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Statler College unveils measuring lab

By CONOR GRIFFITH

The State Journal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  — Students in the West Virginia University Statler College’s petroleum and natural gas engineering program have a new tool to acclimate them to conditions in the natural gas industry.

Natural gas engineering students say the new lab will allow them hands-on experience with technology used in the industry.
(State Journal photo by Conor Griffith)

With representatives from Dominion Energy and the Dominion Foundation, WVU students and faculty officially opened the Dominion Energy and Natural Gas Measurement Laboratory on the Evansdale campus, complete with the unveiling of a plaque to be displayed outside.

With the new equipment, students will be able to conduct experiments and become familiar with control technology.

Bob Orndorff, state policy director for Dominion Energy, said the new lab incorporates the latest technology, notably computerized measuring which was lacking from the previous lab.

The Dominion Foundation provided $50,000 in funds and $150,000 worth of equipment provided by industry suppliers along with technicians to install it on campus.

“It’s a great example of how businesses, industries and universities come together,” he said, adding that Dominion Energy has an entire department dedicated to natural gas measurement.

Eugene Cilento, dean of the Statler College, said the industry operates 2 million miles of distribution pipelines and 300,000 miles of transmission lines to meet the growing need for natural gas.

“Gas measurement is a critical component to that,” he said. “This lab, a significant upgrade and improvement over what we had, will help us continue to educate the generations of students who come for this industry.”

Ashley Konya and Jennifer Nauer, both senior petroleum and natural gas engineering students, explained that gas measurement factors into site safety, control, efficiency and financial matters. She said that this new lab offers opportunities to work hands-on with the tools already in use rather than looking at pictures of them or studying indirectly.

“It definitely makes a difference in our learning to be exposed to what we would work with in the industry,” Konya said.

Brian Sheppard, vice president of pipeline operations for Dominion Energy, said the company’s partnership with WVU goes back to 1984 when the original measuring lab was installed.

With the upgrades, Sheppard said he hopes the experiments and research in the new lab will lead to new technological breakthroughs in the natural gas industry. What’s more, he said, many graduates of the engineering college have gone on to work for Dominion Energy and contribute to West Virginia’s economy, something he hopes the new lab will help continue.

Guests of the opening were treated to lunch courtesy of petroleum and natural gas engineering department chair Sam Ameri, who said the lab is only the latest gift from Dominion Energy, which already provides thousands of dollars in scholarships each year.

The donations creating the new lab were made in conjunction with WVU’s “A State of Minds” fundraising campaign which has raised $1.15 billion as of October, exceeding its original goal of $750 million.

Staff writer Conor Griffith can be reached by at 304-395-3168 or by email at [email protected]

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