OSU Institute of Technology’s Natural Gas Compression program recently received a donation of equipment and software worth $137,000.
Targa Midstream Services and Spartan Controls donated the two programmable logic controller panels (PLCs) and the software to operate them. Matt Salas, an instructor in the Natural Gas Compression program, spearheaded the project.
“Representatives from Spartan Controls and Targa were here, and we gave them a tour, and I was telling them what I wanted to do in the future,” Salas said, and the next thing he knew he was being contacted about the companies working together to get a donation of equipment and software together for the program.
One of the PLCs will be used as a monitoring station that will simulate how to remotely control a station, and the other will be hooked up to an older model natural gas compressor and engine.
“We can modify an old skid and turn it into a more modern skid,” he said.
The new equipment gives students another element or aspect of the industry to be trained on before they go out into the field, Salas said.
“It’s huge. It keeps us in touch with the newest technology. We can’t go out and buy the newest technology every year,” he said. “Without industry partners and these kind of donations, we’d be left behind.”
Mike Pierce, assistant dean of the School of Engineering Technologies, said OSUIT works very hard to prepare students technically for the career in which they will be placed.
“In order to do that we need to have the most up-to-date equipment like what is used in the field today,” Pierce said.
A donation of equipment of this value and magnitude means more authentic training opportunities for students
“Our industry partners understand how important it is to train on the same equipment they will use in the field. That is one reason Targa Midstream Services and Spartan Controls are so important to the programs at OSUIT,” he said. “Without industry support of time, expertise, money and equipment, it would be very difficult to provide this level of education.”
Salas said it took about a year to get the donation finalized, and the equipment was delivered over winter break.
“Students love it when they get donations because they get to learn something new before the next class of students,” he said, and they aren’t the only ones who get excited. “I was ecstatic. I was really psyched for the students. They are one step closer to our students being diversified where they can go several places in the industry. They’re not limited to just compressors.”
When students are training on the equipment they will be using and working with in the industry, it makes all the difference, Pierce said.
“The more equipment that a student is able to practice on— especially the latest equipment being used in the field— the greater the opportunity to advance and be better prepared for the challenges of tomorrow,” he said. “This gives students the skills and knowledge to meet these challenges before having to face them in the field.”