A trip to Houston to participate in “Energy Day” fills attendees with ideas for building a foundation for expanded energy education in Pennsylvania.
Education continues to be a focal point for the External Affairs department at Cabot. Our company has, in 2014, expanded its partnership with Junior Achievement of Northeast Pennsylvania to host three separate Careers in Energy programs at West Side Career & Technical Center (WSCTC), Tunkhannock High School and Mt. View High School.
We have also sponsored two Challenge Programs at Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center as well as WSCTC, facilitated a three-part lecture series at Lackawanna College in Scranton, conducted numerous operational visits for both students and teachers of area high schools and, in April, announced the single largest donation it has ever made to create an endowment at Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas. And, now we’re building for the future.
Looking to finish the year on a high note, Cabot sponsored three educational leaders – Mellissa Turlip President, JA of NE PA; Dr. Alice Davis Director, Susquehanna County CTC; Laura DelVecchio, Beaver County Career & Technology Center – to go to Houston to learn what the energy capital of the world is doing to inspire tomorrow’s energy professionals. The group had one goal, bring back energy facts, ideas and lessons from Texas to use here in Pennsylvania.
No state produces more energy than Texas, so it’s the place to go to learn. According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA):
- Texas is the leading crude oil-producing state in the nation in 2013 and exceeded production levels even from the federal offshore areas.
- As of January 2013, the 27 petroleum refineries in Texas had a capacity of over 5.1 million barrels of crude oil per day and accounted for almost 29% of total U.S. refining capacity.
- Texas accounted for about 29% of U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2013, making it the leading natural gas producer among the states.
- Texas also leads the nation in wind-powered generation capacity with over 12,000 megawatts; in 2013 Texas generated almost 36 million megawatt hours of electricity from wind energy.
Check out the EIA’s Texas State Energy Profile for more details about this energy juggernaut, but let me tell you more about what we learned with our own eyes.
After arriving in Houston, the group visited the world’s most sophisticated energy exhibit at the Weiss Energy Hall part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There they explored the entire process of energy development; from how oil and natural gas are formed, to the ways various types of energy are used. The hall incorporates dynamic interactive learning methods including computer graphics, touch screens, holographic video displays, and virtual reality.
The exhibit hall features 12 all-new, excursions into the world of energy, including:
- The Formation video wall takes visitors on a high-speed journey through the universe — from the Big Bang to the formation of hydrocarbons — with “The Origin of Energy,” a three-minute high-resolution film at the entrance to the exhibit.
- The Geology gallery features the surprisingly dynamic underground layers of rock that hold reservoirs of oil and gas. Control the motion of the continents over millions of years on a giant screen as you explore plate tectonics. Interact with the towering Rock Strata Wall, cast from actual Texas rock layers, including shale, sandstone, limestone and salt. At the touch of a screen, choose a topic to explore and see your selection come to life in full color on the rock.
- The Exploration gallery features the latest techniques used to search for hydrocarbons, from magnetometers and gravimeters to seismic vibrator trucks. In the Geology in the Field interactive, gaze across a barren, mountainous landscape, and watch as holographic illusions of two petroleum geologists materialize and explain what they are doing in the middle of nowhere. A massive Vibroseis truck interrupts them, sending its booming vibrations deep into the rock below.
- The Processes and Products gallery takes visitors through everything that happens in an oil refinery with full-color, 3D animation. Watch the swirling industrial tornado of the Vortex Separator remove sediment from newly pumped oil and discover how it makes use of centripetal force. Examine the inner workings of a modern Refinery, highlighted with bright, neon pipes.
- The Alternative Energy Sources gallery explores other ways energy is generated. Marvel at a model of an experimental Tokamak fusion reactor glowing with energy from plasma. See a real fuel cell and learn how it works. Explore ocean tidal power, ocean wave energy, biomass, solar energy and more. The energy outlook for tomorrow seems blindingly bright when seen on 50-inch plasma screens in vivid detail.
The reader can check more of the exhibits at Wiess Energy Hall using its informative web page but let me continue with the story of our trip.
Following the visit to Weiss Energy Hall, the group attended the 4th annual Houston Energy Day, the largest free family annual festival showcasing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) there is. This year over 25,000 people turned out, along with more than 70 exhibitors covering a broad range of topics; from the process of liquefying natural gas to showcasing prototype hybrid vehicles.
“STEM jobs are key to our future economic growth, and particularly vital to help continue our ongoing Energy Revolution,” said David Holt, the President of Consumer Energy Alliance, the chief organizer of the festival. “Energy Day shows students the range of real-world possibilities available to them if they pursue a degree in a STEM related field.” Here’s a video providing a glimpse into what the event is all about.
Another aspect of Energy Day is that it marks the conclusion of a series of academic events happening from January to September. Students who participated in the Energy Academic Program took part in six separate contests: The Science and Engineering Fair of Houston; NCWIT Aspirations in Computing, the CSTEM Challenge; The Young Inventors Association Of America Young Inventors’ Showcase of Houston; The Cooperative for After-School Enrichment (CASE) Houston: Energy City of the Future 2050 Competition The International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environment Project; The Houston Geological Society/Houston Museum of Natural Science/Consumer Energy Alliance Art, Essay & Media Contests and the John Kingsley Kerver Educator Award. More than 75 students were awarded this year for their achievements in these STEM-related competitions.
Energy Day and its partners and sponsors are leading the way in reinforcing the importance of STEM education and the development of new energy technology. The stimulating exhibits and generous academic award opportunities help motivate thousands of future energy experts each year.
For a complete list of Energy Day participants and sponsors click here. Needless to say we are looking to continue to expand our energy education programs here in Pennsylvania using what we learned in Texas. After all, we hope to make Pennsylvania the next Texas and Philadelphia the next Houston.
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