Petroleum engineering students at the University of Missouri-Rolla have a new state-of-the-art place to study, thanks to a gift of more than $150,000 from Robert Brackbill, Cay Brackbill, Mary Hargis and Mark Hargis.
Robert Brackbill earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from UMR, which was then the Missouri School of Mines, in 1942. Brackbill’s daughter, Mary Hargis, earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering from UMR in 1984. Her husband, Mark Hargis, also earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering in 1984.
The donation has been used to establish a Petroleum Engineering Technology Classroom equipped with laptops, a document camera and “smart” systems. The new classroom, which was dedicated April 20, is located on the first floor of McNutt Hall on campus.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of Bob Brackbill and his wife, Cay,” says Dr. Jeffrey Cawlfield, chair of the UMR department of geological sciences and engineering. “They have been instrumental in helping us maintain our petroleum engineering program, which is now gaining momentum as it becomes a very strong program.”
UMR is one of a small number of universities in the United States offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in petroleum engineering. About 50 students are currently enrolled in petroleum engineering classes at UMR, and officials are looking to grow the program.
“We have great students, and they’re really going to be able to take advantage of this technology classroom,” says Dr. Shari Dunn-Norman, an associate professor of petroleum engineering at UMR. “An education in petroleum engineering at UMR really pays off. With so few graduates in the field, employment in the oil and gas industry has been assured for good students.”
Dunn-Norman says UMR graduates are currently fielding offers of more than $70,000 per year to go to work in the oil and gas industry.
Robert Brackbill is a former head office manager of engineering for Shell Oil Co., chairman of Texas Pacific Oil Co. and chairman of Robertson Onshore Drilling Co. in Dallas. Mark Hargis is vice president of geoscience for Legend Natural Gas in Houston.