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Gillette student wins second place in University of Wyoming competition

A group of University of Wyoming students recently toured L and H Industrial, an energy engineering manufacturing company in Gillette, as part of the Martin Knauss Experiential Energy Education competition. Students are, from left, Ryan Jardee, Franktown, Colo.; Kendall Klos, Chicago, Ill.; Dayton Reese, Brighton, Colo.; Montgomery Hughes, Claremore, Okla.; Kami Danaei, UW School of Energy Resources academic director; Eli Vigil, Castle Pines, Colo.; Zeinab Akbarishahabi, Bonab, Iran; Gavin Geertson, Gillette; Kieran McMullen, Castle Pines, Colo.; and Shaikh Zunaid, Khulna, Bangladesh. (Tom Dillon/L and H Industrial Photo)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Gillette student studying engineering at the University of Wyoming won second place in the Martin Knauss Experiential Energy Education competition.

Gavin Geertson, who is double-majoring in mechanical engineering and energy systems engineering, received a scholarship as a result, according to a Jan. 6 UW School of Energy Resources Energy Review blog post.

The School of Energy Resources and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences jointly administered the competition, which was sponsored by 1980 petroleum engineering alumnus Martin Knauss, the post said. The goal of the competition is to help students “discover how Wyoming’s natural resources can be leveraged to produce energy, in all forms, for the betterment of Wyoming and the world.”

Over the course of a month, 10 students from both SER and the college visited industrial operation sites, including a wind power plant, solar facility, oil production site, drilling rig, industrial equipment engineering facility, coal-fired power plant and coal mine. They explored these industries to better apply the theory and knowledge they learned in the classroom to real-world situations. Then, they submitted a report detailing the process and challenges of a chosen topic.

“The concept of this competition is absolutely brilliant, in that it engages students in hands-on experiences and reflection, the importance of which cannot be overstated,” SER Academic Director Kami Danaei said in the release. “This experiential learning opportunity allowed students from both departments to tour multiple energy industry sites across Wyoming, interact with energy sector workers and, more deeply, understand Wyoming’s energy economy.”

Danaei said the competition examined the technical and physical trials that affect energy development and the political and economic issues of research and innovation.

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Associate Director of Career Services Tyler Grabner said the experience allowed the students to connect their classroom learning to industry and encouraged them to propose creative ways to support the industry’s efforts.

“Experience, reflection and innovative thinking are what made the energy sector in Wyoming what it is today, and this experience facilitated just that,” Grabner said.

Tours and site visits were hosted in partnership with the Wyoming Energy Authority, True Drilling Co., True Oil LLC, 9H Energy, PacifiCorp, Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Dry Fork Station, Western Fuels-Wyoming Inc. at Dry Fork Mine, L&H Industrial and Peabody at North Antelope Rochelle Mine.

“We are so grateful to the incredible industry partners that took the time to give these students such a special experience,” SER Executive Director Holly Krutka said. “This competition was a tremendous opportunity for them, and it really highlights how fortunate we are here in Wyoming to have such engaged industry partners that are invested in the education of UW students and for the well-being of the future energy industry as a whole.”

Ryan Jardee, from Franktown, Colo., with a dual major in petroleum engineering and chemical engineering, won first place. Kieran McMullen, from Castle Pines, Colo., majoring in energy resource management and development, with a concentration in professional land management, as well as a dual degree in finance, with a minor in mathematics, won third place.

The scholarships totaled $4,500.


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