LUBBOCK, Texas— Texas Tech University raised the mast on the first ever, fully operational, oil rig on a U.S. college campus Friday morning at the Oilfield Technology Center. Marshall Watson, the department chair of the Bob L. Herd Department of engineering, said this opportunity was a unique one offered to students that will benefit them as well as employers. 

“It was built to give our students hands-on experience in the oil field under a controlled environment where we have total safety,” Watson said. “That’s part of the full operational system that will be available for students to see, watch and touch and actually run calculations on so they can actually see what’s going on in the field.”

Watson said planting the project in West Texas made sense, as they wanted to expose students to working with carbon capture recovery. He said geographically and historically, West Texas was promising for students. 

“If you just go to Levelland West Lubbock, get it down to Denver City. Those are some of the largest enhanced carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery projects in the world,” Watson said.  “We implemented and developed those right here in West Texas, and Shell and Exxon and Amoco were the companies that pioneered that.”

Terry Fuller, an alumnus at Texas Tech, said he enjoys giving back to students who were once in his shoes. He donated his time and money to the rig, along with many other projects at the college. 

“We got the opportunity, and it was time for us to pay back and have somebody else get an opportunity,” Fuller said. “I wouldn’t have had that opportunity had somebody not taken a chance to help me out. That’s what the world is about. It’s finding some place where you can help somebody.”

As a drilling engineer himself, Fuller said he is excited to provide this opportunity to ensure students learn all aspects of engineering the right way. 

“I had never been on a drilling rig floor in my academic career because we didn’t have such an opportunity,” Watson said. “It’d be an opportunity for us to teach students hands on what it takes to drill a well.”

Watson said students will begin working on the rig as early as the 2023 spring semester.