By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer

Dr. Doreen Larson (left) and Richard Creehan (right) finalize the new degree program in petroleum technology. Elected officials, including Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, as well as representatives from FESCO, Alderson Broaddus University and Pierpont Community & Technical College look on as the articulation agreement is signed.
Dr. Doreen Larson (left) and Richard Creehan (right) finalize the new degree program in petroleum technology. Elected officials, including Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, as well as representatives from FESCO, Alderson Broaddus University and Pierpont Community & Technical College look on as the articulation agreement is signed.

Alderson Broaddus University will partner with Pierpont Community & Technical College in a joint academic effort for a major in petroleum management.

More than 100 attendees – representatives of several oil and gas and energy companies, school officials from both Alderson Broaddus and Pierpont, business owners, chamber of commerce members and other guests – gathered at a press conference Friday, Jan. 23 at FESCO, Ltd. in Bridgeport to hear about the new partnership. FESCO is a diversified oilfield service company.
Alderson Broaddus will provide a bachelor’s degree opportunity for students who earn an associate of applied science degree in petroleum technology at Pierpont, said ABU President Dr. Richard Creehan.
“Today we will sign an articulation agreement that will forge a partnership that begins with the Pierpont Community & Technical College petroleum program, and allow students to complete a Bachelor of Science in petroleum management at Alderson Broaddus University,” Creehan said at the event.
The program begins in the fall and is already accepting students.
The Pierpont petroleum technology program includes 60 credits of study -15 credits in general education courses and 45 credits specific to the petroleum industry. ABU will accept the credits from Pierpont and provide an additional 61 to 64 credits of study to complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum management.
While the associate degree from Pierpont, along with passing safety regulations exams, does allow those graduates to go from cap and gown directly to lucrative jobs in the oil and gas industry, by adding studies with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum management from ABU, their hiring credentials and incomes can be boosted, noted Ashley Mittelmeier, ABU Director of Marketing and Communications.
“Graduates of the associates program can make from about $30,000 to $65,000 per year,” Mittelmeier said. “But with the bachelor’s degree, they will be able to work in upper-level management, climb the corporate ladder and can make more than six figures.”
She said it’s a perfect time and place to garner this multidisciplinary energy field degree, which will make these graduates competitive in the 21st Century job market.
“With the oil and gas industry booming, especially here in our state and region, employers in these fields are looking for a qualified workforce,” Mittelmeier continued. “We’re training West Virginia residents and students for West Virginia jobs.”
She said both institutions involved are proud to be a part of such a unique initiative.
“It’s the only partnership of its kind east of the Mississippi,” she noted.
Mittelmeier explained that all Pierpont credits would be transferred to ABU for those students enrolled in the program, but that those coming from another institution might not have that same courtesy.
“If a student gets a similar degree from another institution, there’s no guarantee that their credits will transfer,” she said. “And students cannot begin as freshmen.”
Dr. Ross Brittain, ABU Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Math, explained the benefit of the bachelor program and said that the students will experience a broad-range of academic study – ecology, hydrogeology, risk analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the environmental sciences, as well as management, human resources, accounting and operations as part of their educational training in the petroleum management program.
“It is designed to provide petroleum technology graduates from Pierpont Community & Technical College with the regulatory and managerial knowledge and ethics to maintain profitable energy production, while providing sustainable stewardship through regulatory compliance,” said Brittain. “Students enrolled in the petroleum management program will not only gain the liberal arts education critical to effective leadership, but also develop their technical skills as environmental scientists and business managers.”
FESCO, who hosted the Friday press conference, will be providing internship opportunities for students enrolled in the program.
“We are excited to be partnering with industry leaders, such as FESCO, to provide these internships and help us educate effective managers,” Brittain said.
For more information about this joint program, , go to www.ab.edu.