The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has raised $1.4 million for its new Energy Resources Initiative.

The interdisciplinary initiative was created to better prepare students for more advanced career options in the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry. It also aims to position the school’s faculty as resources for the industry.

“Funding for the Energy Resources Initiative is off to a great start thanks to the collaborative efforts of the university’s foundation and staff,” says Steve O’Rourke, an alumnus serving as chair of the steering committee. “We are encouraged by the support of alumni and energy industry members and are well on our way toward our goal of being able to provide better-prepared students to the industry.”

The initiative includes a culmination of teaching and research. It started last summer to better meet the growing demands of the oil and gas industry. It pulls from the university’s expertise in rock properties, water resources and materials development. The school’s location, within 300 miles of the Williston, Denver and Powder River basins, makes the efforts especially relevant.

A search for a director to head the initiative is underway and more than 20 percent of the school’s graduates are already hired into the energy industry.

“This fall our first students started courses in petroleum systems minor,” says Heather Wilson, the school’s president. “We will have our first petroleum field camp this summer, and, with the support of very generous donors, we are now ready to recruit a program director and senior faculty member to lead the initiative.”

The school is looking for a faculty member in petrophysics or geomechanics to take on the director role. Responsibilities will include a great deal of research, teaching, fundraising and additional initiative developments.

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is bordered on three sides by the Williston Basin (Bakken, N.D.) to the north, the Powder River Basin to the northwest and the Denver Basin directly south. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. For more information, visit