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New Process Control Lab Gives UW Engineering Students Access to Industry-Leading Technologies

February 11, 2022
group of people on a tour of a lab with electronic equipment
John Tatarko, associate professor of practice in UW’s Department of Chemical Engineering, leads a recent tour of the new process control lab in the Engineering Education and Research Building. (UW Photo)

The new laboratory in the University of Wyoming’s Engineering Education and Research Building provides UW students hands-on experience with a broad range of industry-leading technologies.

The process control lab, which opened in late 2021, is a partnership between the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Genesis Alkali, which operates the world’s largest natural soda ash mine and production site near Green River.

“We are thrilled to have entered into this partnership with Genesis Alkali,” says John Tatarko, associate professor of practice in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “The lab will help expand the university’s leadership and excellence in training and research in the realms of control engineering, instrumentation, simulation, and design and construction of process control systems.”

The Department of Chemical Engineering process control program was established in 2019 when Genesis Alkali noticed a training gap and turned to the College of Engineering and Applied Science to solve the problem.

The demand for qualified process control employees outpaces the availability. Typically, process control is an area in which Genesis Alkali prefers to hire experienced people but, because of the shortage, the company wanted to take a different approach and donated $100,000 in seed funding to establish a minor in process control and a minor in instrumentation in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Partnering with Genesis Alkali allows the Department of Chemical Engineering to integrate the latest technology into its process control program curriculum and research.

“I want to express my great appreciation for the generosity and vision of Genesis Alkali for its support and partnership in enabling us to create this amazing lab for teaching process control,” says Cameron Wright, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “Realistic, hands-on experience is critical for top-notch engineers, and this lab allows our students to get that experience.”

In attendance at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony were College of Engineering and Applied Science leaders including Wright, the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Industry Advisory Board, partners from Genesis Alkali, and UW faculty, staff and students.

For more information about the process control program, email Tatarko at jtatarko@uwyo.edu.

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