Powering the South Plains
Tech graduates are some of the top leaders in the oil and gas and wind energy industries
Nov. 2, 2013
BY BRITTON DROWN
Something about Texas Tech graduates is appealing to Dale Redman. A Red Raider who graduated with a degree in Finance, Redman continually finds himself drawn to graduates from the very region that serves as the heartbeat of his business.
Maybe it's the culture. Maybe it's the hands-on research opportunities available at arm's reach to Tech students on a daily basis. The founder and CEO of ProPetro, a leading oil and gas drilling company based in Midland, he understands first-hand the unique opportunity resting on the South Plains and within the walls of the Texas Tech campus.
"We pull as many as we can from Texas Tech to work in our company," Redman said. "The `can do' spirit that we see and commitment to making things better in their communities that they serve, just all of those things that Texas Tech encompasses, you've seen it transcend into the business world. That's really appealing to us as we look to grow our company."
Texas Tech's rich relationship with the oil and gas and wind energy industries has helped to produce some of the top leaders in the business world. Today, that relationship is being recognized at Tech faces Oklahoma State in the `Celebrate Energy' game.
"There is a huge tie in the oil and gas business from the engineering department, the energy commerce, and business school at Tech." Redman said.
On campus, Texas Tech provides students with some of the top hands-on research opportunities in the country related to oil and gas research. The university is home to the largest test well on university property in the United States. `Red Raider No. 1', located on eight acres of property near East Loop 289 in Lubbock, drilled to a depth of 4,120 feet and is operated under Texas Tech's Center of Advanced Production Research Operations (CAPRO).
Red Raider No. 1 provides Texas Tech faculty with a location in Lubbock for training undergraduates in oil field operations with real-time conditions and equipment.
And now, that research is extremely valuable. With new technologies, oil and gas companies are able to reach crude oil that once was unavailable. Texas produces about 1.7 million barrels of oil a day, according to the Texas Railroad Commission, which leads to more than 52 million barrels per month as the backbone to the U.S. production.
At the center of much of it are Texas Tech graduates who gain some of the best hands-on oil and gas research experience in the country.
"Tech strives to have the very best professors we could possibly have," Mickey Long, Texas Tech Regent Chairman and President of Westex/WLP Well Service, L.P., said. "We also continually upgrade our facilities so that our students will have the best advantages possible to be able to do their job in the market place."
Despite the largest boom since the 1980s, the oil and gas industries aren't the only to benefit from Texas Tech's leading research teams. Perhaps as well-known as any research department at Texas Tech, the university's very own National Wind Institute brings more than 40 years of research and education on the impact of wind structures and human life. Texas Tech developed the renowned National Wind Institute to better support the research opportunities and research efforts within the wind sciences field.
The Texas Tech National Wind Institute, which was officially established in 2012, serves as Texas Tech's center for wind sciences research.
Formerly the Wind Science and Engineering Research, the program was inspired by the result of the devastating tornado that struck Lubbock in 1970. The F-5 tornado took 26 lives and caused more than $100 million in property damage.
From the damage though, emerged a desire to study the effects of wind hazard mitigation sparked by a group of engineers.
"They wanted to help the community be better prepared," Anna Young, current Associate Managing Director of the National Wind Institute, said. "They wanted to help the community be better prepared for these types of events.
From that desire to help protect a community and further understand the effects and power of wind, a multi-disciplinary institute was born. The Wind Science and Engineering Research program grew into the National Wind Institute in 2012, and today offers programs related to wind science, wind energy, wind engineering, and wind hazard mitigation.
The institute is now the nation's leading university wind-focused research and education enterprise. The program even offers students a Ph.D. program in wind science and engineering - the only of its kind in the nation.
"We have grown so much," Young said. "The development of that [Ph.D.] program really helped us to solidify our standing in wind science and engineering. Because we have a 40-year relationship, we have been able to create projects and a lot of the projects we are doing are because we are being recruited and pursued."
The National Wind Institute is now armed with some of the top facilities in the nation as Texas Tech is home to its very own VorTECH tornado simulator which has the capabilities to mock winds in the Enhanced Fujita Scale of EF3 range (150 mph). Tech also houses a Debris Impact Cannon which can produce simulated wind speeds of more than 250 mph which enables Tech students launch debris in a controlled environment to study impact resistance data.
Seven full-time technicians are dedicated to the research efforts and the building of projects within the National Wind Institute and its facilities in at the Reese Technology Center near the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock.
"There are some really amazing and unique capabilities we have that no other university has," Young said.
On Saturday, Texas Tech's rich history in the energy industry will be celebrated on center stage as the Red Raiders face Oklahoma State at Jones AT&T Stadium.
"It's just a great idea," Long said. "It honors everyone that works in our industry. It makes you aware that people do care and people understand that this is an important industry in the state of Texas. I think it's a neat game, and a great way to honor people."
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