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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

Ultra Creates University Chair of Energy

Ultra PetroleumImagine being able to hire the absolute experts in the field to teach our young people-authorities who've worked in industry for decades and who have the practical skill set to guide a project from idea to development to realizing a profit.

That's the idea behind the Ultra Petroleum Visiting Chair of Energy, the first of its kind at UW in the sciences and engineering.

"The goal of the fund is to temporarily bring in people, often from industry, with areas of expertise that we don't have but need for future development of UW's energy program," says Mark Northam, Director of the School of Energy Resources.

The chair supports a prominent scholar or expert from academics, industry, or government, and while engaged with UW, the chair is encouraged to develop research partnerships with UW faculty in energy-related disciplines. The chair is assigned not to a college but to the School of Energy Resources, which allows the flexibility to support faculty from across campus-say, the College of Engineering and Applied Science one year and the College of Business the next, wherever the need is the greatest.

"Sponsoring the Ultra Petroleum Visiting Chair of Energy Endowment was undoubtedly a natural fit for us, as a best-in-class natural gas producer operating in the Green River Basin," says Michael D. Watford, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Ultra Petroleum Corp. "We view the University of Wyoming as a vanguard in energy education and respect their leadership. Together, we envision the endowment drawing energy expertise to the university, which is dedicated to fostering the development of future energy leaders, and we are proud to partner with them."

The chair has recently been funded and there are many possibilities.

First, UW hopes to hire individuals from industry with specific expertise to enhance specific areas within the college. For instance, a drilling simulation lab in the new Energy Resources Center facility will become operational in the fall of 2012. There will be the need for someone to assist UW to develop the curriculum and programs surrounding the lab. This need could be fulfilled by the visiting chair position.

Second, the Energy Resource Science capstone course (ERS 4900) takes students through simulated asset assessment and development curriculum. The students are presented with sets of data. They must evaluate the data and decide which assets to develop. They must go through the process of development including environmental impact statements, financing, scheduling, and field design. So, another possibility to fill this chair is someone from industry with deep expertise in business and asset development to teach this vital capstone course.

The chair should be filled in 2012, or possibly as early as fall of 2011.

That's what makes this such an important gift. It's flexible and can be shifted from one year to the next. It brings onto the UW faculty experts from the energy industry to teach the next generation of engineers, geologists, and chemists. Finally, it promotes collaboration both within the university and also throughout Wyoming and beyond-to the betterment of us all.

The School of Energy Resources was created in 2006 to enhance the university's energy-related education, research, and outreach. SER showcases the many energy research projects at UW and bridges academics and industry.


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