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Wesleyan adds petroleum, natural gas degree

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — This fall, West Virginia Wesleyan will begin offering a new degree program in petroleum and natural gas geophysics.

Students who go through the program will have the skills needed to enter the natural gas industry and take part in the booming development in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Dr. Bert Popson, a professor of physics and engineering at Wesleyan, is part of the committee that’s helped design the curriculum for the new program.

Popson suggested that training students for work in the natural gas industry makes sense for Wesleyan, which is right in the middle of the Marcellus shale development.

“The college has an emphasis on community engagement,” Popson said. “Natural gas is an undeniable part of the community. I mean, it’s right in our back door here.”

Popson was quick to point out the new program will train students in geophysics — not in engineering. Geophysicists often work alongside engineers, he said.

Geophysics focuses on the planning stages of natural gas development, Popson said, on using advanced mapping and surveying techniques to identify where to start drilling.

“Basically what you do to start with is you’re out there and you’re trying to locate likely areas to drill,” Popson said.

Engineers then step in to figure out the best way to extract and transport the natural gas, Popson said…

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