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University of Wyoming Secures Public-Private Funding to Advance Energy Research

March 12, 2014

With buy-in from the state and private industry, the University of Wyoming (UW) School of Energy Resources will move forward with plans to build a major new energy and engineering research complex. The recently enacted 2014-16 biennial budget also includes $8 million in support of UW’s efforts to gain “Tier 1” status for the engineering school, matching funds to establish endowed chairs, and $15 million for a test center to study carbon sequestration.

The university’s plans for the 81,000-square-foot High Bay Research Facility include lab space where large-scale experiments that go beyond the size of a traditional engineering lab can be conducted, according to a press release. The facility is funded in part by the state with matching funds from the private sector. Last biennium, lawmakers approved $15 million for the facility and secured nearly $15 million in matching grants from various energy companies, including $3 million from Halliburton, to support the complex and for research into unconventional reservoirs. Lawmakers approved another $10.5 million in the latest budget. With matching funds, the investment for the facility totals $51 million. The project is a product of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force, and was outlined by Gov. Matt Mead as a major priority for the 2014 legislative session.

In 2012, the task force was charged with making recommendations to strengthen engineering and STEM-related areas that contribute to the state’s economy and developing an approach to lead the university toward a Tier 1 academic and research institution. The strategy outlined in the report from the task force has two primary elements – a solid undergraduate degree program and a highly focused graduate effort in three to five niches where UW can excel. To this end, the budget provides $8 million to fund new academic programs associated with the Tier 1 initiative at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The budget also includes $5 million for an endowed petroleum engineering chair and $5 million for the endowment challenge fund geared toward disciplines directly related to the state’s economy.

Another $15 million is included for the design, construction and operation of an integrated test center to study the capture, sequestration and management of carbon emissions from a Wyoming coal fired power plant. A match of at least $5 million is required for the test center.

The enrolled version of the 2014-16 budget is available at: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2014/Enroll/HB0001.pdf

Wyomingenergy, higher ed, state budget, r&d