BP donates solar panels, equipment to Western’s Technology and Industry program

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Representatives of BP and of Western Wyoming Community College gather beside solar panels similar to the ones the company donated to the College’s T&I program. Shown here are (from left): Noah Archuleta, BP Automation Tech, of Rawlins; Jose Ortiz, BP Automation Tech, of Rock Springs; Levi Gale, Automation Measurement Site Planner, of Rawlins; Josh Wilbert, BP Automation Intern and current WWCC student, of Rock Springs; Rod Watkins, BP Automation Specialist, of Rock Springs; Gena Moser-Clark, WWCC Assistant Professor of Instrumentation; Paul Johnson, WWCC Associate Professor of Technology & Industry; Steve Jaramillo, BP Automation Tech and current WWCC student, of Minden, Utah; Jim Neal, BP Automation Team Lead, of Rawlins; WWCC President Karla Leach; and WWCC Community Relations Director David Tate.  

ROCK SPRINGS – BP representatives visited Western Wyoming Community College on Tuesday, July 15 to present an equipment donation to the College’s Technology & Industry program. The generous donation consisted of 10 solar panels, 10 solar voltage regulators, and two wind turbines with three-foot-long blades. The equipment will be used for instructional purposes in the College’s Power Distribution courses.

Western currently has a solar power setup that provides power to the well site equipment on which Oil & Gas Production students train. Now, faculty can incorporate wind and solar power elements more directly into the curriculum, using the components that BP has provided. All that WWCC will need to provide is the batteries, which are charged by the solar panels.

“The solar power doesn’t directly provide power to the well site instruments and controls. They power the batteries, which then power those devices.” explained Assistant Professor of Instrumentation Gena Moser-Clark. “We can use this equipment in our Power Distribution, Instrumentation for Oil & Gas, and the Troubleshooting classes. We talked about these alternative power supplies a little bit in those classes, but now we’ll have the actual equipment that we can show the students and work on. We are very excited about this donation.”

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Western President Karla Leach thanked BP for its generous donation and for the opportunities that it provides to WWCC students and graduates.

“We very much appreciate BP’s longstanding support of our Technology & Industry programs and projects, both through financial contributions and through donations of equipment that help to enrich students’ learning experience on our campus,” Dr. Leach said. “Just as importantly, BP has invested in our students’ education by providing them with opportunities for internship experiences that lend depth and context to the courses they complete at Western. The fact that many of those interns ultimately find full-time employment with BP demonstrates how valuable this institutional partnership is for them, for us, and for our students.”

Among the BP representatives on hand were several Western graduates who now work for the energy corporation’s Rawlins operation, as well as one current Western intern and a longtime BP employee who is currently taking night classes at WWCC. The past and current Western students agreed on the great importance that education has played and will continue to play in their careers.

“I got a pretty good start, I believe. Western and BP helped out a lot,” said Noah Archuleta, 21, of Rawlins, who interned with BP as a WWCC student studying Instrumentation and has now worked full time for them for one year. “I got a full scholarship from BP to go through the whole program. It worked out pretty nicely.”

Both alumni and current students commented on the value that their BP internships have brought to their learning experience. Josh Wilbert, 19, of Rock Springs, is a current student who is interning for BP this summer. He said the internship program, in which each intern is paired with a full-time employee, allows students to learn on the job without the fear of making mistakes or asking too many questions.

“The internship is really important. It gets your foot in the door,” Wilbert said. “I’ve gotten to experience a lot and see a lot. I’ve been able to apply so much that I’ve learned at Western to my job. I love it.”

“I would recommend (the internship). It’s absolutely important,” said Levi Gale, Automation Measurement Site Planner for BP and another WWCC grad. “I was the first intern who was offered a BP scholarship to come to Western, and then was hired full time. While I was an intern, I actually pushed the program and helped get others involved.”

Even employees who have been on the job for decades can benefit from classes at Western. Rawlins resident Steve Jaramillo has worked for BP for 34 years, and he is currently enrolled in evening courses in Instrumentation.

“You can always learn,” Jaramillo said. “There are new things to learn, new techniques. The technology is always changing. We’ve always said, the only dumb question in the oil field is the one you never ask. It’s always good to ask questions and to learn. For me, going to school was just about wanting to better myself.”

From a press release