The TOP Energy Training consortium launched in 2012 to address a specific issue: the surge in unconventional resource technology had created a significant knowledge gap between oil and gas inspectors and operators across North America. To address this challenge, ExxonMobil and General Electric approached three universities, The University of Texas at Austin, Penn State, and the Colorado School of Mines, with seed money to develop and teach a technical training program for oil and gas inspectors. The three schools agreed to collaborate on curriculum and methodology to create their flagship training program, TOPCORP.
The universities surveyed state agencies to determine the existing training available to agencies, the preferred method of training, and the time available for training. In response to this data, TOP Energy Training designed the TOPCORP program to include a set of prerequisite online courses followed by in-person workshops at each of the three schools.
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TOP Energy Training rolled out its first TOPCORP workshop to oil and gas inspectors in 2013. Since then, UT Austin, PSU, and MINES collaborate to host three annual workshops for oil and gas inspectors to enhance the assigned online coursework. The blended learning approach allows field inspectors to receive online updates from a wide range of technical experts, develop new skills in the classroom, and expand their knowledge and network base through wellsite visits and peer-to-peer interaction.
A top-notch inspection corps remains essential for good environmental outcomes – a desirable and shared goal for all of our company, environmental NGO, and foundation sponsors. TOP Energy Training is proud to contribute to this critical work. TOPCORP has provided over 42,000 hours of technical instruction to U.S. and Canadian inspectors from 37 local, state, provincial, and federal agencies.
TOP Energy Training leadership recognized that the online curriculum content developed for TOPCORP could have value to a broader audience than just the regulatory community. Technical and non-technical industry professionals, lawyers, teachers, students, journalists, landowners, municipal staff, and consultants need to stay abreast of the ever-changing oil and gas technology trends to be effective in their jobs and careers. TOP Energy Training online content is now available to these audiences accessible through the program’s website.
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Images: “Gas Stations” by Yarygin via iStock