the oil and gas field—one of Louisiana’s largest workforce industries. It will feature an outdoor pipeline loop construction structure that will be used to familiarize and train students with real-life work environments and scenarios.

According to recent studies, the oil and gas industry employs nearly 45,000 Louisianans, primarily in South Louisiana. The new academy is being created to help fill a growing number of energy industry jobs and provide specific pipeline training in South Louisiana and surrounding areas.

In addition to the $1 million donation from TC Energy, SOWELA recently announced a $250,000 donation from Houston-based Cheniere Energy and the launch of a partnership in the form of an apprenticeship program.

David Hayes, Sowela executive director of workforce solutions, said pipeline construction is expected to begin by the fall of 2020 and the program will launch in summer 2021.