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UA Students in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna and Valdez Benefit From BP Gifts


University of Alaska engineering students in Anchorage will be able to
build prototypes of buildings, bridges, pipelines and anything else
professors demand thanks to $175,000 in new lab equipment donated by
BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

The gift was one of many from the company to the university in 2010
that, in addition to Anchorage, went to programs in Fairbanks,
Soldotna and Valdez.

The new UAA lab includes 3D printers, computers, scanners, milling
machines, laser engraver and other manufacturing equipment that
together will become the new Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing (RPM)
Lab, housed at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s School of

To use the word “printer” is a bit of a misnomer, as the 3D machine
will take computer-aided drawings to actually create a 3D prototype
using the latest technology available for civil, computer, electrical
or mechanical engineering assignments. UAA Associate Engineering Dean
Grant Baker said the RPM lab will engage students with hands-on
learning in a way that wasn’t possible before.

“The time required to design and manufacture a new, patentable
prototype will be hours, instead of weeks or months,” Baker said. “An
almost limitless array of new opportunities will be open to students,
such as designing and building prototypes of surgical instruments and
personalized joint replacements; architectural design of buildings and
bridges; model aircraft and vehicles; and nearly all types of
mechanical devices as well as the exact replication of objects.”

Some of the equipment needed for the new lab has already arrived and
more is expected. The lab should be complete by December, Baker said.

The impact of BP’s various gifts to the university, which total
$524,000, also includes a $75,000 donation to Kenai Peninsula College
(KPC) to upgrade simulator equipment for its process technology
programs in Soldotna and Anchorage.

“Our students will be able to train on a simulator that will mimic
what they’ll find in the workplace on the North Slope or Cook Inlet,”
said Gary J. Turner, KPC director. He explained this will allow
students to interact with process control systems that utilize real
digital control algorithms with a computer-based operator interface
similar to those used in industry. Students in seven KPC classes will
benefit from the donation.

BP also gave $55,000 for the Process Technology program at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Community and Technical College. UAF
CTC Interim Dean Michele Stalder said the money will allow the program
to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the Fairbanks-based
Pipeline Training Center.

"The support that BP has shown over the years has been instrumental in
the success and growth of our Process Tech program.  We can't thank
donors like BP enough for investing in our students and in Alaska's
future workforce," Stalder said.

In addition to the RPM lab in Anchorage and the gifts to process tech
programs at KPC and UAF’s CTC, other BP gifts this year include:

• $50,000 for graduate and undergraduate student support at UAF’s
Alaska Center for Energy and Power;
• $30,000 for a series of competitive contests for students at UAF’s
College of Engineering and Mines, including the popular Steel Bridge
Competition, the Clean Snowmobile Challenge and the MicroMouse
• $30,000 in contributions to the 2010 and 2011 Last Frontier Theatre
Conference, held annually at Prince William Sound Community College in
• $57,000 for the summer bridging program at UAA’s Alaska Natives in
Science and Engineering Program, known as ANSEP;
• And $40,000 for new scoreboards at the Patty Center Gymnasium for
UAF basketball and volleyball fans.

“That BP chooses to continue supporting our students year after year,
through such generous charitable donations as this, demonstrates a
real trust in the university,” said UA President Pat Gamble. “It’s a
trust we take seriously as we strive to deliver well-prepared
graduates to Alaska’s economy.”

John Mingé, president of BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., said his
company was pleased to make the gifts to the UA campuses.

“We value the role that UA plays in contributing to the quality of
life in our great state, and in producing students who are skilled,
innovative and engaged in the community,” Mingé said. “We are
investing in programs that will help develop the workforce of today
and into the future.”
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