Posted: Feb 7, 2013 12:00 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com
Updated: Feb 7, 2013 8:00 PM
KINGSVILLE - The Eagle Ford Shale is causing growth in all parts of South Texas. The opportunity in Eagle Ford has brought back an undergraduate program that had previously fizzled out at Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
Outside the College of Engineering building at Texas A&M University in Kingsville sits a bronze statue. Dr. Frank Dotterweich (or "Doc") pioneered the Natural Gas Engineering Department there as the first in the nation, paving the way for students to make their mark in the natural gas industry that was booming a the time.
"That program ran, the undergraduate program, ran from the late 30's through about 1995," said Chemical of Natural Gas Program Associate Professor, Dr. John Chisholm.
The downturn of the petroleum industry, however, caused an enrollment decline in the undergraduate Natural Gas Engineering Program.
"The state of Texas was in short money situation again then and one of the things that came down is they really did not want undergraduate classes that had less than 18 people in it," Chisholm said.
Without enough student interest, the school decided to cut the undergraduate program. As of recent, however, the natural gas industry has grown and so has the interest in the study of Natural Gas Engineering.
"With the recent advent of the Eagle Ford Shale," Chisholm said, "we've had returning interest in petroleum engineering. In particular, just like before we're going after natural gas."
In class, students practice removing impurities like water, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide just as a Natural Gas Engineer would work to purify natural gas in the field. Right now, the program is in it's second semester at Texas A&M, Kingsville.
The students the university is tracking are still in their prerequisites and will start to take their Natural Gas Engineering courses in their junior year. Students in the Masters Natural Gas Engineering Program say having the undergraduate program is a smart move for the university.
"The Eagle Ford Shale is the biggest play right now," said Akintomide Olaseinde, graduate student in Natural Gas Engineering. "That's what everyone is talking about in regards to natural gas and I think it was an excellent idea; It's a good idea; It's viable and it should continue." he said.
The hands-on experience the students have will prepare them for an industry that's thirsty for more engineers as the oil and gas boom continues to grow.
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