University of Wyoming officials are interested in establishing a research partnership between the new School of Energy Resources and Gillette College.
“We want to look to better support your efforts,” UW President Tom Buchanan told Gillette College Advisory Board members last week. “When we work together, we are a much more powerful force than when we go our separate ways.”
The details of the proposed collaboration are far from clear at this point, and Gillette may need to wait its turn before such a partnership would come to fruition.
UW officials have recently visited several community colleges in the state to discuss possible joint efforts. It has partnerships in the works at Casper and Cheyenne.
But Buchanan vows that the recently hired UW School of Energy Resources director will visit Gillette to explore possibilities within the next few weeks.
Gillette College Dean Paul Young said after the meeting that he’s enthusiastic about the partnership, but he would like to see it happen sooner rather than later.
“As always, I’m impatient about these things … for the sake of Gillette’s industries and also the long-term growth of our community,” he said. “(But) I’m realizing they have a range of projects they have to work with.”
Ideally, Young said he would like to see a partnership resulting in a local research hub that studies the energy industry and offers students opportunities for applied learning that would enable them to seamlessly work into a four-year program at UW.
“What we’re hoping for is the kind of research which is going to help our coal resources become sustainable long into the future,” he said. “We want that to happen as close to the mouth of the mine as possible.”
Advisory board member Greg Dundas, director of mining services for Powder River Coal, said he’d like to see a partnership that would explore clean coal technology, coal to liquid and coal to gas and carbon sequestration.
“If we’re really going to do energy research, we’ve got to take a look at coal,” he said. “Oil and gas are on the decline.”
Buchanan said partnering with the local college is not an opportunity he wants to pass up.
“When you look around the state of Wyoming, I think there are a handful of communities that make them ripe for post-secondary energy opportunities, and Gillette’s one of them,” he said. “I don’t want to see South Dakota (colleges) get in here. I want to see UW.”
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