Texas Tech: First university in the U.S. with a full-scale oil rig to train students

Texas Tech's department of petroleum engineering completed its construction of an oil rig to provide students with hands-on experience.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 6:47 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The newest addition to Texas Tech’s petroleum engineering program is now standing tall in East Lubbock.

The next time you’re driving on East Loop 289 near 4th Street you’ll likely see the 140-foot mast of a new oil rig as part of the skyline, giving students opportunities that they didn’t have before.

”They are able to see, touch, feel, hear the real equipment utilized in the oil field,” Chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department, Marshall Watson, said. “Basically, it’s to take the material out of the textbook and bring it to real life.”

This first of its kind training rig offers hands-on experience and research opportunities that weren’t possible in a college setting before.

“Students are being demanded upon to deliver as soon as they get out of school,” Watson said. “Now more than ever, the universities are playing a very vital role in getting students truly prepared to go to work in the field without the extra training.”

Safety is key in the oil industry, so the university has found ways to simulate the job without putting students in danger.

“Instead of oil and actual water from the oilfield, we use fresh water and nitrogen to emulate the fluids being lifted out of the ground,” Watson said.

Terry Fuller, a Texas Tech graduate and owner of Phoenix PetroCorp, says the new training ground is the culmination of years of hard work, made possible by the many donations given to the program.

“We’ve been working on this project, I think for about three years,” Fuller said. “Great generosity of some of our donors brought this all together. It’s just been a great team effort.”

The rig and well drilling equipment was donated to the university, and donors provided the transportation. It took more than 40 semi-truck loads to get all the pieces to Lubbock.

“Having this whole facility, not just this drilling rig, but what you see behind you, and all around us out here we can, we can bring students in and teach them everything they need to know,” Fuller said. “I’m just very proud to be here and be a part of it today, because it’s gonna be a great thing.”

Fuller says the need for a strong oil industry could be seen in the past year as oil prices pushed the cost of gas to record prices across the country.

He says focusing on the form on energy that has made our country so rich will help the economy and future student thrive.