December 11, 2012

The combination of increased energy consumption, accompanied by an amplified emphasis on frontier areas and new technology, will result in exciting opportunities for petroleum engineers. For these future engineers, LSU is the only university in North America where students can get hands-on training in well control by working at a full-scale research and training facility. Recently the LSU College of Engineering held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate a new classroom facility at the LSU Petroleum Engineering Research & Technology Transfer Laboratory.

The new Donald W. and Gayle A. Keller Well Facility Classroom is being supported by private donations, made through the LSU Foundation, from the Kellers, Eva Rodriguez, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. and the American Association on Drilling Engineers—Lafayette Chapter. The new 4300 square foot state-of-the-art facility features a 60 student classroom and a separate computer lab that will have a significant impact on those who use the facility, especially LSU’s petroleum engineering students, in addition to research and industry as LSU addresses relevant challenges in the petroleum engineering field.

“Giving back to our alma mater has always been an important consideration to me and my wife, Gayle,” said Keller, 1957 petroleum engineering graduate and former President and CEO of Enerfin Resources Company. “I feel that it is my responsibility to do what I can to provide educational opportunities to new engineering students at LSU and to assist the Craft & Hawkins Petroleum Engineering Department to recruit the very best students and faculty. I urge all alums to become more involved in the continuing efforts of LSU to excel in the quality of education and life for future generations.”

“The unwavering support of the College’s alumni and industry partners demonstrates our shared vision to produce the very best engineers for our economy’s growing workforce,” says Rick Koubek, dean, College of Engineering. “This strong investment from alumni and industry marks an important commitment to helping LSU maintain its status of a highly competitive institution.”

The late Raymond “Rod” Rodriguez, a 1952 petroleum engineering graduate, often commented to his wife, Eva, that his degree from the College of Engineering provided the foundation he needed to be successful as a petroleum engineer. That lifelong respect for LSU is what led Eva, who is not an LSU graduate, to carry on his legacy by giving to the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. She has given $500,000 in support of the new classroom.

“After operating for more than 30 years, the well facility has become part of the DNA of the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering,” said Karsten Thompson, chair, LSU Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. “The Keller Classroom building is the next evolutionary step: a state-of-the art classroom and computer lab to complement the hands-on facility immediately adjacent. As we open the doors to this new facility, I am struck by the diversity of donors for the new building. Donald and Gayle Keller provided the vision and the bulk of the donation, but significant support was provided by a professional organization (the Lafayette chapter of the American Association of Drilling Engineers), a company (Diamond Offshore Drilling) and the widow of an alumnus (Eva Rodriguez). The passion of these diverse donors to support this project speaks to the impact that the well facility has had on our alumni and partners, and it sets a benchmark for how we expect the Keller Classroom to impact the next generations of LSU petroleum engineers.”

The AADE Lafayette Chapter is a non-profit volunteer organization that offers a forum for the exchange of information among its members and guests, specifically on drilling related topics. Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. traces its beginnings to the earliest days of the offshore drilling industry. Today, after decades of innovation and multiple company and rig acquisitions, Diamond Offshore provides contract drilling services to the energy industry around the globe and is a leader in deepwater drilling.

The PERTT Laboratory - also commonly referred to as the Well Facility - is an industrial-scale facility with full-scale equipment and instrumentation related to borehole technology. All LSU petroleum engineering students are exposed to well control with real equipment and realistic situations instead of relying on simulators, through two laboratory courses taught at PERTT. Faculty also benefit from the ability to conduct and learn from research done using the full-scale systems at the lab, while industry representatives conduct training at the lab.

"We believe it's a really important and unique resource that we have here at LSU," said John Rogers Smith, associate professor, LSU Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. "We're the only school in the United States that offers and requires hands-on training in well control and understanding hydrostatics and pressure control in wells using actual wells. Industry recognizes LSU as one of the best petroleum engineering schools in the country and that makes its graduates more desirable to companies."

Since its inception in 1929, the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering has set the standard by which petroleum engineers are judged. LSU has a reputation for graduating engineers who are innovative yet practical.

For more information about the LSU College of Engineering, please visit


For more information, contact Mimi LaValle, LSU College of Engineering, or (225) 578-5706.

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