OKMULGEE — Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology President Bill Path acknowledged Wednesday the newest building on campus isn't much to look at.
The Chesapeake Energy Natural Gas Compression Training Center is a massive metal warehouse.
“It's practical. It's functional. It's safe. It's efficient,” Path said. “Personally I think it's absolutely beautiful.”
The nearly $5 million training center is the first of its kind in the energy industry, allowing OSU's Institute of Technology to train twice as many students to diagnose, service and maintain gas compression equipment.
Officials celebrated the opening of the new center Wednesday.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. was the lead donor on the project, contributing $2 million. Other supporters included Devon Energy Corp., ONEOK Inc. and Texas-based pipeline operator Energy Transfer.
Chesapeake Oilfield Service CEO Jerry Winchester said he is excited about the new training center.
“We have hired a tremendous number of people from this program,” he said. “We will continue to hire more.”
Winchester said the Chesapeake subsidiary needs people to maintain the production equipment at well sites throughout its operating area to keep oil and natural gas flowing.
“When the compressor shuts down, the production shuts down,” he said.
Roy Achemire, head of the institute's heavy equipment and vehicle institute, said compressor training has been part of the school's curriculum since 1974, when students were trained to work on an engine built in 1951.
OSU's Institute of Technology began offering a full-time natural gas compression program in 1999, he said, but demand for such skills continues to grow.
Achemire said the new 23,920-square-foot training center will allow the institute to double the size of its program to 150 students.
He said the two-year program has 134 students, but he expects it to hit 150 as soon as January.
The new training center features an expansive shop area filled with an array of different compressors to help students put their classroom training to use.
Achemire said students also gain experience in full-semester internships with energy companies.
Student Travis Smith worked for ONEOK in the Elk City-Weatherford area during his internship. He said he worked with his mentor on a variety of compressors and engines.
Smith, an Anadarko native on pace to graduate in August, said he was drawn to the compression program by the opportunities it provided.
“There's jobs ready for us when we graduate,” he said.
Achemire said most students who earn an associate degree in applied science from OSU's Institute of Technology end up in good-paying oil and gas industry jobs.
“We have virtually 100 percent employment,” he said.
It's practical. It's functional. It's safe. It's efficient. Personally I think it's absolutely beautiful.”
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology President Bill Path