In yet another sign of how seriously academia in Texas is taking the energy industry, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas just opened a new, 42,000-square foot petroleum engineering facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week. The drilling lab is already up and running, and other classes are beginning in March.
The name of the new, $22.8 million research facility is the Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building. The name was chosen to recognize Terry and Linda Fuller of Frisco, Texas, who were graduates of Texas Tech and were the lead benefactors for the building, which was funded entirely by private contributions and by industry, including Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Apache Corporation and Chevron Corporation.
“The building is a testament to Texas Tech’s commitment to expanding petroleum engineering research,” said M. Duane Nellis, Texas Tech University president, in a press release. “Together with this facility and its technology, the Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering will continue to lead the way, graduating top-quality engineers and sending them to meet the worldwide demands of the industry.”
Texas Tech’s Department of Petroleum Engineering began more than 65 years ago and is one of the largest petroleum engineering departments in the world in terms of the number of students in the program. The department is staffed by a faculty with energy industry experience, and the curriculum is focused on production, operations and completion, enabling graduates of the university to make up a significant number of the petroleum engineers in the Permian Basin.
“We’re fortunate to have the Permian Basin as our playground,” said Marshall Watson, professor and Roy Butler Chair/Department Chair at the Bob L. Herd department of petroleum engineering, to Rigzone. “Texas Tech has really developed a reputation for putting out engineering students who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. We have a strong reservoir engineering program, but we’re really well known as a production, engineering and drilling school,” Watson said.
Watson, who had a 30-year career with Shell before joining the Texas Tech staff, said that there is a strong focus on providing the students with real-world, practical experience.
“What industry has been seeing is a bunch of test-takers. The students are really bright and know formulas and theories, but they lack the practical experience necessary on the job that industry once provided. Now, it’s all farmed out to colleges and universities,” he said, adding that the combination of traditional teaching and hand-on practical experience available in Texas Tech’s petroleum engineering department was necessary to produce valuable energy-sector workers.
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