Cal U. receives $23.5 million in grants for geology mapping software

Students enrolled in the undergraduate geology program at California University of Pennsylvania will soon be able to train on the same mapping software that is commonly used by companies in the oil and gas industry.

The university is the recipient of three grants totaling $23.5 million that will be used by the geology program to implement software for teaching and research that integrates geosciences, geophysics and engineering assessments.

Exposure to the technology, say Cal U. officials, will equip students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in geology with skills that will make them more marketable and workforce-ready upon graduating.

“This is a huge opportunity for our students to get trained on industry standards,” said Dr. Daniel Harris, assistant professor of geology at Cal U. “Training on these competitive software packages will provide students with the opportunity to develop skills desired by the oil and gas, geotechnical and engineering sectors.”

Cal U. students will use the software for mapping, data management, reservoir modeling, well-planning, borehole positioning and geophysical seismic analysis.

The new mapping software, combined with a new class in petroleum geology being offered at the school, makes Cal U.’s geology degree particularly relevant in a region where considerable oil and gas extraction occurs, said Harris.

“This is important for southwestern Pennsylvania students interested in working in the Marcellus,” he said.

“It’s a huge boon for our students to be able to say they have some experience with Petrel, Kingdom or GeoGraphix (software solutions). They are all used across a variety of industries.”

Geologists are critical to the identification, mapping and extraction of energy and mineral resources and play key roles in developing land for new construction or remediation strategies. They collect data and use powerful software to convert it into charts, graphs, 3-D models and other analytical information.

Energy and environmental companies are among those that employ geologists.

Harris said providing students access to three competing software packages – a rare occurrence in university geology programs – that are commonly used in industries that employ geologists corresponds with a recent effort of the Cal U. geology program to focus on professional development and career readiness.

The university received $2 million from the IHS Markit University Grant Program; $10 million from the LMKR University Grant Program; and $11.5 million from Schlumberger Ltd., an oilfield services company.

IHS Markit and LMKR are a data and analytics provider and a petroleum technology company, respectively.