BY RUTH CAMPBELL
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has struck an agreement with the Universidad Tecnologica de Chihuahua to provide an undergraduate certificate in petroleum technology starting thisfall. Rey Lascano, special assistant to the president, said the memorandum of understanding has been in the works for many semesters. A delegation from Odessa met with representatives from Chihuahua on July 15 and signed theagreement. The number of students taking the online classes has not yet been determined, but they do have to meet certain criteria. Lascano said support services will be available for the students,as well. “We’re going to start having a very strong presence there in Ojinaga to assist their faculty and staff in helping these students be ready to be able to take some of these courses,” Lascano said. “We have a commitment, a responsibility on our part to help these students. They have the academic background we expect for them for to be able to be fluent in English and for them to be able to participate and perform in the world of English, too. Those are some expectations we are going to havefor the students.” The industrial technology courses UTPB is offering are “very much in demand,” Lascano said. With the breakup of the national petroleum company PEMEX in Mexico, people have an opportunity to venture into the oil and gas industry in Mexico, but know-how is needed, hesaid. “This is the first of many opportunities that we are going to have with Mexico,” Lascano said. He added that other universities will call on UTPB to provide an intensive Englishexperience for students before they plunge into petroleum engineering classes.
“We’re hoping that they’ll also have an interest in mechanical engineering,” he said.
Robert Morrison, senior lecturer and coordinator of the Industrial and Petroleum Technology Program at UTPB, said the certificate program will be fully online.
Morrison noted that a certificate is not a degree program. It is available to people enrolled at UTPB, another institution or those who already have a bachelor’s degree. Along with the university in Chihuahua, it has been incorporated into the curriculum of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Kakinada, India. That program started in January.
Morrison said offering the courses online leverages something unique to Odessa.
“We’re sitting in the middle of one of the world’s largest oilfields,” he said. “We have a strategic location, … expertise and knowledge that we can share with developing nations that don’t have the resources and people to develop that, so it’s a way for us to expand our outreach and … to some extent to increase our enrollment.”
The Certificate in Petroleum Technology program includes six courses. If students complete four, they earn a certificate that can help them in their careers, Morrison said.
Morrison said the petroleum Technology classes are taught by the petroleum engineering and petroleum geology faculty. He wrote that he teaches business and technology courses and runs the technology program, which includes petroleum technology.
Lascano said offering the courses to students at Universidad Tecnologica de Chihuahua helps UTPB fulfill its mission statement.
People from Mexico have previously gone to school in Oklahoma or Canada, but UTPB is right in their back yard, Lascano said.