AUSTIN, Texas– Geology students at The University of Texas at Austin will have a whole new view of what’s under the Gulf of Mexico. A gift from Texaco of a data set representing an investment of more than $10 million in research includes extensive state-of-the-art 3D seismic images.
The images reveal subsurface rock formations, faults and other geologic features of a 350-square-mile area in the Gulf of Mexico. Students will use this real-world data to learn about the latest technology and to study underground geological features of the Gulf while acquiring skills sought by employers today.
Texaco presented the gift to the College of Natural Sciences at a meeting on campus on Sept. 22. At the same meeting, Texaco also announced a gift of $115,000 for grants and scholarships to the University.
Students in the department of geological sciences are using the data in a newly created course in which they explore real-world challenges with the most up-to-date technology and research tools in the profession.
“Texaco is interested in anything we can do to facilitate the learning experience for students at the University,” said Jack Gregory, a geoscientist for Texaco’s offshore division, who led efforts to secure the gift. “Though this data may be used by geologists looking for petroleum or natural gas deposits, it also contains a tremendous amount of information for all kinds of geological research.”
“To teach this technology effectively, we needed three things,” said Dr. William Galloway, a UT geology professor who will teach the new course together with Dr. William Fisher, chair of the department of geological sciences. “We needed the computer workstations, the software to interpret and view data, and the data itself. We had already assembled the workstations and the software, and had some limited examples of data. Texaco completed the picture for us. This extensive data set provides tremendous opportunities for our geology students.”
Texaco also is assisting Galloway in rapidly interpreting the data to create valuable lessons and laboratory exercises. “Without Texaco’s assistance in digesting this material, it would take quite a while to review it all and make it useful,” said Galloway.
“Seismic interpretation skills and workstation usage capabilities are critical skills for our employees,” said John W. McDonald, Texaco’s vice president for the offshore region. “This donation will enable the University to educate students using a hands-on approach. Students will be using real-world data in research projects and classes.”
“The University and Texaco are both interested in preparing students to be productive as quickly as possible once they reach their first position in the corporate world,” said Helen Pattison, Texaco’s vice president for the onshore region. “The University has done an outstanding job of this, and we are happy to enhance that effort.”
“Innovative gifts like this provide our students a way to acquire the skills employers are looking for today,” said Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “The college is grateful for Texaco’s generous support.”
“We are pleased to receive this state-of-the-art, three-dimensional seismic data set, from which our students will learn not only about the Gulf of Mexico, but also about advanced technology in the geologic and engineering sciences,” said Peter T. Flawn, University of Texas president ad interim. “And we thank Texaco for its accompanying gift with which to fund teaching initiatives, research and scholarships at the University.”
For additional information, contact Nancy Birdwell, director of corporate and foundation relations at the UT Austin development office, (512) 475-9633.