Multimillion-Dollar Partnership To Train SHSU Students For Energy Industries

A multimillion-dollar partnership established between Sam Houston State University’s Department of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology and Houston-based Quanta Services will provide a unique opportunity for SHSU students to enhance their leadership abilities and workforce marketability by combining academics with hands-on training in way never before seen.

The Quanta Services partnership will touch the entire SHSU student’s academic experience by combining additional resources, hands-on experience, and industry-enhanced materials in core engineering technology courses, which will allow students to graduate from the program with an increased applied knowledge base and a better understanding of industrial and field operations.

The largest specialty contractor in North America, Quanta Services provides planning, design, construction, maintenance, and technology services for the electrical and oil and gas industries. Safely supporting the industrial construction and service industries, Quanta’s core business focus is power—via transmission, distribution, substations, and power plants—and pipeline—as in utilities, oil and gas.

“Quanta Services will fund two additional professor positions that will work closely with Quanta managers to develop curriculum in energy systems management, during which engineering technology students will have actual hands-on working experience in a safe and controlled environment at Quanta’s state-of-the-art power and pipeline training facility, Lazy Q Ranch, before they graduate,” said Traci McCready, senior director for Alvarez and Marsal Business Consulting. “The partnership will also fund several thousand dollars of supplemental lab equipment.”

This hands-on experience will come in the form of an industry-immersion experience unlike any other.

Beginning as a pilot in the spring 2017 semester, the Lazy Q Ranch student experience will provide a highly interactive case study for students enrolled in the minimester course by exposing them to the end-to-end process of managing a project in the field.

Built with the vision of the company’s founder, John Colson, the one-of-a-kind Lazy Q Ranch facility encompasses more than 2,100 acres in La Grange and includes pressurized pipelines and testing facilities, a live substation, and transmission/distribution lines.

The self-powered system enables a variety of training programs in a safe and contained environment. In addition, the program will include the creation of a structured internship program beginning the following summer.

To establish the curriculum for the program, Quanta Services collaborated with members of the SHSU faculty to enhance three core courses currently offered in the engineering technology department. The courses—two freshmen level and one upper level—have been enriched to increase exposure to the utilities industry and provide students real-world connection to technical theory.

“We asked Quanta Services and current mid-level managers to answer the question, ‘What makes a good candidate for employment?’” said project manager Lindsay Kaub, adding that 52 competencies were identified in categories such as technical, role-based, cultural, and style. “They narrowed the 52 competencies into 22 areas to focus on enhancing curriculum without altering the fundamental purpose of the courses.”

Through the partnership, Quanta will have access to qualified applicants with the experience and skills necessary to be successful upon their graduation from SHSU.

“The Quanta Services partnership with SHSU is a unique, multi-dimensional partnership that will enrich the academic course offerings in the engineering technology program with academically and scholarly recognized faculty committed to innovative research and enlighten advanced industry-driven course offerings,” said agricultural sciences and engineering technology department chair Stanley Kelley.

“The work ethics and reputation of engineering technology students and graduates—coupled with a quality education and well-defined curriculum with a strict, structured, internship program—were key elements that heightened SHSU as the ideal academic partner for Quanta Services.”

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