Tessa Duvall | The Midland Reporter-Telegram, Texas
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s young petroleum engineering program received a major gift on Friday.
Chevron Area Manager Mitch Mamoulides announced at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center the donation of $500,000 to create an endowed chair of petroleum engineering at UTPB.
Chevron also donated $64,900 for scholarships at UTPB to be divided among areas of community need, including engineering, nursing and teaching.
“We wanted to kick in and show our support of the program,” Mamoulides said after the announcement. “We also understand that the university is beginning its fundraising efforts for a new petroleum engineering building and we really want to create enthusiasm and excitement about the petroleum program at UTPB.”
UTPB’s engineering program strengthens the community, he said. Engineers are needed not just in the Basin, but in oil-producing areas around the world.
“If not now, then when? It’s a great time,” Mamoulides said. “The Basin is growing rapidly. There is more demand for people. Companies are stepping up investment in the region, and it is great to have a university right in the heart of the Permian Basin. There is no better place to learn about our industry than sitting in the middle of the largest producing region in the U.S., that has well more than 30 percent of all the active drilling rigs in the U.S.”
UTPB President David Watts said the donation comes at an important time for the university. Petroleum engineering has been available at UTPB only since 2011 and graduated its first class of students in December.
The university is now in the process of seeking accreditation from ABET — a non-profit accrediting agency for programs in the disciplines of applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology, according to its website. UTPB will host a visit from ABET in September, Watts said.
“Chevron doesn’t just invest in any old program,” he said. “They invest in quality programs and quality institutions.”
Watts said hiring for the chair will begin at this time in 2015. The position will include a combination of teaching and researching responsibilities.
Watts and Mamoulides both said they hope Chevron’s donation will encourage other donors to support petroleum engineering, especially as UTPB pursues funding for an engineering building.
UTPB has a request for Tuition Revenue Bond funding for the 2015 legislative session which would support the construction of a $60 million, 80,000-square-foot School of Engineering Building. UTPB requested money for the engineering building during the last session, but the state hasn’t funded any TRB requests since 2006. Engineering courses are currently spread through UTPB’s campuses, with mechanical engineering at CEED at the Midland Campus, while petroleum engineering classes are offered at various buildings in Odessa.
“We think it’s going to require some state support, some system support and some support from the local community to get an engineering building at UTPB,” Watts said.
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