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UW Education Helps Pioneering Student Land Job in Energy Industry


May 9, 2013 — Carla Moss was a student in an energy exploration class at Riverton High School in 2009 when she heard a presentation about a new degree program at the University of Wyoming by UW School of Energy Resources Director Mark Northam and Deputy Director of Energy Outreach Mary Byrnes.

“The program seemed like a good fit immediately,” Moss says. “Enrolling was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

This week, Moss will graduate with a degree in energy resource management and development (ERMD) from UW, becoming the first graduate who entered the program as a freshman. She also has earned a dual degree in environment and natural resources. Her UW education, which included two internships with Encana Corp., has prepared her to enter the workforce as an environmental health and safety analyst for the company in Plano, Texas.

“Environmental analysts in the oil and gas industry need to be able to assess risk, apply economics to projects and effectively communicate. They must collaborate with government agencies, service companies, engineers, industrial hygienists and countless other professionals. They must also find innovative solutions to solve problems,” Moss says. “I strongly believe my coursework has prepared me to meet these demands in the workforce. I've completed a broad array of rigorous and rewarding coursework in the ERMD program, and I am thrilled to launch my career with Encana.”

UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER) produced its first two graduates last year, both of whom were halfway through their college careers before they entered the new degree program. Moss came to UW specifically because of the ERMD program, which now has 55 undergraduates and a professional master’s degree track in development.

In addition to significant energy research and outreach, SER’s mission includes creating nationally competitive academic programs to give UW students the workforce tools to solve significant energy challenges. Encana, for one, will be looking to UW’s SER graduates to fill its workforce needs.

“Attracting, developing and retaining the best people for Encana is at the heart of our business strategy, and our university program is an integral component of our staffing approach,” says Jessica Lambdin, with the company’s university relations staff. “We aim to recruit and retain talented college graduates, and the University of Wyoming is one of our key partners in this effort.”

Don Roth, SER’s deputy director for academics, says the school aims to give its graduates the knowledge and experience they need to immediately enter the workforce or continue with graduate studies. He notes that, as global energy issues increase in complexity, there’s a growing demand for professionals with a multidisciplinary background. The ERMD program provides exposure to engineering, geology and economics along with business, legal and public policy matters.

“Through a combination of rigorous academic training, hands-on scenarios, real-world internships, and a program of connecting students with energy professionals, graduates are prepared for long-term competitive success in the future energy arena,” Roth says.

Moss says her internships with Encana -- the first based in the Jonah natural gas field in western Wyoming and the second in downtown Denver -- were “indispensable” in her training.

“I will be going to work knowing how the company operates; having a network of colleagues who make me feel like part of the team; and knowing that Encana is a great fit for my career goals,” she says. “I loved every challenge that was presented in my internships, and I've met a lot of great people. My favorite aspect of working in the oil and gas industry is that there are many dimensions to the business, so there are constant opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally.”

Moss credits Northam, Roth, Byrnes and others at SER for providing an environment for students to excel. She sees nothing but enrollment growth and “world-class research and academics” for SER in the future.

“The graduates are now and will continue to be in high demand with respect to the workforce,” Moss says. “The promising concentrations in the ERMD program will help fulfill the diverse energy needs of society.”

Photo:
University of Wyoming student Carla Moss conducts an inspection at the Hay Reservoir Field in Sweetwater County during her first internship with Encana Corp. in 2011. Moss is graduating this week with a bachelor’s degree in energy resource management and development from UW’s School of Energy Resources.

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