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February 25, 2015

School of Mines launches energy initiative

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology announced today that $1.4 million has been raised for its new Energy Resources Initiative, and the search will begin for a director.

The initiative includes both research and teaching to better meet the growing demands of the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry. The Energy Resources Initiative was announced last summer along with the creation of a minor in petroleum systems and leverages the university’s expertise and research in rock properties, water resources and materials development, as well as its location in an energy-rich pocket of the country, within 300 miles of the Williston, Denver and Powder River basins.

“This fall our first students started courses in the petroleum systems minor. We will have our first petroleum field camp this summer, and, with the support of very generous donors, we are now ready to recruit a program director and senior faculty member to lead the initiative,” said SD Mines President Heather Wilson.

A search will begin immediately for a new senior faculty member in petrophysics or geomechanics who will serve as director of the Energy Resources Initiative. The new director will have broad leadership responsibility for significant research, teaching, fundraising and further development of the initiative.

“Funding for the Energy Resources Initiative is off to a great start thanks to the collaborative efforts of the university’s Foundation and staff. We are encouraged by the support of alumni and energy industry members and are well on our way towards our goal of being able to provide better-prepared students to industry,” said Steve O’Rourke, an alumnus who is serving as chair of the steering committee. O’Rourke, president of Heat Mining LLC, is former president of global exploration for BHP Billiton.

With 20 percent of SD Mines graduates already hired into the energy industry, the interdisciplinary Energy Resources Initiative aims to better prepare students for more advanced career options, as well as position the university’s faculty researchers as resources for upstream and downstream oil and gas companies.

The university is also developing a graduate certificate in petroleum systems focusing on graduate level training.

Last summer SD Mines was among a handful of higher education institutions invited to testify before a Congressional subcommittee on its energy education efforts. Click here for additional information about the Energy Resource Initiative.

About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelors, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,798 students from 45 states and 39 foreign countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 98 percent, with an average early career salary for graduates of $65,600, according to the 2014-2015 PayScale report.

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