Originally published in Tulsa Business & Legal News | Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee launched a new School of Energy Technologies that is expected to better position the university to prepare a sustainable workforce for the region’s oil and gas industries.
Roy Achemire, the new dean of the School of Energy Technologies, is a frequent conference speaker on the topic of energy technologies. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Natural Gas Compression and Pipeline Integrity Technology programs at OSUIT.
“Energy is such a big part of Oklahoma’s economy, but it’s also integral to the region in states such as Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas and Louisiana,” Achemire said. “Having these programs under one umbrella gives our advisors and industry partners one place they can go to meet their needs.”
With 75 percent of the nation’s oil and gas production and several of the nation’s largest energy enterprises within a 500-mile radius of Okmulgee, the university is in constant contact with industry leaders regarding existing and emerging needs.
“OSUIT has a distinguished track record of success in working collaboratively with industry partners in the development of programs directed to critical workforce needs,” said Dr. Scott Newman, vice president of Academic Affairs.
In addition to allowing OSUIT to better respond to the needs of its energy-sector partners, the new School of Energy Technologies will facilitate greater synergy between the university’s energy-focused programs, currently housed in separate academic units, Newman said.
Further, the establishment of a School of Energy Technologies will improve the institution’s ability to connect with prospective students interested in pursuing careers in energy-related disciplines.
Three existing programs already thriving at the university — Power Plant Technologies, Pipeline Integrity Technology and Natural Gas Compression — will reorganize under the School of Energy Technologies.
“We’ll strengthen our existing programs and build on our partnerships to see where growth can occur,” Newman said. “This could lead to the formation of new programs and degree opportunities as these current programs come under one umbrella.”
Both Newman and Achemire said the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry isn’t deterring the school and, in fact, has had a minimal impact on the programs. While companies are looking at readjustments in the current market, a demand for highly-skilled employees will remain high.
“We have to look long term if we want to position OSUIT for the future,” Newman said.