West Virginia University has partnered with Northeast Natural Energy LLC, a private, Charleston, W.Va.-based oil and gas company, in a national initiative to create projects between business and academia to encourage innovation and competitiveness.
The partnership stems from WVU’s participation in the Business-Higher Education Forum, the nation’s oldest organization of senior business and higher education executives dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education and workforce challenges as well as issues related to global competitiveness.
“This partnership is a prime example of the many ways WVU is fulfilling its land-grant mission of teaching, research and service,” said Provost Michele Wheatly, who represented WVU on the panel. “This partnership will help develop the region’s workforce, bring increased energy options and strengthen WVU’s energy research efforts.
“In turn, the research expertise gained will be shared with local, national, and international partners,” Wheatly said.
“Northeast Natural Energy is proud of its West Virginia heritage and the state’s history of providing energy for our country and the world,” NNE President Mike John said. “We are also excited to have an opportunity to work with West Virginia University to improve the readiness of our state’s workforce, to keep the best and brightest in our state and to jointly engage in research to improve technologies related to the natural gas industry.”
NNE focuses on natural gas drilling, exploration, acquisition, and joint-venture opportunities in the Appalachian basin.
Wheatly and John discussed the partnership during a Nov. 11 panel on “Partnerships for Sustaining Today’s and Tomorrow’s Energy Workforce” at the Association of Public and Land-grant University’s national meeting in Washington, D.C. The panel is jointly sponsored by BHEF and the Department of Energy.
The WVU-NNE project, entitled Shale Energy Research, Outreach and Education, will build upon efforts already under way with other industry partners and institutions of higher education such as The Ohio State University, with which WVU is currently working collaboratively to develop a joint program of research in the Appalachian region’s developing shale energy industry.
“This partnership with Northeast Natural Energy is a fulfillment of the mission of a modern land-grant institution such as WVU,” said WVU President E. Gordon Gee, a long-time BHEF member. “It is crucial that higher education work closely with industry, both to encourage innovation and to provide jobs.”
And BHEF CEO Brian Fitzgerald said: “We are excited about the impact this project will have on energy research, the development of new undergraduate curriculum, and on the talent pipeline in the Appalachian region. BHEF and its members remain committed to exposing students to emerging fields by engaging in innovations tuned to critical workforce needs.”
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