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NMJC adds petroleum tech degree to curriculum

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Dorothy N. Fowler
News-Sun

Once upon a time it was all about nuclear energy as New Mexico Junior College planned courses to meet the needs of URENCO and the WIPP. That’s still important, but no more important than the addition of the energy technology degree to emphasize petroleum technology.
Courtney Puryear, director of energy programs at NMJC said as the price of oil climbs and production resumes, big oil companies will be competing for entry level technicians with a two-year degree.

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“Petroleum will continue to be a major source of income in Lea County,” Puryear said, “and the college wants to prepare people for the jobs that will be available when the price of oil recovers.”

News-Sun file photo NMJC’s Kelly Tooker operates a oil value unit during a previous oil and gas class recently. The school offers hands-on knowledge to students willing to learn how the oil and gas industry works through a variety of training components including oil wells and pulling units.

News-Sun file photo
NMJC’s Kelly Tooker operates a oil value unit during a previous oil and gas class recently. The school offers hands-on knowledge to students willing to learn how the oil and gas industry works through a variety of training components including oil wells and pulling units.

“This program is different from the certification programs,” Puryear said. “Those are important programs, but they lead to a certificate, not a degree. The energy tech degree requires academic work, including math, English and science as well as the courses directly related to work in the field.”
Puryear said employment opportunities in the field of petroleum technology are open to women as well as men and urged women interested in the field to get the energy technology degree.
New Mexico Junior College has a field classroom complete with a pulling unit, a plugged well that will probably soon be opened to a depth of 2,000 feet so students can see how the pulling unit works. There is also a pump jack, a storage tank a tanker truck and other equipment students need to know how to use.
Puryear said the college is careful to employ instructors who have “hands-on, real world experience.”
“Sometimes people have all the academic letters after their names, but but don’t know how the world of oil production works,” she said. “We want our students to get their information from people who have had real oil field experience. All of the energy Tech professors are not only passionate about education, they are all experts in the subject, with hands on expertise about the industry. The program’s excellence starts with the professors.”
“We have full scholarships that will pay tuition, fees and books,” Puryear added. “I have also been working with local companies to start internship programs for the Energy Tech students. This lets students get hands-on knowledge while companies evaluate potential employees.”
Conversely, Puryear said she will ask for feedback from industry partners about the rigor of the classes and how well they are preparing students for the workplace.
For more information about the energy technology degree, call Courtney Puryear at 575-492-4714.

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-5446 or by email.

Burkett Shaw
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