University of Wyoming's Energy Innovation Center provides leading research opportunities

November 7, 2013

The Energy Innovation Center (EIC) at the University of Wyoming positions the university as a global leader in energy education, research and outreach and a core recruiting institution by international energy companies.

Designed by HOK and GSG Architecture for the university’s School of Energy Resources (SER), Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute (EORI) and its nine centers of excellence, the $25.4 million research and collaboration facility is focusing on such critical issues as enhanced oil recovery, carbon management and advanced coal technology.

“The EIC is one of the most advanced research facilities at the university,” said SER Director Mark Northam. “It will provide students, researchers and academic professionals the opportunity to actively engage in, observe and support advancements in sustainable energy technologies.”

The three-story, 56,941-square-ft EIC contains 12,000 square ft of highly technical and reconfigurable research lab space and six technical and specialty labs including:

  •  A three-walled, 3-D visualization research lab linked to one of the largest supercomputing centers in the world — the Wyoming National Center for Atmospheric Research Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, WY;
  • The world’s most advanced reservoir characterization lab dedicated to the study of fluid flow in unconventional reservoir rocks;
  • A 1,296-square-foot drilling simulator for teaching students to explore, test and interact with an extensive array of drilling rig components.

The 3-D visualization lab is notable in its ability to create a model of the subsurface of the earth that will help energy companies pinpoint where they can extract minerals most efficiently. “Rather than viewing a 3-D screen, the center resembles a cavern with three vertical walls and a floor that makes researchers feel as if they are physically immersed in the image,” Northam says.

In addition to classrooms, common areas and faculty and staff offices, the EIC also reserves eight offices and 20 workstations for long- and short-term use by visiting researchers from other universities or private industry. According to Joseph Ostafi, vice president and science and technology leader for HOK, the design of the EIC seeks to stimulate collaboration among academic, public and private sector researchers. 

“The EIC is designed to blur the boundaries of traditional academia and creates opportunities for students, engineers and scientists to interact and freely exchange ideas,” said Ostafi. “This physical environment, similar to what’s found within energy companies or national laboratories, lends itself to knowledge and technology transfer. This facility will play a vital role in preparing the next generation entering the workforce in energy-related industries.

The EIC was funded through corporate donations and state matching funds.

GSG Architecture of Casper, WY is the architect of record and the general contractor was GE Johnson Construction Co. of Jackson, WY.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Through a network of 24 offices worldwide, HOK provides designexcellence and innovation to create places that enrich people's lives and help clients succeed. For four consecutive years, DesignIntelligence has ranked HOK as a leader in sustainable and high-performance design.


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