School of Energy Resources Graduate Interns with Encana
Take a drive on a Wyoming roadway and you’ll see oil pumps, drilling rigs, wind turbines or, possibly, all of them.
They’re as much a part of this place as the antelope who roam the wide-open spaces, as Old Faithful is to Yellowstone National Park, as Frontier Days is to Cheyenne.
A native of Riverton, a hub in the central part of America’s least-populated state, Sabrina Forbis grew up surrounded by the definitive markers of the state’s vibrant energy industry. But she saw more than steel structures. She saw a future.
“I think the opportunities are endless in the energy industry in Wyoming,” says Forbis, one of the first graduates of the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources (SER), whose mission includes creating a nationally-competitive academic program to prepare UW students to solve significant energy challenges.
“You always hear about young people leaving Wyoming, a lot of times because they can’t get a job, but the energy industry is something I think everybody in Wyoming should consider,” she says. “You have a very high chance of getting a great job, with a great company, and the demand is always going to be there for qualified workers.”
This summer, Forbis completed her third internship with Encana Corporation, one of North America’s leading energy producers whose partnership with UW has helped change the face of corporate fundraising for the university and moved UW to the forefront of energy and petroleum education in the United States.
Since 2006, Encana has gifted $7 million to the university—matched by the state for a total of $14 million—to enhance energy-related educational opportunities. The oil and gas giant’s financial support also includes the largest private donation toward construction of the 30,000-square-foot Energy Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art research and collaboration facility that will open later this year and help the SER and its various centers of excellence realize their full potential.
“Sabrina is the model of a new energy professional and is taking full advantage of the university’s energy management and petroleum engineering programs,” says David Mohrbacher, director of UW’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute (EORI). “Her experience as an intern with Encana during the summer and with the EORI during the school year provides Sabrina with valuable real-world experience. Sabrina is passionate about learning, is dedicated to her work and we enjoy working with her.”
After working previous summers in Encana’s corporate offices in Denver and in Jonah Field near Pinedale, a key piece of Encana’s U.S. operations, Forbis’ latest internship took her to Frenchie Draw in Fremont County, where she worked on a chemical optimization project.
In the field, Forbis collected water samples from various locations and tested for the effects of different emulsion breakers, as well as the turbidity and oil and grease content of the produced water.
Forbis says her UW education, which has included one-on-one mentoring from Mohrbacher and a broad range of classes, has not just readied her for the challenges of the workplace but given her the confidence to succeed.
“I feel like I’m really prepared for anything that comes my way,” says Forbis, who is now working on her second UW bachelor’s degree, in petroleum engineering. She received her bachelor’s degree in energy resource science last December.
“Sabrina typifies the energy resource management and development student,” says Don Roth, SER deputy director for academics. “She is enthusiastic, creative, has a strong desire to constantly improve and takes tremendous pride in doing an outstanding job. She has a very entrepreneurial attitude and exceptional communication and problem solving skills. We’re extremely proud of Sabrina’s accomplishments in her undergraduate research and internship experiences. She’s a great testimony to our undergraduate program.”
As she works toward a future in Wyoming’s energy industry, Forbis encourages other young people to do the same.
“There is a place for you in the energy industry,” she says.