Energy industry group establishes CMU scholarship program

Susan Alvillar, left, president of the Western Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association, and Peggy Lamm, director of development at Colorado Mesa University, sign a memorandum establishing a scholarship program for students pursuing careers in the energy industry. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Susan Alvillar, left, president of the Western Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association, and Peggy Lamm, director of development at Colorado Mesa University, sign a memorandum establishing a scholarship program for students pursuing careers in the energy industry. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A new scholarship program has been established to encourage students pursuing careers in the energy industry to attend Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

The Western Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association has joined with the CMU Foundation and other donors to create an endowment to fund an annual scholarship. Those involved with the program envision the program becoming one of the top science-based scholarships in Colorado.

“As this endowment grows, each year we’ll be searching high and low for Colorado’s most deserving student who wants to work in energy and who wants a top-notch energy education at Colorado Mesa University,” said Susan Alvillar, president of WSCOGA.

The trade group of energy producers contractors and vendors contributed $25,000 to the endowment, an amount matched by the Unconventional Energy Center at CMU. Adding other contributions that support energy programs at the university, the endowment already has grown to $250,000 said Peggy Lamm, director of development at CMU. “We’re excited about this new opportunity.”

Teresa Anson, president of the CMU Foundation board, agreed, She said the program will help to encourage students to remain in the state and prepare to work in a crucial industry sector. “Energy is incredibly important in Colorado.”

Lamm said the amount of the scholarship will depend on funidng generated by the endowment, but is expected to cover tuition and fees.

The new program comes as CMU expands its programs for students who aspire to work in the energy sector, she said. CMU offers a landman and energy management program as a concentration for a bachelor’s of business administration degree and partners with the University of Colorado at Boulder to offer a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. CMU also has strengthened its business management and accounting degree programs.

In addition, CMU and Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction, a part of CMU, offer energy related programs in environmental science, geology, process systems technology, machining and welding.

To be eligible to earn the scholarship, a student must demonstrate through academic performance, extracurricular activities and an essay the potential to become a professional in the energy industry.

Alvillar said she expects scholarship recipients will excel in so-called STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math. “We seek Colorado’s best and brightest in these fields.”

In promoting the scholarship, the program also will afford an opportunity to promote in Colorado high schools both the energy industry and CMU, Alvillar added.

A committee comprised of representatives from WSCOGA, CMU and the community will review scholarship applications and select a recipient each year prior to the WSCOGA annual meeting in February. The first recipient will be announced at an event set for Feb. 26.

Quint Shear, a CMU graduate who’s president of a Grand Junction firm that belongs to WSCOGA, said the energy industry is excited about the scholarship program. When the sector rebounds from a slump related to low prices, it will need an educated work force to fill positions, he said.

Shear and Alvillar both said they expect the endowment to grow. “Stayed tuned,” Alvillar said. “We might have some more money to bring to the endowment.”