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UW-River Falls alumnus teaches rare petroleum geology course

February 25, 2015

Fifteen UW-River Falls geology students recently took an applied petroleum geology course over J-term, taught by 1978 UWRF alumnus Dave Stone.

The 18-hour course focused on petroleum geology, specifically the business side of it. Something that Stone has a lot of experience with. Stone has been in the petroleum geology field for 34 years, holding positions across the country, including positions like vice president and executive director.

Petroleum geology, in layman’s terms, is looking for energy sources, like crude oil and natural gasses. This can be done in a number of ways, almost all of which involve drilling into the earth.

Kerry Keen, professor of environmental science and geology, had the idea for the class and said that Stone was more than happy to teach it. Keen also said that popularity with this field has been growing.

“Over the last few years, we’ve had some of our students going off and working in [petroleum geology] in Wyoming or North Dakota,” Keen said.

The recent student interest in petroleum geology may be due to the recent uptick in silica sand mining. Silica sand mining is the process of extracting sand and is used for numerous things, such as sanding icy roads and being used as an abrasive. With dozens of mines and processing locations in the surrounding area.

Keen says that there is plenty of work in this industry if this field is something that interests you.

“This field is an interesting type of work, because there are years when it’s really strong, and there may be times when it is not as strong,” Keen said. “So, when it is strong, it draws a lot of people in. Everyone is looking for a job and you can go out an get a job in this field if you desire it.”

UWRF senior Danielle Currier is hoping to get into petroleum geology once she graduates, and said that the class was very beneficial.

“It brought real world aspects into the classroom, it was more of an applied skills class rather than a lecture class and I really enjoyed that aspect of it,” Currier said.

UWRF junior Brett Lacoy also hopes to go into this field and he thinks that this class provided him with a very valuable experience.

“We have a lot of classes about geology, but we don’t get much on the industry and business side of the field,” Lacoy said. “It was very applicable, and very enjoyable to learn about.”

Dave Stone currently resides in Oklahoma and occasionally comes back to UWRF to talk about his career. Keen said that he is grateful for all of the work that Stone put into the course.

“He did a super job creating a overview of petroleum geology,” Keen said. “Students come out of this having a sense of all the different aspects of what goes on.”

Keen went on to say that the class was a great success and he hopes that the class will happen again.

“[Stone] would love to teach it again, if we have another crop of students in a couple years,” Keen said. “I imagine it will happen again.”

Once the class concluded, Stone provided the geology program with a generous donation so the program can purchase petrographic microscopes.

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