On July 24, 2014 11:19 am
By: Adam Larson, Staff Writer, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group
Photos Provided By: California University of Pennsylvania
Innovation is the pattern of improving and critiquing new ideas and technologies that shape modern day society and can pertain to any industry. The shale oil and gas industry is at the helm of innovation, pioneering new technologies, specifically with engineering. With various technologies that convert natural gas to liquid fuels or mechanisms that minimize the harm of hydrocarbons, geologists and engineers alike are aided by these processes.
California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) is at the forefront of innovation. Cal U operates an innovation center, which is headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at Southpointe. The Cal U Center for Innovation is hosting a weekly day camp called Innovator Wednesdays. The camp is designed for students in grades 6 through 8, which started June 18th and will conclude on August 20th. Classes are conducted by Cal U personnel who are certified teachers. The sessions include hands-on, project-based learning that focuses on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Dr. Whitehead, Associate Provost of Innovation, California University of Pennsylvania, expressed, “The camp is designed with rolling enrollment, so attendance fluctuates from week to week. We recognize that many families have summer vacation plans, so we’ve tried to be flexible. Students can register for individual sessions or the full program, and registration continues throughout the summer. In particular, these camps make it convenient for Southpointe employees to bring their children to an outstanding STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Technology) program without additional travel.”
Moreover, Cal U is making the connection between innovation and the shale oil and gas industry. An engineering session was hosted on June 25th, which also focused on shale gas topics. “For example, the June 25th session focused on engineering, so the students explored bridges,” said Whitehead. “They assumed the role of a company tasked with building a bridge at a future shale drilling site. The task led to a discussion of the oil and gas industry in our region and the issues that come up when a gas company decides to develop a new site.”
Innovator Wednesdays is all about engaging the students with hands-on learning experiences, stressed Whitehead. “We gave students a map of a site that would be safely accessible only by crossing a stream. Then we discussed the types of vehicles that would be utilizing the bridge,” explained Whitehead. “Throughout the day students used a computer program where the scenario could be replicated and played out as a game. The campers designed on paper then built their solution in software that allows their design to be tested with real-world physics. As they worked we prompted the students to think about real-world questions. What happens if a transport vehicle filled with wastewater must be driven across the bridge during a storm? What about the heavy machinery needed to prepare the site?”
Innovator Wednesdays is paving the way for young students in southwestern Pennsylvania. With the upbringing of the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays, the demand for engineers, geologists and other science-related occupations is increasing. Whitehead noted, “In short, Innovator Wednesdays allow students to explore real-world problems while they learn about STEAM careers and local businesses. As educators, we encourage learning by allowing students to follow their own interests within the framework of the camp’s topic.”
Whitehead continued, “All students need to develop critical thinking skills, practice teamwork and develop a general understanding of current topics. When students connect with a topic, they take on the learning challenge with interest and passion.” In a nutshell, Cal U is a tremendous resource – for businesses and families, as well as students – and Southpointe is an ideal location for community-focused efforts.
Innovator Wednesdays fulfills that community-focused effort in educating young students to become innovators for the future. After Innovator Wednesdays wraps up on August 20th, California University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Innovation will continue to develop opportunities to engage the local community, with innovative camps and other activities for students, teachers and business professionals.
In addition to their innovation center, Cal U is heavily immersed in the shale oil and gas industry where the university is offering two new programs in land management, which is a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence, emphasizing legal topics related to the industry, and a Land Management Certificate. Click here to enroll or see the full schedule for Innovator Wednesdays or follow California University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Innovation @caluinnovation to stay in touch with events occurring in Southpointe. In addition, join California University of Pennsylvania and Shale Media Group on July 24th for the next Elite Energy Event in front of the Holiday Inn Express in Bentleyville, PA from 6-9pm as this month’s theme is Innovation in Energy.
Shale Media Group (SMG) is a news, information, education and mapping resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events and radio. For more, check out ShaleMediaGroup.com to access all platforms, including: TheMarcellusShale.com, TheUticaShale.com, TheShaleAcademy.com, ShaleAdvantage.com and ShaleEnergyNow.com. Adam Larson is a Staff Writer with Shale Media Group. Contact him at [email protected].