On Monday and Tuesday, June 21st and 22nd, 2014 the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Taskforce (WGEESIT) met in Gillette at the Gillette Tech Center. The Taskforce is lead by former Governor Dave Freudenthal, Dr. Dave McGinity (President of the University of Wyoming), Paul Lang (President of Arch Coal), State Senator Phil Nicholas, and Representative Tom Lockhart. The Task Force’s chairmen are Greg Hill, president and chief operating officer of Hess Corporation, and Tom Bott. The purpose of the Task Force is to create a Tier 1 world-class college of engineering at the University of Wyoming with first class research capabilities. The Tier-1 Engineering Initiative is a vision for a profound transformation of UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS). The Taskforce received a $110 million dollar appropriation from the legislature during the recent budget session and the legislature, university, and private industry are committed to creating a new school of engineering at the University of Wyoming.
The Taskforce toured Black Thunder coal mine south of Wright hosted by Paul Lang and Greg Scheaffer of Arch Coal. The members of the taskforce toured the largest coal mine in North America and had the opportunity to watch the largest drag-line in the world operate at the mine on Monday, June 21st. Upon returning to Gillette, the Gillette Tech Center hosted dinner catered by Jordan’s. Former Governor Dave Freudenthal spoke to the members of the Taskforce along with Governor Matt Mead and President Dave McGinity.
On Tuesday, June 22nd the Task Force met at 6:30 a.m. in order to adjourn at 11:15 a.m. so that members of the committee could travel to former State Senator John Schiffer’s funeral in KayCee. The Task Force reviewed a proposed first year budget of $8.98 million dollars. The Task Force agreed to begin a job search for a new Dean of Engineering who would be responsible for leading the Task Force in building a top notch college of Engineering. The proposal for the first year budget is to hire 10 clerical staff and 14 new professors of engineering at the University. The Task Force reviewed three proposed building’s for the new High Bay Research Facility (HBRF) which could cost as much as $85 million dollars. The new building would be located on the north side of the University at Lewis street. The task force agreed to advance the program to Level II.
The preliminary budget that ramps up over the period FY2015-2020 was presented. Specifically, a total funding request of $89,720,249 spanning six years was outlined. The State portion of this budget totals $65,000,000. The balance of the funds, $24,270,250, is provided by UW. Specifically, the School of Energy Resources is cost sharing $9,737,000, and balance of $14,533,250 will be provide by UW through fund raising and revenue from research grants.
The Task Force is also recommending a scholarship to future Wyoming engineering students. The scholarship will include 15 Tier 1 students and 15 Trustee scholarships. The prospective students will have a GPA of 3.84 out of 4.00 and an ACT score of 32 or higher. Twenty of the students receiving the scholarship will be from Wyoming and four must be female! The students must be declared majors in mechanical engineering (6), electrical (3), chemical and petroleum (7), comprehensive (4), civil and architectural (4), and undeclared (6).
The next meeting of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force will be September 15th and 16th in Rock Springs.